Zoom Impact when it matters - Spontaneity Shop

Zoom Impact when it matters

23 November 2020
Alex MacLaren

Here’s a screenshot from today at 1114hrs GMT; arguably one of the most important videoconferences in history. This group is discussing the preliminary results of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID vaccine trials. It’s wonderful news so far, but let’s assess some of their image choices.

Virtual backgrounds: Professor Andrew Pollard and his boss, Oxford’s Vice-Chancellor Louise Richardson, are using badged images of the institution’s high-status environment. It’s partly brand-building, but it also signifies that they are there to represent other hardworking brains – a point that must feature in their media strategy, because they consistently reiterate it whenever they are on the news. Menelas Pangalos and his boss Pascal Soriot are also using virtual images of buildings (AZ’s new compound in Cambridge). In all these cases it helps to associate them with a specific geography in our minds (especially if they are not actually there physically).

Locations: Professor John Bell is in an office (rather too starkly sidelit by his office desk lamp), as are the members of the Government science team that Brits have come to know – Whitty, Vallance and Jonathan Van Tam. It doesn’t surprise me that uniquely JVT, who is by far the most gifted communicator of the three, has taken care to elevate the camera angle and ensure that everyone gets clear audio of his contributions through a headset – when he’s not on mute, that is.

The UK Prime Minister: the least professional in some ways; flat lighting, and even his tripod-mounted camera is too far away. But oddly it’s quite on-brand for Boris Johnson, who can show off the classical environment of the state apartments at Downing Street while being ‘adorably’ unconcerned about the trivia of electronic whatnots and thingumajigs.

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