How to avoid social disparities during virtual meetings

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The COVID-19 pandemic hit and all of our lives went virtual. Business meetings and lectures suddenly became very personal... in our homes.

Luckily, there are ways to improve your virtual space with things you already have.

For mom of two Quinn Menjivar, there is nothing peaceful about her Zoom calls. She's attending nursing school virtually with her 3-year-old daughter, Willa, and her 8-year-old son, Haylen, who is autistic, both at home with her.

"Even if my son was being watched by my mom or my husband, I could hear my son getting worked up, and then you start hearing things getting thrown and I am just like, 'I can't do this,'" Menjivar said.

She says her son's world turned upside down when COVID-19 hit and he stopped going to school. She says virtual learning is not something he understands.

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"He doesn't really pick up on when is the right time and wrong time to approach someone," Menjivar explained. "So, if I am in class, he comes, you know, he just comes right up."

Being virtual welcomes people into our private lives and puts our kitchens, living rooms and families on display.

Career expert and strategist Mary Jeanne Vincent says if a moment happens out of your control, like your child having a tantrum, acknowledge it.

"It says, 'You know, I am not perfect. You're not perfect,' and you know, there is some connection there," Vincent said. "So that would be my suggestion, is just acknowledge it and move on."

She shares these six tips to make your set-up professional:
  1. Maintain a clutter-free background
  2. Use your laptop, not a phone
  3. Apply a virtual background if possible
  4. Hang a plain sheet behind you
  5. Keep your camera eye level and look into it while you speak
  6. Avoid backlight


"If you look dark on screen, then you might want to buy a special light," Vincent said. "Like I have a ring light that I use that helps fill light from the other side."

On Amazon the average ring light costs between $23 to $39.

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