Have you experienced a Zoom fail? Working virtually for over a year now has been, well, interesting. We’ve faced challenges we never could have imagined, and some of them have fallen into the category of ridiculous. Please enjoy our collection of virtual meeting goofs and surprises.


The Cat Who Sent Everyone Into Breakout Rooms
By Laurie Durnell
Principal Consultant, The Grove

I was leading the Facilitating Virtual Collaboration Workshop and preparing breakout rooms while my co-instructor finished up a topic. I set Zoom to “Automatically move all assigned participants into breakout rooms.” That way, once I click on “Open All Rooms,” participants are whisked into the breakout rooms without having to search for the “Join Breakout” button. On this day my cat, who enjoys snoozing beside me on his own chair while I work in my home office, decided to take a walking tour of my desk. I was in mid-sentence when, poof, all the participants disappeared. My cat had launched the breakouts by stepping on my keyboard! I quickly closed the breakouts, and we all had a good laugh at my internet savvy feline.


Snack Time Anyone?
By Tiffany Forner
Creative Director, The Grove

After a rainstorm, the roof in our home office sprung a leak. This meant that for weeks I had to work in the kitchen. This wasn’t ideal, especially because I was working next to the snack cupboard. When I was in Zoom meetings, my teenage son would army crawl behind me and reach up and open the cabinet. I found myself saying, “just ignore that hand behind me grabbing a bag of chips.”


My Mom’s Big ‘Ole Forehead
By Bobby Pardini
President, The Grove

From the bottom of my Zoom window, my Mom’s forehead slowly rises. At first, all I can see are some wisps of blond hair, but then the hairline comes into view followed by a furrowed forehead and eyebrows. “Mom, move away from the screen so I can see your whole face,” I implore, to no avail. One of her hazel eyes fills the screen for a moment before falling away. “Oh, ummmm, oh!” she exclaims. Then the crash and the image darkens. “I dropped the phone, Bobby…hold on….” “It’s OK, Mom, just keep some distance between the phone and your face.” The forehead is back—are those worry wrinkles?—and my Mom begins telling me about the latest painting she has completed. I sigh, lean back in my chair, and imagine her sweet face just beneath what I can see.


Playing Chicken
By Brian Tarallo
Managing Director of Lizard Brain, Grove Partner

I was working for a big agricultural organization, and its web-meeting platform didn’t have great audio because people dialed in from their office phones. The problem was, if anyone put the call on hold, we heard a recorded message about how “September is Chicken Month” and on and on. …AND WE COULDN’T MUTE THEM!


I Broke My Foot During a Zoom Meeting!
By Megan Hinchliffe
Chief Administrative Officer, The Grove

I was attending a team meeting on Zoom and also had several contractors working in my yard. At one point during the meeting, one of the workers had an urgent question that I needed to answer. It was at a crucial point in the meeting and I didn’t want to miss anything, so I rushed outside to quickly resolve the issue. While frantically storming back in, I bashed my bare foot on the concrete front step. I knew right away that I had done something bad, and that it was more than the usual stubbed toe. I took a breath, hobbled back to my computer and rejoined the meeting without saying a word. My teammates were quite stunned to find out the next day that I had broken my foot during the meeting and had no idea that anything had happened!


Rock ‘n Roll Brings Us All Together
By Bobby Pardini
President, The Grove

I would say that I have been a bit slow on the uptake when it comes to video conferencing during my three-plus decades at The Grove, but the pandemic put an end to that in a hurry. With no in-person meetings in the offing, I suddenly had no choice but to schedule Zoom meetings ALL OF THE TIME! I stubbornly decided to show myself as is: no attempts at business-casual clothing, and certainly no doctoring of my background. So, perhaps it was inevitable that a long-time client and I met face-to-face (via Zoom) for the first time, and both our minds proceeded to get blown. My fervent love for music is prominently displayed on my home-office walls, with concert playbills and other music artifacts on display. When my client began looking at some of the posters in my background, his eyes lit up, and we spent the next 45 minutes discussing our favorite bands and the unifying power of music, hard rock in particular. Ever since then, our interactions have been part business, part the business of rock ‘n roll. I think we are the better for it.


Do you have your own absurd virtual-meeting story?

We’d love to hear it. Please send your stories to info@thegrove.com, and we’ll publish them. Everyone could use a good laugh these days.