Living On Zoom

By Joryn Jenkins

I got a phone call early this morning from my court reporter. “That’s unusual!“ I thought, although I was feeling perky so “What’s up?” is what came out of my mouth.

Beth never minces her words. “So, you know how the microphones and speakers work on these Zoom hearings we’re having these days with the courts, right?”

“Yes, I think so,” I answered her, although I wasn’t sure where she was headed with that.

“Well, usually, when we’re sitting in a crowded courtroom and the judge is speaking, you’ll nod, and likely say something quietly, some kind of acquiescence or sound of assent, right? Like “Understood,“ or “Okay,” or, maybe, “I get it.” She paused, then continued. “Some kind of agreement, right? It’s conversational interplay, right? It’s not just back-and-forth, but also during. We talk over and around each other, while agreeing with the person who’s got the podium. In fact, you’re doing it right now,” she observed. “It’s part of how we dialogue. Everybody does it.”

Absorbing what she was saying, I waited a beat before I said “Yes.”

“Well, every time you do that, the Zoom speaker switches from whoever is further from his microphone to you, and I can’t hear what the judge is saying at the same time. Your speaker always wins.” She pondered, “I think it’s because you’re so aware of how you come across on Zoom that you always frame yourself up perfectly. Of course, you always look great, but this also means that you are closest to your mike and, if there’s a competition between speakers, your speaker therefore wins.”

She wasn’t done. “You’ve got to stop that. It’s messing with my transcripts. So far you haven’t really spoken over anything important but there will come a time when you’ll talk during some judge’s ruling and I’ll miss the ruling, and then where will we be?

Of course, she’s right. Will everything we’re doing on Zoom while we’re in lockdown affect how we converse in the future in person? Are we going to learn new habits that we will take into our future conversations?

I can tell you this; we don’t realize the many impacts that the pandemic fears have forced on us. Perfect example: I’ve been having difficulty with my hearing, so I had it checked the other day. When I discovered that my hearing is actually slightly better than most of the folks my age, I was surprised. But my conversation with the doctor revealed that I was questioning my ability to hear because of the masks we wear. Apparently, I didn’t realize how much I rely on visual signals to add to my audio comprehension. In other words, “I read lips.”


If you’re interested in learning how to navigate virtual appearances, reach out to me at or find me at Your Collaborative Marketing Coach. Your marketing is my marketing! And if you’d like to learn more about how to become a Collaborative Champion or a Legal Influencer, buy my toolkit or attend my training!

Joryn, attorney and Open Palm Founder, began her own firm here in Tampa after a 14-year career in law, 2 of which she served as a professor of law at Stetson University. She is a recipient of the prestigious A. Sherman Christensen Award, an honor bestowed upon those who have provided exceptional leadership to The American Inns of Court Movement. For more information on Joryn’s professional experience, take a look at her resume.

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