In recent months, remote work has become the norm for a large number of people around the world. With this shift, the large majority of business meetings and calls have switched to a virtual setting, and zoom has taken the lead. The number of zoom users rose by 21% from 2019 to 2020 and there are currently 12.92 million people making zoom calls each month.
Zoom calls can often be even more boring than those which take place in the office, however. In fact, a BBC study found that zoom calls drain your energy more than usual meetings as you’re unable to read body language and it’s often hard to stay focused. To reduce Zoom fatigue caused by these calls and keep the atmosphere light-hearted, some people have taken to doing pranks.
All of these popular Zoom pranks can be used in meetings and during calls with friends, but make sure to pick the right moment! Use them the same way you would with a prank in a physical office – you don’t want to be unprofessional in important meetings and pitches, so keep the fun stuff for informal chats and catch-ups, and only do them if you know they’ll go down well with your audience!
We’ve put together a list of some of the best and funniest Zoom pranks to do during your business meetings, that you can hopefully take inspiration from and incorporate into your next zoom call.
This Zoom prank is popular as it’s one of the easiest jokes to do on a virtual call but can be really effective when done well. With this, you can trick the colleagues joining you on the Zoom call into believing that you live in a luxury apartment, or that you’ve got a fancy house by constantly appearing in different rooms.
Using the ‘virtual backgrounds’ button (which can be found by clicking on the arrow next to the video camera icon in the bottom left corner and selecting ‘video settings’), you can select pre-made virtual backgrounds from the zoom menu, to trick your coworkers into believing you’re in crazy locations. Some are a bit out there, so you might have a hard job actually convincing anyone that you’re really taking a zoom call from the top of the Empire State building, but switching around backgrounds is a good way to keep the vibe fun and lighthearted.
Zoom calls come with their own selection of backgrounds installed already, but by following this link, you can find loads more realistic-looking zoom backgrounds to impress your colleagues.
Another great way to carry out this prank is to make your own background. This is certainly a bit more believable than using zoom’s generic backgrounds, as you can customize them and make them seem realistic.
You also don’t have to be a graphic designer to create your own, as a simple way of getting a new background is just to find any photo from the internet (or take your own photo!) and upload it via the ‘add image’ tab on zoom after following the above instructions.
If you’re still struggling with the virtual backgrounds, though, you can always go ahead and keep it old school and make a real-life fake background, like one man who pinned up a sheet of paper behind him to make it look like he was living in a different apartment on his call.
This clever and popular Zoom prank, used also by students to get out of their online classes this semester, allows you to walk away from your screen while letting your coworkers believe you’re still right there. It uses the background feature that zoom has already, however you’ll need to record your own video before the call, but it’s simple to get the hang of!
It could be thought of as more of a Zoom hack than a Zoom prank since it allows you to get out of your meetings without anyone knowing if all goes well. If you do get caught though, it might be best to pass it off as a joke to avoid problems.
For this, you’ll need to record a short video anywhere between 15-60 seconds on your laptop’s webcam of you acting natural and looking at your screen. Next, make sure that you tape over your webcam before joining a Zoom call, and act as though your camera is just starting up when you join. Then, go to video settings by clicking the arrow next to the video icon on the bottom left-hand corner which should take you to a settings page. Here you can select the ‘virtual background’ tab and ‘add video’.
You can then select and play the previously recorded video to your co-workers whilst you do whatever you want – watch TV, have a nap, or even head out.
The zoom reconnecting prank has become a popular way for workers to get out of their calls and not get caught out by their bosses! In a similar way to the Zoom pranks already discussed, it’s easy to do and effective. It involves making it seem that your broadband connection is bad and you’re continuously reconnecting.
The way to do this zoom prank is very similar to the one above, but instead of taking a video, use a selfie of your face with the same background as you would have on any zoom call, and upload this as a virtual background.
Now, change your name to ‘Reconnecting…’, mute your sound, and go back to doing what you were before the call! It’s a useful Zoom prank because even if your colleagues do have their suspicions about you skiving off the call, no one can really get annoyed at you for appearing to have a shaky connection.
Show a Video of Yourself in the Background
Another use of the zoom backgrounds feature is to make it look like you’re walking in on yourself, or that there’s two of you. This became a popular Zoom prank after one man posted a video of himself during a virtual meeting, in which it appeared that he handed himself a glass of water.
Since then, it’s become a viral trend and others have come up with novel ways of having videos of themselves show up in the background of their Zoom calls, such as this example. It’s a sure-fire way to confuse or freak your colleagues out, even for just a moment before they realize it’s just a background, and it works really well if you act as though it’s nothing out of the ordinary.
It’s really effective, surprising, and doesn’t run the risk of offending anyone, so it’s a good Zoom prank to play. The method of doing this Zoom prank is very similar to the methods used with creating personal backgrounds discussed above, as it also involves creating your own video background. It’s a little more complicated, as it requires keeping your own video on while you play the virtual background, so this video tutorial is helpful in explaining it thoroughly.
‘Accidentally’ Offend Someone While on Mute
For this Zoom prank, you don’t need to configure any tricky backgrounds or videos, in fact, it doesn’t even really need the mute button – you just need to pretend! This Zoom prank is a little riskier, and definitely requires the others on the call to have a good sense of humor, so make sure you assess the situation first.
You need to make your colleagues believe that you’re on mute, so a good idea is to mute yourself for a while, and then take yourself off mute in order to carry out the prank. Involve a family member or someone living with you, and ask them to come and speak to you during the call.
When they do, you need to loudly reply something along the lines of “I’m just on a really useless business call right now and everyone won’t shut up”. You’ll likely get a few stunned responses, awkward silence, or potentially someone asking if you realize that your sound is not muted, and they heard your insult.
We suggest that you explain that it was a Zoom prank if it’s not immediately clear to avoid awkwardness and problems with your colleagues or managers.
Pretend to be Muted
Almost the opposite of the previous Zoom prank, this one involves pretending that your sound is muted, when it’s not.
Mouth words with no noise and confuse the others on the Zoom call as they don’t hear sound from you but can see that your mute button is not on. People will shout at you that you’re not on mute to start with, but if you keep it up, they’ll soon realize that you’re playing a joke.
It’s hard to keep this Zoom prank going for too long – it can become unfunny quite quickly, but with the right group of people, you’ll likely get a few laughs out of it.
Pretend to Freeze
When the internet connection is running slowly or starts to break down whilst on a zoom call the screen will freeze and leave your face completely still on the screen.
To confuse your colleagues, you could pretend to freeze midway through a sentence by just holding still. It might be a bit hard to do effectively when you’re just trying to hold your face still on the screen. In that case, you could take inspiration from one caller who had a ready-made still photo of him to hold in front of the screen to make it look like he had frozen on the zoom call.
Turn up in a Funny Outfit
It could be a weird T-shirt, jumper, or the favorite – a hat. This funny video of a woman wearing a chicken hat has become popular for her pretending to not know she’s even wearing it. It’s a sure-fire way to make those zoom calls a little less draining and enable you to enjoy your workday more. You can make this into even more of a Zoom prank, and pretend that your hat is an on-screen filter by acting that you’re taking it off and asking ‘Is it still there?’.
Disclaimer: This Zoom prank is likely to seriously annoy your coworkers, so definitely proceed with caution, and don’t drag it out!
Also, take a look at these four coworkers who decided amongst themselves to add a bit more fun to their virtual meetings and dressed up in different outfits each day for their work Zoom calls. They took outfit inspiration from books, TV shows, and films, as well as setting a theme such as in the Mexican-inspired example below. This is a great idea to add a bit of fun to your everyday zoom call or any virtual meetings which will hopefully lead to being less drained by the experience. The full article (along with all the photos) can be found on DeMilked.
If you need to share a PowerPoint or document during your virtual meeting, you can do so using the screen share function. Usually, if you’re sharing it on a Google document or what you need to show is online, it will show your other tabs open as well.
This gives you the chance to have some weird tabs open – maybe you want to have a tab open for an obscure shop or website. If you want to be a little darker, Business Insider suggests that you ‘accidentally’ leave your Wikipedia searches for serial killers open in the background.
There’s certainly the chance your coworkers might not even notice, or even might not want to embarrass you and point it out, so you might not get much of a reaction at all from this – it depends how brave they are!