Dear Someone Else’s Dad,
I’m on an international team, and we use audio-activated videoconferencing. All our faces appear in little squares on the side of the screen, and when someone starts to speak, that person’s face fills the screen’s background. A couple of older people always forget to turn off their phones so each time their phones ping a text sound their distracted old faces fill the whole screen for a moment. It gets to be pretty funny actually, since the offending parties seem to be clueless about what’s going on, and I have to keep myself from chuckling when I see these older people squinting their eyes at their phones. How can I tell them how funny (yet unprofessional and distracting) it is without offending them?
Holding It In
Since they are clearly unaware of what’s happening, you should talk to the “older people” in private conversations. Also, you should use the humor in the situation to make light of the technology that the “older people” don’t understand. “Older people” will be happy to know that all it takes is to turn notifications off, but you may have to walk them through it since “older people” might not know now how to do it. Thanks for looking after us old codgers.