Getting tired of your boring Zoom meetings where you stumble out of bed five minutes before the start and quickly wipe the crust off your eyes (except sometimes you forget that crucial step and notice it halfway through the call when you’ve pinned your own screen to see what you look like and try to subtly pop your zits)?

Kick your video conferences up a notch by bringing in a little français (that means French).

Have a visible breakfast of two croissants, orange juice, and a glass of red wine at the meeting.

Spend a lot of time complaining about how the traditional French bakery around the corner from your apartment is closed due to COVID and that you had to make these croissants by hand using your great-grandma’s recipe. You didn’t make these croissants by hand unless tearing apart the Pillsbury Crescent rolls counts. Your great-grandma was not French.

Also, I know French people probably don’t drink wine at breakfast, but do your team members know that? More importantly, will they be rude enough to inquire about your beverage choices?

Drop random cliche French phrases into the conversation.

For example:

Colleague: “We’re lagging on [some really boring project that no one cares about]. We may need to push the drop-dead date.”
You: “Mon Dieu!”

Colleague: “Can you deliver the assets by [really unrealistic date]?”
You: “Mais non!”

Don’t speak French? This will only be a problem if one of your colleagues does. Even then, if they’re not fluent, you can gaslight them into believing that they’re misremembering their grammar because nobody remembers grammar.

Photoshop a picture of you and your S.O. kissing in front of the Eiffel Tower and make it your background.

Don’t have an S.O.? This will just work just as well if you’re cradling an armload of baguettes like a baby.

Set the mood.

Knot a scarf around your neck and pop a beret on your head. Have “La Vie en Rose” playing in the background (you better crank up that volume!). Make sure that copy of Le Petit Prince you had to buy in high school that’s been gathering dust for 17 years is visible. Never cracked the spine? Let your dog play with it for a few minutes so it looks like you’ve pored over that text for days and days.

Frequently reference French politics.

This will require you to know, for example, who the president of France is. I’ll give you a hint: it’s not the guy whose brother was married to Mary-Kate Olsen.

For example: “As Emmanuel Macron noted at the G7 Summit…”

“Accidentally” drop links to photos from your study-abroad trip to Paris into the chatbox.

The year was 2007. The Facebook album was entitled “Raison d'être.” It mostly included pictures of you and your study-abroad BFFs (the ones you MIGHT still be Facebook friends with, maybe?) getting sloshed in front of the l’Arc de Triomphe. Laugh with mock embarrassment and say “Pardonnez-moi, s’il vous plait!”

As an added bonus, after making this your Zoom routine, you’ll probably be required to attend far fewer of these time-wasters.


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