Courtroom ‘cat’astrophe and congressman’s committee decapitation

March 3, 2021 | Richard Ellis

‘I’m not a cat’: When your conferencing has to be purr-fect, a timely reminder that conferencing should be ‘gimmick-free.’

As the prospect of coming out of post-pandemic remote working life, one thing that will still be fresh in the minds of the general public will be the wide-eyed innocence of a kitten proclaiming to a Judicial District Court in West Texas, that he was in fact ‘not a cat’.

As the routine video conference hearing kicked off, Rod Ponton, a county attorney, was left trying to switch off a filter that made him into a cat, stating ‘i don’t know how to remove it’.

The video went viral for obvious reasons and the 42 seconds of pure comedy gold has been viewed over 10 million times, and rightly so.
From the cool, calm demeanour of the judge, to the other attendee’s smirk when Ponton proposes that he is ‘prepared to go forward with it, and that he is here live, and not a cat‘ to the judge’s response, without missing a beat, saying ‘I can see that’.

The mishap came about as he was using his secretary’s computer, whose child had been using the Zoom feature, which was quickly removed and the meeting continued, showing a true level of professionalism from everyone, not only for persevering but also continuing for finding a way to adapt to a way of working in a post-pandemic world.


Days later, a Minnesota congressman’s decapitated head could be seen upside down during a committee hearing video call.

The video of the hearing, viewed 16,000 times, shows Chairperson Maxine Waters asking Tom Emmer: ‘Will the gentleman suspend?’ and then adding: ‘Mr Emmer, are you okay?’ to laughter and a response of: ‘I am’

Someone can be heard off-camera saying: ‘You’re upside down Tom’ to which the congressman replies: ‘I don’t know how to fix that.’

Later, a man tells him: ‘Tom, you’re going viral,’ while a woman adds: ‘At least he’s not a cat!’ to which he laughs in response, seeing the funny side of the situation.

To avoid any similar instances as above, here are a few tips to get you going:

1- Test your software in advance, has someone left a background filter on?
2- Check your hardware, is your camera in focus?
3- Set up your environment, makes sure the washing isn’t hanging over the radiator or the TV blaring in the background.
4- Dress to impress, just because you are not sitting opposite the other attendees, dress smart.
5- Mute your microphone while not talking, the dog yapping at the postman or the partner hoovering outside the door can be avoided.
6- Announce yourself before speaking to ensure those not using video knows who is speaking.

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