Virtual meeting etiquette every professional should know and practice

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With travel restrictions imposed and more people working from home, we are holding more meetings, interviews, trainings and conferences online. Video conferencing apps have allowed us to connect with our co-workers and clients easily through tools that we simply click. But while we adapt easily to the technology, proper meeting etiquette may not be as intuitive. It’s something we need to learn. And why do we need to know etiquette? We need it to maintain order which leads to a productive meeting.

Here’s how to attend a virtual meeting properly:

  1. Stay professional

    Although it has become acceptable to be a little casual in virtual meetings, keep in mind that it is still work. Maintain a level of professionalism by:

    • Being on time – Respect everyone’s time by being online at the appointed time. Popping up in the middle of an on-going meeting is distracting. This can also take up valuable meeting time if the host decides to give you a rundown of what you missed.
    • Wearing something appropriate – Wear a clean top and bottom at the minimum. You may need to put on business-casual/formal wear if you’re meeting with clients.
    • Having an uncluttered background – A busy or messy background is not only distracting, it gives people an insight into your habits and organizational skills. Strive for a clean and simple background or if you’re using Zoom (and you have a fun office culture), use the virtual background feature.
    • Optimizing your set up – Set up in an area with good lighting and where the wi-fi signal is strong. Make sure that it’s a section of the house that is free from distractions and noise. Your note pad, pen as well as reports and other office materials should be within your reach.
  2. Tips for using a webcam graphic

    Image from from Flickr, CC-BY

  3. Check your computer

    Make sure that you have enough battery power so that your computer doesn’t conk out midway into the meeting. Better yet, plug it in. To ensure a strong and clear internet connection, turn off other apps or programs that can take up bandwidth. Check your browser and click off tabs you may have on that aren’t relevant to work. Close files that are sensitive or confidential. Also, beeps and pings are distracting, so turn off notifications or alarms in your computer or mobile phone.

    Always test your audio and video settings before a meeting. Do a dry run if it’s your first time to use the video conferencing app.

  4. Be present

    Introduce yourself and say hi when you enter the meeting especially if it’s an audio call. Listen, participate and stay engaged. Look at the webcam, not yourself. It’s also very distracting when your eyes wander or you constantly speak to someone who is not in the range of your video cam. It can be tempting to do other things while in a long meeting but it will be best to focus. Don’t check your email or type answers to them – your keyboard is near your internal laptop microphone. People will hear you typing.

  5. Mute your microphone when you’re not talking

    One attendee’s background noise can spoil the entire meeting for everyone. You may not notice household sounds around you but your team members will. A buzzing radiator, doors opening or closing, water running, even heavy breathing can interfere with sound quality. Using a headset can minimize this but the best thing is to mute your mic when you’re not talking.

    If it’s hard to minimize noise, consider installing noise cancelling software like Noise Blocker which has a free version or Krisp which does not only cancel your background noise but other participants’ as well (also has a free version).

  6. Don’t monopolize the conversation

    As in real life, nobody likes someone who drones on and on or interrupts others while they are speaking. Always aim for clarity and conciseness and stay within the agenda. If you want to share something related, or have an issue beyond the agenda, ask for a separate meeting or draft an email. Always be mindful of other people’s time and give others an opportunity to speak.

Sources: The 7 rules of virtual meeting etiquette every professional should know, Lindsay Crawford, GoToMeeting; Working remote? Here are the biggest dos and don’ts of video conferencing, Bryan Lovgren, Entrepreneur; The how-tos of video conferencing etiquette, Jamie Davidson, Vast conference; and Want to Stop Looking Terrible on Zoom? 7 Quick Tips to Up Your Video Calling Game, Patrick Lucas Austin, Time. Accessed July 7, 2020.

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