In today’s world of business and after the COVID-19 pandemic, an increasing number of people work from home. This has become the norm and as a result, we are devising new ways of communicating with the most popular method being the virtual call or video call.
Because of this shift in communication, many people are still unsure how to behave during virtual calls and haven’t quite mastered the art. To remedy that, I discuss virtual meeting etiquette below so you can jump into your next video call and show everyone else how it’s done.
Punctuality and Preparedness
Virtual meetings usually have a start and end time. Be considerate and adhere to these times. Don’t turn up 10 minutes late and keep everyone waiting. Similarly, respect people’s time and avoid waffling or keeping everyone in the meeting long after its scheduled ending.
Also, make sure you are aware of the meeting agenda! You should be clear on the subject, what is being discussed, and the main points that are going to be addressed.
Proper Dress Code and Appearance
We’ve all seen the memes and footage of employees attending virtual calls in their dressing gowns or pajamas. Don’t be that person. Just because you are at home it doesn’t mean that you should dress down or not make an effort for a video call. Remember that your physical appearance and dress say a lot about your personality and mindset as an employee.
Familiarity with the Chosen Platform
When I was a virtual meeting novice I made this mistake - I was unprepared and had no prior knowledge of the conferencing platform. I had to install Zoom on the fly and as a result, I had no clue what I was doing or how to do anything like enable my video.
Don’t make the mistake I did! If you know you have a virtual meeting upcoming, make sure you know which platform is being used, and familiarize yourself with how it works.
Background and Environment
Like the pajama scenario, we’ve all also seen clips of people attending video conferences in their beds or in a busy pub. Your video background and environment are especially important.
Ideally, you don’t want any distractions such as pets, and your background should be plain so that the focus is on you. Avoid areas with noise so that your audio isn’t disruptive to the other participants.
Mute and Unmute Etiquette
Don’t leave your mic on constantly during a virtual meeting as depending on the strength, background noise can be picked up which can be distracting. Instead, the correct virtual meeting etiquette is to mute your mic when you aren’t speaking.
Camera Usage and Eye Contact
The most difficult part I find about virtual meetings is eye contact and how to use my camera. The issue is the duality of the camera and screen. Your camera is in one location, while your screen is in a different position.
This means that you have to make a choice of where you look. The correct virtual meeting etiquette is to look at the camera and not your screen when talking to someone. This is the closest you can get to eye contact, otherwise you are starting at the screen and it looks unprofessional.
Obviously, you have to look at the screen to gauge reactions and watch other people, but the trick is to flick between both the camera and your screen when you are talking, but for the most part, keep your eyes on the camera.
Participation and Engagement
Participation and engagement are especially important and you have to learn when to and not to speak. Firstly, you should strive to be part of the meeting for proper virtual meeting etiquette - don’t just sit there without speaking or showing any interaction.
Secondly, you have to be considerate of others and know when it’s appropriate to speak. Don’t speak over others and make sure it is the right time to engage.
Proper Note Taking
I can’t count the times when I’ve concluded a virtual meeting only to be bombarded with questions afterward or clarification on things simply because the participants didn’t take notes.
Note-taking is especially important for virtual meeting etiquette because it’s not as easy to simply go and speak to a participant afterward. Be thorough with your note-taking and if necessary, ask the host to record the meeting. You could also transcribe video to text so that you have a written record of the virtual meeting to refer back to at a later date.
Ace Your Next Virtual Meeting With These Etiquette Tips
I hope you are now bursting with confidence and have a clearer understanding of virtual meeting etiquette. The key is to remember that although you are not physically present in the meeting, a basic level of professionalism, self-control, and participation is expected and you should act no differently than if you were in an office environment.