Since the COVID-19 outbreak, there has been meteoric adoption of remote and hybrid work systems. Organizations of all sizes turn to virtual meetings for remote team collaborations, leading to a surge in the usage of video conferencing software.
Virtual meetings, similar to traditional offline meetings, are high-energy events where team members collaborate to solve problems. Unfortunately, such meetings can become less productive because participants join meetings from home or some random locations; it's easy to come in with a less unofficial mindset. Hence the need for virtual meeting etiquettes.
Whether you are a student, employee, or team leader, in this article, we provide 13 etiquettes for online meetings so that everyone makes the best out of virtual team meetings. Let’s start!
The fact that your meeting is no longer in-person doesn’t justify haphazard meeting procedures. Staging a fruitful virtual meeting requires planning and deliberate efforts from all participants. Here are seven online meeting etiquette for attendees to make your invested time worthwhile.
Your first big step towards a successful online meeting is preparation. Before jumping on the call, do some ground works. You don’t want to be in the conference as a stranger, scrambling for thought or playing a back role.
Making preparation sends the right signals to your body system that you are in for something important. Below is a bucket list of to-dos before the meeting.
Add the meeting to your calendar so you won’t forget it.
Ask for the meeting agenda to know what it is all about.
Do the necessary research and prepare documents to avoid the last-minute rush.
Test your internet connection.
Get conversant with the software to avoid technical hiccups along the line. Check out features like screen sharing, microphone control, chat, annotation, etc., to quickly locate them when the meeting is on.
If you are the host, share necessary documents, instructions, and information with participants before the meeting.
This is another crucial virtual meeting etiquette for participants. Behind you, the next thing your team members see is your background, which should be clean and free of activities that may lead to distractions for other attendees.
A plain background with sufficient lighting is best.
If you’ve been working remotely, the ideal venue for your virtual meeting should be your home office. If you don’t have that, you can get a makeshift workspace or room that people access less frequently in your home. To take it further, put a do-not-disturb note on the entrance.
A good practice is to fix your background before the meeting starts. Turn on your camera to inspect your environment, see what other participants will see, and make adjustments.
The temptation to hop on an online meeting in your pajamas and finger-combed hair is natural. After all, you are in your comfort zone. However, this is not professional, as your dressing gives others a perspective of how important the meeting is to you.
Dress as if you were reporting to work or attending the meeting in person.
While there's no fixed rule on what you should put on for a virtual meeting, you must avoid leisure wear like ripped sweatshirts and sportswear. If you are unsure what to wear, dresses that befit your company culture are forever appropriate.
Punctuality and professionalism are inseparable.
Whether an offline or virtual meeting, coming late is disrespectful to other participants. Coming late as an attendee will make you miss the first-rate agenda and even disrupt the meeting procedures, especially if you are a keynote contributor.
And if you are the host, that’s more horrible to keep participants waiting, as they can’t start without you. It’s recommended that you log in several minutes before the meeting.
A virtual meeting etiquette that attendees seldom remember is to silence phones and other noises, maybe because they see phone rings and other noises as less distraction.
On a typical day, ringing phones, notifications, dangling bangles (for females), and doorbells are no distractions. But they can set your meeting back for a few minutes if they occur while a virtual meeting is on.
Before your meeting starts, make it a point always to switch your phone to silent mode, or better still, keep them away if you aren’t using it for the meeting.
Other sources of noise you want to avoid are TV, alarms, Radio, washing machines, car horns, baby screams, dog bark, etc.
When speaking, the best way to get your audience’s attention is to make eye contact. This is also important for virtual meetings. To do so online, you need to treat your camera as your physical audience.
There's nothing wrong with taking a glance at your notebook at intervals. But you must keep it moderate, as prolonged switching of sight from your camera to your notebook can make you look unprepared.
For your audience’s comprehension and convenience, make sure you speak clearly. If your audience is taking points down, give them time to pen your points before moving on.
Knowing when to mute and unmute yourself during a virtual conference shouldn’t be much of an issue.
You may think that you aren’t causing any distraction. In reality, you may. With your microphone on, it picks all sorts of background noises that cause feedback echoes and sends overlapping sound waves to all meeting participants.
Unless you are speaking, presenting, or commenting, an essential online meeting etiquette is to turn off your microphone.
A meeting note is a corporate document for keeping tabs on critical issues in a meeting. Participants can quickly recourse to it should they miss or forget something. Likewise, should any expected attendee miss the meeting, they can fall back on video recordings to catch up on any information.
Sounds complicated to do both? Relax; you don’t have to go through the process manually. The Airgram meeting assistant allows you to automatically record your video meeting (Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams) and take notes without switching to another tool.
With Airgram, you can power up your virtual meetings without the usual back and forth. Write a meeting agenda, take and share notes, live transcribe the meeting, and assign action terms - all these can be done within the Airgram platform.
The creative possibilities of this tool are just limitless.
There are several things you shouldn’t do during an online meeting. While the list is not exhaustive, here are five virtual meeting spoilers you should avoid.
Virtual or not, eating during a meeting is not polite. Showing your face in a virtual meeting with food in your mouth doesn't leave a good impression.
Turning off your camera and microphone is not enough because food is a distraction that can keep your focus off the matter at hand. That’s why long meetings have breaks.
If the hunger pangs hit hard in the course of the meeting, excuse yourself from the meeting. Grab a quick bite and get back to business.
Action speaks louder than voice, they say. Your body movement in a virtual meeting sends clear messages to other participants.
Constantly moving your head sideways shows that something else has your attention. Scratching your head, touching your eyes, and adjusting your seat now and again tells people you are uncomfortable with the meeting.
As the speaker, paying attention to your movement is of utmost importance. All eyeballs in the conference will be on you, and the correct body language can help keep your audience attentive.
Using the keyboard during a virtual meeting is not uncommon. Whether you are doing your due diligence of taking notes or chatting with someone else, the microphone picks up your keystroke and sends the noise to other attendees on the call.
Taking notes is not a crime. But to avoid distraction, it’s encouraged to do it with a separate pen and notebook.
Or better still, let Airgram do the recording for you. This program records and live-transcribes your meeting from A-Z, so you don’t need to worry about missing important information. With Airgram at work, you can get immersed in the conversation all the way through.
It is good practice always to wait till a speaker ends before you voice your thoughts. No matter how important you think it is.
Even in a normal conversation, talking over people is perceived as unethical. Imagine if every other attendee does the same, the meeting will eventually become chaotic.
If you are afraid that you will forget, write down your point in a notebook. Also, most video conferencing apps have a raise hand option. Use it to signify that you have something to say and wait for the moderator’s permission before speaking.
Leaving the meeting before it ends is not advisable, except for important reasons. Doing so without informing others is worse.
Ghosting can also disrupt the flow of the meeting. You don’t want other participants to believe you are there, only to discover you aren’t when it’s your turn to contribute.
If something comes up that needs your urgent attention, notify the host before you leave. That way, they’ll be able to pass on your roles and contribution to others.
If you can treat your virtual meeting like an in-person meeting, there’s no feat achievable in-office. Start with these 13 rules of virtual meetings.
If you are part of a team that uses video conferencing for meetings, sharing and practicing these etiquettes with your team can make your meetings more effective. Whether you are the host or an attendee, they are the add-ons your meeting needs to attain fruition.
Michael started his career as a product manager and then developed a passion for writing. He has been writing on technology, remote working, productivity, etc., hoping to share his thoughts with more people.