9 Virtual Meeting Etiquette Tips You Must Know

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August 07, 2020

Hello! You found our list of virtual meeting etiquette tips.

Virtual meeting etiquette is behavior rules for video meetings and conference calls. Virtual meetings function differently than physical meetings and require unique protocols. For example: testing technology, muting your microphone, and cleaning your room.

Specifically, this list includes:

  • virtual meetings best practices
  • virtual meeting etiquette tips for Zoom
  • online meeting tips
  • Webex etiquette

And more netiquette tips too 🙂

So, here is the list!

List of virtual meeting etiquette tips

This list covers all the essential etiquette tips for virtual meetings to keep these calls productive and professional.

1. Give Yourself at Least 15 Minutes to Test Technology

It was 12:59 and I had a meeting at one. I clicked on the Zoom link and entered the room. A dialogue box popped up in the corner of my screen. “Urgent update needed. Will restart computer now.” Before I could hit “remind me later,” my screen went black. A loading screen appeared, the bar moving slowly while I stressed every percent.

I could have avoided the entire technology delay before the meeting. Checking software at least fifteen minutes before a meeting is the most basic virtual meeting best practice. Technology can be buggy. Hardware fails, software updates, and internet lags. Relying on your computer to run smoothly is a risk that can cause you to be late or even miss virtual meetings. Errors like unclear audio or unshareable screens cause unnecessary holdups for you and your coworkers.

If you test your equipment beforehand, then you will ensure that you are actually meeting-ready. Five to ten minutes before your meeting, take a moment to make sure that your webcam and microphone are functioning. Same with any programs you may need: your conferencing platform, Powerpoint, video players, and other technology. Check your internet connection too, using a tool like speedtest.net.

Sometimes technology acts up suddenly. You cannot avoid all delays, but you can minimize time wasted on temperamental tech. The last thing your team wants to do is spend the beginning of every meeting hearing, “is it working now?”

2. Dress as if You are Attending an Interview

Remote work turned “office casual Fridays,” into “home casual everydays.” Goodbye scratchy dress shirt, hello cozy T-shirt! Virtual work dress codes are more relaxed than office rules. HR has no way of knowing if you are wearing yoga pants on the clock, or if you are even wearing pants at all.

Still, there is such a thing as too casual. Virtual meetings still call for professional attire; dressing in business meeting appropriate clothing is good virtual meeting etiquette. Do not be like the network news reporter who got caught on air wearing shorts under his suit top. Wear pants, even if you think nobody will see them. You never know when you may have to stand up.

Plus, dressing in office attire puts you in a work mindset. You can more easily distinguish work life from home life if you wear different outfits for each area.

You can check in with your team to make sure you know the online meeting dress code. If senior management or a client joins the call, a more formal dress code might be required. When in doubt, always err on the side of formality. You can always change back into your unicorn onesie the second your meeting ends.

3. Mute and Muffle the Surrounding Madness

Finding a silent spot can be easier said than done. Sometimes you have no control over whether your upstairs neighbor decides to practice his saxophone or tap dancing, or whether the city sends construction workers to jackhammer outside your window.

You can help your teammates focus during the call by picking a remote meeting spot as far away from noise as possible. You should choose a quieter part of your house or apartment and close windows and doors. Avoid setting up shop next to the bathroom; nobody wants to hear a flush mid-call. You can occupy your pets with toys or treats so that your animals stay quiet. If you have to take an especially important call, then you can ask your spouse to take the children and Labradoodle on a walk.

Google recently announced the addition of a noise cancellation feature for its Meet program, and other companies are likely to compete in the future. Software is evolving to improve call quality, but you can still take action to improve your environment. If you connect your earbuds to your computer, then you will block out most outside noise. I recommend investing in a good set of headphones with a built-in microphone, like this one.

4. Shove Your Clutter in the Closet

“Clean your room, kiddo!” Do I sound like your mom? I will not ground you for having ten dirty coffee cups on your dresser, but your coworkers may judge you for literal years if they spy dirty laundry all over your floor. Tidying your surroundings is standard WebEx etiquette. Disorder in your work environment acts as a distraction and sends the message that you are unorganized.

You do not have to deep clean the house every time you have a Webex call, but you should tidy the area visible on the screen. I recommend that you declutter your space as much as possible. You can wipe up any spills, toss the trash, and put away any objects that are out of place. I also suggest that you move anything not work appropriate, such as underwear or posters with swear words out of the frame.

Pro tip: Treat your virtual meeting space like a real meeting space. You would not dump a pile of sweaty socks on a conference table, so keep your grubby foot gloves out of sight during the call.

5. Banish Scene-Stealers

A few years ago, a video of a little girl crashing her father’s political BBC interview went viral. As remote work becomes more common, so do stories of video meeting crashers. Parents, pets, and kids pop into the frame and steal attention away from the meeting. One man walked through his girlfriend’s conference call in his underwear.

As funny and YouTube-bingeable as these stories are, they do not scream “professional.” Ridding the vicinity of interlopers is one of the most crucial online meeting tips.

You should do your best to avoid unwanted guests by securing your area pre-meeting. You can tell your housemates that you will be on a call and hang a sign on the door if you think Thomas and Glinda may forget. You should lock the door if you can, secure your pets in crates or other rooms, and have somebody watch and entertain your kids.

One of my favorite parts of remote meetings is getting to see my coworkers’ cute pets. Nonetheless, unexpected guests are distracting and can throw a meeting off course. Finding a meeting space where you can be alone is important. Invite your family, friends, and furry friends into the call only when appropriate.

6. Take Five Minutes to Prep Your Digital Workflow

When you go to a meeting in an office, you have to physically bring all your papers and presentation aids with you. Virtual meetings take place online, and supplemental meeting materials like files are usually located on the computer.

You can achieve meeting-readiness by organizing your materials beforehand. When you have to load a presentation or look for a file, the meeting grinds to a halt. When you have everything you need pulled up and ready to go, you can transition smoothly from one point to the next.

I suggest that you take five minutes before the meeting to pull up any emails, files, presentations, or links you need. You can also optimize your browser, desktop, and bookmarks menu so that you can pull up your most-used resources in the blink of an eye.

7. Mute Your Mic. Seriously.

The golden rule of video meetings is to mute your microphone when you are not speaking. Nobody wants to hear rustling papers, typing, breathing, or distant conversations while trying to talk or listen. These noises may be unnoticeable in big real-world conference rooms, but computer speakers amplify these sounds into huge distractions. Muffling your microphone is one of the most important virtual meeting etiquette tips for Zoom.

One exception is when you are doing team building 🙂

You should also not forget to unmute your mic when it is your turn to speak. Chances are your teammates cannot read lips and will not have subtitles. If you forget to turn your microphone back on, your teammates will have no idea what you are trying to say, Michael.

That little microphone icon is your best friend. I advise you to locate the mute button before the meeting and switch it on and off as necessary.

8. Become the World’s Best Uni-Tasker

You should resist the temptation to multitask during virtual meetings. Sure, you could open fifty browser tabs and no one would know. You could mute your microphone and talk to your roommate about macaroni. You could kill the video feed and knock out the dishes. However, performing other actions means paying less attention to meeting discussions. Multitasking is poor virtual meeting etiquette.

The world wires us to do a million things at once. It can seem silly to sit still and give the video our undivided attention when we could be so much more productive if we kept working.

Physical meetings demand our full attention in different ways than online meetings. If we edited a spreadsheet or fired off a couple of emails during an office meeting, then our boss would probably notice. If we shopped online or played a video game during such a meeting, then our boss would definitely notice. Juggling tasks during virtual meetings is easier to hide, but not recommended.

As this study from Harvard shows, human beings are poor multitaskers. We can only fully focus on one job or concept at a time. When we try to split our attention, we perform worse at every task.

Instead of doing other tasks during meetings, schedule separate time to go through all the other “to-do’s” later.

9. Have a Staring Contest with Zoom

An internet picture recently advised me to stick plastic googly-eyes near my webcam so that I make eye contact during video meetings. Though I am not crazy about the idea of sticking craft supplies to my MacBook, I could stand to glance at the camera more frequently.

In person, making eye contact means gazing at the listener’s face. During a video call, we have to look at the camera. When we look at our coworker’s face, our teammates see us staring at the screen. Our coworkers may wrongly believe that we are not paying attention.

Studying the screen while we talk is like looking at the floor, in that we seem unconfident. Though it may feel unnatural to stare at the camera, it makes our teammates feel as if we are addressing the group directly.

Though we do not need to stare at the webcam during the whole online meeting, we should make an effort to glance at it every now and then. Body language is important, and during virtual meetings eye contact is often the only body language available.

FAQ: Virtual meeting etiquette

Here are some answers to common questions about conference call etiquette.

What is virtual meeting etiquette?

Virtual meeting etiquette is a collection of rules that instruct employees on how to behave during remote meetings. Though video calls tend to be a more relaxed atmosphere than physical meetings, professionalism is still required.

How do you prepare for a virtual meeting?

To prepare for a virtual meeting, you should arrive early and test your technology at least fifteen minutes beforehand. To avoid unnecessary transitions and delays, you should gather and open all necessary files and materials prior to the call.

What should you not do in a virtual meeting?

A good rule of thumb to follow is that if a behavior would raise eyebrows in an office, you should avoid that action in a virtual meeting setting. Online meetings permit a more lenient dress code, but you should avoid slovenly, profane, or racy attire. Err on the side of caution, and dress professionally. Also, you sound-proof your space as much as possible. Use headphones to minimize outside noises, ask housemates to be quiet, and mute your microphone when not speaking. Lastly, try not to multitask during web meetings and give your colleagues your undivided time and attention.

In Conclusion…

Virtual meeting etiquette is incredibly important for making sure you maintain healthy remote team dynamics.

Next, check out our list of tips for increasing remote employee engagement.

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Author: Angela Robinson

Team building content expert. Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.

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