Virtual Meeting Etiquette

BiZQ breaks down the Do’s and Don’ts of hosting and attending virtual meetings.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of virtual platforms for business meetings and events. Along with flexible work arrangements, virtual meetings that take place over video conferencing platforms such as Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams have become integral to our work. Hence, it is timely for us to take a closer look at the proper etiquette one should adopt when conducting or attending these virtual meetings.

The right etiquette not only puts you in a positive light, but it also helps contribute to a more productive discussion among colleagues, clients, and customers.

Whether it is the way you dress or how you prepare your surroundings, the etiquette for a video call will differ somewhat from an in-person meeting. To help you navigate this new setting, here are some tips to help you ensure a smoother and more efficient virtual meeting.

Schedule meetings wisely

As virtual meetings are not limited by specific venues, this has resulted in individuals scheduling more back-to-back meetings, with little transition time in between. Many employees report that they are exhausted by the number of video calls they need to attend daily. To avoid such burnouts, it is important to schedule your meetings wisely. For instance, avoid setting a call during lunch hours or after work. Also, factor in sufficient buffer time between meetings to accommodate calls that overrun, or to simply give yourself a chance to catch your breath and answer nature’s call.

Check your tech

Unlike traditional meetings, virtual ones rely on technology that can sometimes not work properly. Tech issues are unavoidable from time to time, so it is a good idea to log in a few minutes before the start of your meeting to check that your headphones, mic, and camera are in good working order. Logging in early also gives you enough time to inform the host if you are having any difficulties.

Mute your mic when not speaking

To help eliminate any background noise, it is best to mute your mic if you are not speaking. And when you are speaking, try to turn off or lower the volume of any possible distractions, such as notifications from your phone or laptop.

Also, try to avoid shuffling papers, tapping on your keyboard, or making other unnecessary noises when your mic is on. A fan operating nearby can also distort your voice, so you might want to place it further away, or turn it off during the call.

Look at the camera, not yourself

You have probably caught yourself checking your appearance on the screen during a video call. This is a common scenario but is not ideal. What you should do is to strive to always maintain eye contact with the person you are speaking to by looking at the camera. This promotes better engagement during meetings and can help to generate better outcomes.

If you have a hard time doing so, try turning off the video of yourself if your software allows it. If not, you can also cover your image with a document on the screen to avoid the temptation of gazing at your own face.

Get the setting right

Having the best quality camera will not help if your surroundings are too dim or too bright.

Experiment with different lighting setups, whether it is placing a lamp nearby, or moving your workstation near a window that allows natural light in. Whichever light source you choose, ensure that it is placed in front of you and not behind you, as the shadows this creates will make it harder for others to see you.

Beyond lighting, do also make sure that what can be seen through your camera is appropriate. Keep your desk and background neat. Remove and keep out of view anything personal that you do not want others to see or that may not be relevant to the meeting. Consider using virtual backgrounds to minimise possible distractions which could include a pet or family member walking in the background.

Dress for the occasion

We have all heard stories of people who have been literally caught with their pants down during a virtual meeting. As we assume only the top half of the body will be seen, we think we can get away with wearing a pair of shorts during a video call.

However, for whatever reasons, you may suddenly need to stand up during the call or you might accidentally shift the position of your webcam. As such, it is better to be on the safe side and dress as if you were attending a meeting in person to avoid any embarrassing situations that may arise.