Before the pandemic, video conferences at work are rarely held. In most cases, online meetings were only necessary when there are important announcements from the higher-ups who are overseas, or when there are instances when you need to work remotely. Today, video conferences are a norm since a majority of the workforce has shifted to virtual offices and work-from-home setups.
Since nothing prepared us to immediately adapting to this virtual meeting technology, it’s not uncommon to make a few mistakes. Ever experienced getting the entire meeting interrupted by the background noises of dogs, crying babies, and household chatters? Have you ever encountered technical issues that caused you to talk over the other person in the meeting? Have you seen any of your colleagues show up in their pajamas during your video call?
Yup, we’ve all made mistakes at some point. While background noises, technical difficulties, communication barriers, and other distracting factors are inevitable, you can still do something to stop them from messing up your company video conference.
The next time you participate in a company video conference on Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet, take note of these etiquette rules for a clearer and more productive virtual meeting.
1. Don’t be late
There are moments for acting like a VIP, but now is definitely not the perfect time for that. Everything is more visible in a video conference so you can’t always sneak into a virtual meeting late. Or worse, be the reason why the meeting is delayed.
Just because we’re in virtual offices doesn’t mean it’s okay to be late. If you’re going to be late due to a valid reason, let your host know beforehand. Don’t make everyone look for you. You should be ready at least five minutes before the meeting time
2. Keep yourself on mute when not speaking
Even if you think you’re being quiet, your microphone can pick up minor background noises, from loud barks, coughs, and baby cries to ambient sounds like the wind from your airconditioning unit. These sounds can easily distract other participants and potentially cause annoyance and listening barriers.
It’s a common courtesy to mute yourself when you’re not speaking. Tap that microphone icon and make sure it has a slash, indicating it’s off.
3. Minimize visual and auditory distractions
Again, control the distracting noises. Put everything in silent mode. Turn off notifications. Alert your household about your meeting and ask them to stay quiet.
Aside from background noises, there are other ways you can bring in your home’s distractions into the party.
Since it’s more professional to turn on your cameras, keep your background neat. If possible, situate yourself in a home office or a room with a tidy background with no other people walking around or occupying the space. When in doubt, use a blank wall or try the background templates provided by the video conferencing software.
4. Make eye contact
Gestures as simple as eye contact can help make the team feel engaged. When it’s your turn to speak, look at the camera lens of your device to make it seem like you’re making eye contact.
5. Keep your screen clean and safe
Imagine you’re sharing your screen with the team to present something. Little did you know that the adult site you browsed earlier is showing up in one of the tabs, or your desktop wallpaper is a photo of yourself, half-naked on a beach.
Don’t put yourself into this nasty situation. Close your tabs and keep your screen clean.
6. Wear work-appropriate clothing.
It’s a no-brainer. Put yourself in work mode and maintain a professional posture and appearance, such as dressing the way you would as if you’re in a real meeting. While you can sometimes ditch the ultra-formal suit and tie, that doesn’t mean you’ll show up in your pajamas.
Don’t forget to wear a decent pair of pants. You’ll never know when you’re required to get out of the frame.
7. Frame the camera correctly.
Speaking of the framing, make sure you angle your camera correctly. If you’re using your phone, avoid holding it the entire time, as if you’re having a Facetime conversation with your best friend. They don’t need to watch your shaky footage of yourself and your nostrils.
Use a tripod, if necessary, and frame your camera in a way that feels natural. Sit at eye level to the lens and position yourself, showing midsection up. It’s also recommended to have good lighting.
8. Stay focused and present
Sorry to say this but your fellow attendees can notice whether or not you’re listening or doing something else, like scrolling through your phone or working on your laptop. Distracted behavior can affect everyone, especially if it causes your host or organizer to go back and repeat themselves.
Mind your actions during the meeting and make sure you stay focused and engaged. Nod to show that you understand. Avoid doing something while the virtual meeting is ongoing, like eating, scrolling through your phone, and typing. Avoid sneaking out.
9. Be careful not to interrupt others when they’re speaking
Due to lags in video streaming and audio responsiveness, we often unknowingly interrupt others when they’re speaking. Avoid this by allowing 2-5 seconds of silence before responding.
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10. Prepare and make sure your technology works correctly.
The organizer should make sure their video conferencing system works properly to avoid delays and inconveniences. If you’re the host and you’re meeting an important client, consider doing a few test runs with internal employees first to make sure everything runs smoothly on the day itself.
11. Keep the meeting engaging
Raise your hand if you miss physical, face-to-face interactions during this abnormal time. Of course, we all do. With this, it’s much appreciated if virtual office setups and online meetings have a more human approach. If you’re the host, it’s okay to have brief small talks, asking how everyone’s doing before moving on to your meeting’s agenda.
Keep the remote video conference participants engaged. Make your presentations concise and visually-appealing. Ask questions and suggestions. Project your voice too, and maintain eye contact.
12. But stick to the schedule
Make your agenda clear and don’t discuss anything unrelated. Follow the timetable set out in advance. Stay on track and avoid wasting time figuring out what else should be covered or injecting irrelevant items into the meeting. Be respectful of everyone’s time