You may be asking yourself how to do a work-related videoconference from home without looking unprofessional.
Indeed, it is challenging. There are the kids around you, maybe pets as well, spouses walking around unexpectedly in the background in their pajamas.
Not to mention that at home we often lose track of time because we have a pile of other chores to do. We lack the motivation to put on our new clothes, knowing that nobody’s going to notice how well we look in them.
All these factors could lead to awkward situations during your video calls.
That’s why this article will serve as your virtual meeting etiquette guide, providing you with 9 video tips:
- Double-check your settings
- Put your workstation in order
- Be polite and considerate
- Dress accordingly
- Warn anyone around you about your meeting
- Mute yourself when others speak
- Don’t multitask
- Don’t be late
- Don’t forget to leave the meeting once you’re done
1. Double-check your settings
Double-checking comes first in my list of ground rules for video conferencing.
It goes without saying that you should always check your camera and microphone prior to your video meeting.
In case something’s not working properly and needs adjustment, you will have the time to fix it instead of frantically apologizing to the other participants about the inconvenience.
Devices, as well as platforms, often choose the most inappropriate moments to break down and cause problems, so be prepared and avoid stressful situations.
Cincopa also highlights that setting up your screen beforehand is an important part of conference call etiquette.
Imagine having to share your screen and you forgot to close all the other tabs that are not related to your meeting’s purpose.
Your boss won’t be happy noticing that your Facebook page stays open while you’re supposedly working.
Having all your documents and websites up and ready to share with others gives a great impression and saves time.
2. Put your workstation in order
Number two in the ground rules for video conferencing is that you should put everything around you in order.
Even though chaos is regarded by scientists as a natural occurrence, it shouldn’t be such for you.
Having a bowl of cereal on your desk, a bunch of clothes hanging on your chair, and some unfolded blankets in the background screams ‘unprofessional’.
Don’t fall victim to the comfort of your home.
Clear the background, and ensure that you have enough free space around you to put some paper materials, other devices, or simply a glass of water without fearing that if you move a bit they might fall off your desk.
Videoconference lighting is also fundamental. People should be able to see your face clearly. So position yourself facing the window or turn on the lamp and stay in your camera’s reach and scope.
3. Be polite and considerate
Your real-life manners should be put into action in the virtual world as well.
Make sure to introduce yourself at the beginning of a meeting and state your name if the participants don’t already know you.
Be patient and don’t interrupt even if you strongly disagree with what’s being said.
Wait for your turn to speak and then start a discussion or express your opinion.
Announce if something unexpected is happening and you need to leave the room shortly.
Assume that not everyone is seeing what you’re doing or what’s happening around you and explain the situation so that people are not left with the wrong impression.
Apologize for any inconvenience that you cannot fix.
4. Dress accordingly
This is, maybe, one of the most neglected online meeting norms. Online business etiquette requires you to dress appropriately from the waist up, at least!
Your home outfits might be quite comfortable, but people are probably used to seeing you in your prior-Covid-19 work attire and they’ll be surprised to see your hoodie + sweatpants duo-regardless of how elite the brand might be.
Put on a clean shirt each morning, even if you don’t have any calls scheduled for the day because you never know when duty might call (figuratively and literally).
5. Warn anyone around you about your meeting
Another important virtual meeting etiquette tip worth mentioning is to inform any possible interrupters about your schedule.
This could save you some embarrassment and awkward moments.
Think of your kids walking into the room, mid-session, screaming that they’ve dropped their favorite toy in the toilet.
And you’ve got to take it out. Immediately.
Not cool, huh?
That’s why you should make sure that everyone in the house knows that for an hour and a half, or maybe two, you’re off-limits.
6. Mute yourself when others speak
When it comes to virtual meeting etiquette and the ground rules for virtual meetings, muting yourself while others speak seems like a logical thing to do.
However, few people actively practice it because they either forget to or simply want to be constantly able to add to the conversation.
BUT! Remember the no-interrupting part of the conference etiquette? Consequently, your mic shouldn’t be constantly on.
If you have something to say some videoconferencing software even allows you to raise your hand virtually and let the speaker know about your intentions.
Also, if you’re doing a one-on-one meeting or a group meeting, sometimes microphones might create an echo, which will inevitably result in poor audio quality for everyone.
The solution is easy: Mute yourself until it’s your turn to speak.
7. Don’t multitask
Managing several tasks at once is not a part of the call etiquette and you should avoid it. Your attention should be entirely on your video meeting.
Only relevant materials to the topic being discussed should appear in your browser, as I’ve mentioned earlier.
No checking of social media news feeds, no texting with other people, no eating, no distractions whatsoever.
As simple as that.
Even if you’re not that actively participating in the video call, be an active listener, and pay attention. Someone might ask you a question at some point or notice that you’re distracted.
8. Don’t be late
Running late happens to everyone.
Sometimes you might have a valid excuse, but watching the next episode of The Office and remembering that you have a scheduled meeting in two minutes is not valid at all.
Teleconference etiquette, as well as any other type of etiquette, says that you should be punctual.
Making your co-workers or your clients wait should not be a daily practice of yours because they won’t tolerate it for long, believe me.
Otherwise, they’ll start overlapping and you’ll find yourself multitasking or procrastinating. None of which is efficient in this case.
9. Don’t forget to leave the meeting once you’re done
This is not an official online meeting norm because a lot of videoconferencing software simply shut everyone out of the meeting space as soon as the host closes the window, but some don’t.
You should be extra careful about your privacy and make sure that you have closed the window yourself or that you have left the meeting room successfully.
One useful feature of both Mac laptops and other PCs is that there’s an indicator, next to the camera, that notifies you when it’s active.
If the light is still on, check again whether you have left the call correctly.
Ground rules for video conferencing – summarized
In fact, remote meeting etiquettes do not differ much from real-life meeting etiquettes.
Thus, I think that this virtual meeting etiquette guide with ground rules didn’t mention anything that you don’t already know.
The problem is that people are already too familiar with the ground rules but only fail to follow them.
I hope that this list of tips for conference calls would help you achieve your career goals in the virtual industry.
If you are already working in it and are looking to offer your services in a more professional way, we’ve got just the piece for you!