Over recent years we have all been guilty of 'going to work in your pajamas', and why not? That's an interesting term originating from the then-nascent world of remote work. But now that remote work is the new norm, breaking the old rules of work in every context might leave a wrong impression about you, especially when video conferencing is mandatory for virtual meetings.
It doesn't matter whether you are running a 100% remote or hybrid operation. Understanding virtual meeting etiquette will help you get the best out of your team while pursuing the goals that matter most at the moment. And that's what this post is all about.
It might appear that we're stating the obvious, but without stipulated rules of engagement, many people trying to navigate the a world of remote work will continue to struggle along the line or feel disengaged while present in a meeting.
Perhaps the worst thing you can do in a context where virtual meetings are held repeatedly is to leave room for unexpected errors and mismatched expectations. To ensure that everyone stays on the same page during and after meetings, you can use the tips and etiquette shared below.
What is virtual meeting etiquette?
Virtual meeting etiquette is established rules and principles that dictate appropriate behaviour and conduct during online and video conferences. It is a set of guidelines to ensure effective and productive communication while maintaining professionalism and courtesy in the virtual space.
Key elements of virtual meeting etiquette include punctuality, where participants are expected to join the meeting on time, helping to maintain the flow and efficiency of the session.
Importance of virtual meeting etiquette
For some people coming into the world of remote work, it might not be sufficiently clear why virtual meeting etiquette should be taken seriously. If you have ever thought in that line, here are some pointers to guide you on how to approach meetings in this business context.
Professionalism: Maintaining virtual meeting etiquette demonstrates respect for colleagues and clients. Dressing appropriately and conducting oneself with courtesy enhances the company's image and reputation.
Productivity: Following virtual meeting etiquette guidelines, such as punctuality and muting microphones when not speaking, helps maintain meeting efficiency. Doing this saves time and ensures that important business discussions are carried out smoothly.
Communication: Clear and concise communication is vital in corporate settings. Adhering to virtual meeting etiquette, such as taking turns to speak and avoiding side conversations, promotes effective communication, ensuring that everyone's voice is heard and ideas are understood.
Engagement: Virtual meeting etiquette encourages active engagement, reducing participants' risk of disengaging due to perceived unprofessionalism. A respectful and attentive demeanour fosters a collaborative environment where everyone feels valued.
Client relationships: In corporate business, maintaining good client relationships is paramount. Observing virtual meeting etiquette during client meetings not only leaves a positive impression but also ensures that communication with clients is effective, leading to successful business relationships.
Virtual meeting etiquette for remote teams
Whether you are just getting started or have been attending virtual meetings for some time, these online meeting rules will help you get the level of engagement needed to accomplish your meeting goal. Before entering the meeting room, consider sharing these tips as a checklist for all attendees. Again, you don't have to leave room for unexpected errors and mismatched expectations. And that's how to give everyone the best meeting experience.
1. Punctuality (Being on time):
Joining a virtual meeting on time is a fundamental element of good etiquette. Punctuality is essential in any professional setting, whether in-person or online, as it demonstrates respect for other participants' schedules and the importance of the meeting. When attendees are punctual, the meeting can start on time, and discussions can proceed as planned, preventing delays and ensuring everyone can make the most of the allocated meeting time.
2. Professional dress:
While working remotely, the temptation to attend meetings in casual attire can be strong. However, dressing professionally for virtual meetings is crucial, especially in a corporate context - dress as you would if it were an in-person meeting. Dressing well demonstrates your commitment to the meeting's formality and conveys a sense of professionalism. It also shows respect for the meeting and the participants, particularly in client-facing or high-stakes situations.
3. Microphone control (Muting):
Effective mic and audio management are essential for a smooth virtual meeting. Muting your microphone when not speaking helps eliminate background noise, feedback, and unintended interruptions. Failing to do so can lead to a cacophony of sounds that disrupt the meeting's flow and make it difficult for others to concentrate on the discussions. By muting your microphone, you create a more conducive audio environment for your co-workers and all participants.
4. Camera set-up:
Enabling your video camera during virtual meetings enhances the quality of communication. It provides a more engaging and personal connection by allowing participants to see each other's facial expressions and non-verbal cues. Visual cues are essential for conveying emotions, reactions, and engagement. This practice ensures better interaction and also helps create a sense of presence among participants. If possible raise your laptop or camera so that it is at eye level (not looking up your nose!). These are some of the ways to make your meetings more engaging and encourage others to express their true selves through video.
5. Minimize distractions:
In a remote work environment, it's easy to be surrounded by potential distractions, such as family members, pets, or cluttered backgrounds. Minimizing distractions in your workspace is crucial to maintain focus and professionalism during virtual meetings. A clean, organized, and noise-free environment lets you concentrate on the meeting's content and convey your dedication to the discussion.
6. Announce yourself (Introduction):
Introducing yourself when joining a virtual meeting, particularly in larger groups or when participants may not be familiar with one another, is a courteous gesture. It sets a friendly and inclusive atmosphere, making all attendees feel acknowledged and valued. This simple act of briefly stating your name and role can enhance the overall meeting experience by putting names to faces, even when participants are dispersed remotely.
7. Stay engaged:
Staying engaged throughout the virtual meeting is paramount. It means giving the meeting your full attention without engaging in multitasking, checking emails, or participating in side conversations. Distractions can lead to a lack of participation, hinder your understanding of the discussions, and create an unprofessional impression. Demonstrating attentiveness contributes to a more productive meeting environment.
8. Raise your hand (Digital hand-raise or announcements):
In a virtual meeting, it's essential to maintain order and structure to ensure a productive discussion. One way to do this is by using the digital hand-raise feature or specific phrases like "I have a question" or "I'd like to add" to indicate your intention to speak. This practice prevents interruptions and allows for a more organized and respectful exchange of ideas. It ensures that every participant has an equal opportunity to contribute and share their insights.
9. Clear and concise communication:
Effective communication is the cornerstone of a successful virtual meeting. Speaking clearly and concisely is crucial for conveying your message efficiently and comprehensibly. Avoiding long-winded monologues, jargon, or overly complex language is essential to ensure clarity and ensure everyone can follow the discussion. Clarity in communication promotes a better understanding of the topics under consideration.
10. Turn off app notifications during your remote meeting
Digital notifications can be a significant source of distraction during virtual meetings. Maintaining focus and preventing interruptions require that you turn off non-essential notifications on your computer or mobile device. This simple step ensures that your attention remains squarely on the meeting, contributing to a more productive and respectful atmosphere.
11. Respect meeting length (Stick to schedule):
Respecting the scheduled duration of the webinars is essential for effective time management. Staying on topic and adhering to the meeting's agenda is a key aspect of this etiquette rule. By doing so, you demonstrate your commitment to using time efficiently and show respect for the schedules of all participants. This practice prevents unnecessary meeting extensions and ensures everyone can plan their day accordingly.
12. Tech preparedness:
Being technologically prepared for a virtual meeting is crucial to prevent disruptions. Try to familiarize yourself with the meeting platform, its features, and how to troubleshoot common issues. As part of the online meeting etiquette, it's important to let participants know the ground rules before the meeting with your virtual team.
Conduct equipment checks in advance to ensure that your camera, microphone, and internet connection are functioning correctly without interruption. Technical difficulties during the meeting can be disruptive and require troubleshooting, which can waste valuable meeting time and frustrate participants. To avoid such experiences, ensure that your webcam and microphone is working properly.
13. Follow meeting agenda:
Sticking to the meeting agenda is vital to maintain a productive and efficient discussion. Straying off-topic can lead to time-wasting and hinder the achievement of the meeting's objectives. Adhering to the agenda, you help ensure that the meeting stays focused on its intended purpose and that all relevant points are addressed within the allotted time.
14. Feedback and questions:
Encouraging a culture of constructive feedback and questions is essential in a virtual meeting. Constructive feedback fosters collaboration, improvement, and a better understanding of the topics. Asking questions when necessary not only clarifies any points of confusion but also encourages an exchange of ideas and diverse perspectives. This practice contributes to a more dynamic and productive meeting environment.
15. Follow-up (Summary and action items):
After the meeting concludes, it's good practice to send a summary or a list of action items to all participants. This follow-up step ensures accountability and alignment on the meeting's outcomes and any subsequent steps that need to be taken. It serves as a reference point for all participants and helps avoid miscommunication or misunderstandings regarding the decisions or tasks assigned during the meeting. Take advantage of new AI tools with transcriptions and meeting summaries, which can also be shared along with a recording of your session.
Frequently asked questions about virtual meetings
What are the two examples of bad digital etiquette?
Interrupting others: Interrupting or talking over others during a virtual meeting is a clear breach of etiquette. It disrupts the flow of the discussion, can lead to misunderstandings, and shows a lack of respect for the speaker. Proper etiquette dictates waiting for your turn to speak and using features like the digital hand-raise to indicate your intention to contribute. Interrupting can hinder effective communication and create a chaotic meeting environment.
Multitasking and distractions: Engaging in multitasking or allowing distractions to take your focus away from the meeting is another example of poor virtual meeting etiquette. Whether it's checking emails, browsing the internet, or engaging in unrelated conversations, such behavior signals disinterest and can lead to misunderstandings and missed opportunities for participation. To maintain a respectful and productive meeting environment, you must give full attention to the meeting and minimize distractions.
What is a virtual meeting platform?
A virtual meeting platform is a software or online service that enables individuals or groups to conduct meetings, conferences, or collaborative sessions over the internet using video, audio, and chat tools. Platforms such as Teams, Zoom and Webex were the first technologies to pioneer in the space, where a user had to download a dedicated App to connect. However, recently more advanced and interactive solutions are now easily accessible straight from your browser, such as Cloudpresenter. These platforms facilitate remote communication and interaction, allowing participants to connect and share information from different locations on any device. They are valuable tools for remote work, online education, and other virtual gatherings.
What are the key features of a virtual meeting?
Key features of a virtual meeting include the ability to conduct remote discussions via video and audio, share screens and documents for collaboration, use text chat for real-time communication, schedule and organize meetings with calendar integration, record sessions for later viewing, and facilitate engagement through features like digital hand-raising, polling, and breakout rooms. These features enable effective remote communication, collaboration, and information sharing, making virtual meetings an essential tool for remote work, online learning, and connecting with participants from different locations.
In todays fast pasted world where we are constantly communicating across multiple devices, virtual meeting etiquette may seem trivial, but getting the best results out of your virtual meetings is not something that happens by accident. From the agenda to virtual meeting platform selection and audience engagement, you must ensure everything is planned accordingly. Most importantly, it would be best if you endeavored to communicate the meeting etiquette and rules to everyone involved ahead of time. In managing remote teams, it is better to create standard operating procedures (SOPs) or checklists for your workforce, to guide everyone on best practice. By following the simple practical tips shared in this post you'll be able to ensure everybody stays on the same page from the beginning to the end of all your virtual meetings.