During the weeks that turned into months of practicing social distancing during COVID-19, video meetings, such as Zoom, soared. Video chat became the go-to outlet for everything from keeping grandparents and grandchildren in touch, wine and chat sessions between gal pals and of course work meetings.
For connection time with loved ones, pretty much anything goes but when it comes to online work gatherings, practicing good video meeting etiquette is critical to ensuring your meetings are professional, efficient and valuable.
There’s no substitute for good manners in all of our daily interactions and they are certainly appreciated more than ever in workplace meetings.
Habits you would display during in-person work meetings are guidelines that also comprise good online meeting etiquette. It’s absolutely crucial to be extra considerate of the time of others. Applying the principals of punctuality, maintaining eye contact and paying attention are just as (if not more) important in video meetings for generating a productive business environment.
"A lot of times in person, you will sit and talk to one or two people at a time during a meeting,” says Carla Bevins, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, who specializes in business communication. “All of a sudden, it flattens out when you’re on a Zoom. Everybody’s looking at you all at once. It’s a whole different dynamic.”
Some of the most common-sense meeting decorum includes avoiding loud eating or drinking, minding your body language and listening to whoever is speaking. These should be no-brainers, but here are additional etiquette tips to help ensure a focused and effective online meeting.
• To help keep background noise to a minimum, make sure you mute your microphone when you are not speaking.
• Be mindful of background noise
• When your microphone is not muted, avoid activities that could create additional noise, such as shuffling papers.
• Pauses in your speech are critical, especially since lagging internet speeds may mean it’s easy for someone to talk over someone else, drowning out what they have to say to the group.
• If you choose to use a web camera, be sure it is in a stable position and focused at eye level, if possible. Doing so helps create a more direct sense of engagement with other participants.
• If you are not using a camera, say your name when you speak.
• Limit distractions
• You can make it easier to focus on the meeting by turning off notifications, closing or minimizing running apps, and muting your smartphone.
• Avoid multi-tasking
• You'll retain the discussion better if you refrain from replying to emails or text messages during the meeting and wait to work on that PowerPoint presentation until after the meeting ends.
• Prepare materials in advance
• If you find yourself in a politeness contest with someone who’s speaking at the same time as you – “no, you go ahead” try using Zoom’s “raise hand” function.
• Use the side chat to write ideas, so your train of thought is not lost if someone talks before you have a chance.
• If you will be sharing content during the meeting, make sure you have the files and/or links ready to go before the meeting begins.