Professional tips and tricks for embarrassment-free virtual meetings.
“You’re on mute!” said someone at least once in every video conference meeting of 2020. We’re all-too-familiar with this scenario in the age of Coronavirus. Virtual meetings have filled our work days and have replaced nearly every possible form of face-to-face encounter.
However, just because we’re seeing each other over screens instead of in-person, that doesn’t mean professionalism flies out the windows … or Mac. Like your family’s Thanksgiving dinner table (well, not in 2020 — even that’ll be different this year), video conferencing brings its own set of manners to mind. Call it “Zoom Etiquette.” Whether you hate it, love it, or love to hate it, video conferencing is here to stay — at least while Coronavirus is overstaying its welcome, too.
We’ve found these few tips and tricks to be particularly helpful in remaining professional and efficient when working from home. So here you have it: our go-to guide for what to do and what not to do on a virtual meeting.
Dress Like You Mean It:
- Dress as you would for an in-person client meeting. This means, yes, putting on a real shirt — a small feat that once didn’t seem so insurmountable. The good news about meeting over Zoom is that nobody will know that you’ve paired your best button-up with your pajama pants, just as long as you don’t stand up and walk away during the meeting. Which brings us to our next point …
Practice Communication Basics:
- If you need to get up for any reason, give attendees a quick explanation, reassure everyone that you’ll be right back, and simply turn off your video until you return to frame.
- Look into the camera to give the appearance of making eye contact with whoever you’re talking to. Positioning your web camera and monitor at eye level will help simulate that eye-to-eye connection with attendees.
- Showing your face can improve your business prospects and boost your personal brand. A study found that about 80 percent of business professionals believe face-to-face meetings are better for building trust and strong client relationships. So take two minutes to brush your hair pre-meeting, then toggle that video function on!
- You might also be tempted to work on other tasks during a video meeting. However, video conferencing magnifies your presence. It will be more obvious to your co-workers and other meeting attendees that you aren’t paying attention if you’re gazing elsewhere while someone else is talking.
- Show your support for your colleagues through nonverbal cues that you’re paying attention to them. Nod or shake your head, smile, give a thumbs up, or show other signs of affirmation. Even if they can’t hear you, they’ll be able to read your body language and appreciate your responsiveness.
Your Office Ambiance Matters:
- Your home office space doesn’t have to look like it’s just had an HGTV makeover, but keep in mind that people aren’t just seeing you, they’re also seeing whatever the camera is pointed at behind you. Is your backdrop distracting? Tidy? Is it Paris when you’re not supposed to be in Paris right now?
- Video quality is dramatically improved with more lighting. An extra nearby lamp is usually helpful. Just make sure the light is in front of you, not behind you, because a backlit frame will deter people from seeing you well and make you look as though you’re an anonymous witness in some high-profile trial.
- Attend the meeting from a quiet area that has minimal background noise and movement. Any form of background noise can be distracting and drown out the rest of the team on the call. If you aren’t sharing anything at the moment, go ahead and hit mute until you do!
Be a Courteous Host:
- Make sure to introduce everyone at the beginning of meetings. This will help to create a welcoming environment and stimulate engagement among meeting attendees.
- On the flip side, inviting co-workers who don’t need to participate can be detrimental to the quality of the meeting, and can waste their precious time.
- At the end of the meeting, wait until everyone else has left the meeting before hanging up, so attendees can leave at their own pace and get any final words in before disconnecting.
Video Quality is King:
- Video quality can struggle when there is a lot of movement. Resist the urge to ‘talk with your hands,” turn ceiling fans off, and eliminate any other fast or jarring movement as much as possible.
- If your video is lagging, close the seventeen tabs you’re no longer using, or quit inactive windows and apps.
- If you find yourself in a politeness contest with someone who’s speaking at the same time as you, use the “no, you go ahead” gesture.
- Don’t eat snacks during the meeting. Would you eat Doritos during an in-person presentation? You would? Okay, maybe rethink that, too.
- Please don’t blow your nose, pick your teeth, clip your toenails, or do anything of the like during a meeting. Sorry, but that’s something nobody wants to see or hear.
- Be aware that people can see a reflection of your screen if you’re wearing glasses. Don’t have anything on screen you don’t want others to see.
- If you need to take a screenshot or record a call, ask permission before you do so, and let people know why you’re doing so.
- There’s a lot of virtual meeting options. Before using an unfamiliar app, do a test run and ensure that you’re aware of your audio and video settings before you start.
- When sharing your screen, choose a tab over your entire desktop, to ensure that you’re not sharing things clients or customers shouldn’t see.
- If you change your background during your current meeting, keep in mind it will remain as your background in your next meeting too. It’ll remain that way until you manually remove it.
We won’t reveal which of these video conferencing crimes we’ve committed before learning these lessons, but we hope that this list will help you avoid making similar mistakes. Did we miss any crucial virtual meeting tips or tricks? Let us know in the comments below.
Happy Zooming! Here’s to better, more productive online meetings – just don’t forget to mind your virtual meeting manners.