The use of virtual meetings in business environments is not a new phenomenon, but the occurrence of the Covid-19 pandemic and the shift to remote working has made them commonplace.
In particular, the increased use of platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams have put a new focus on the importance of virtual meeting etiquette. Indeed, there are a lot more opportunities to commit an indiscretion that could lead colleagues, clients or the boss to question your professionalism.
Test the Technology
Before the meeting is due to begin, conduct a test of your technology (computer, applications, camera and microphone) to make sure everything is functioning properly. You don’t want the meeting to be delayed by something that could have been avoidable.
Stick to the Agenda
The informal nature of virtual meetings makes it is especially easy to become distracted and veer off topic. For the sake of productivity and focus, its important to stick to a predetermined agenda. A good tip is to limit the amount of items on your agenda and send them out to participants beforehand.
Virtual meetings often come with the benefit of being able to dress more casually, but it is still important to make sure you are wearing something that is appropriate. Whilst, there is probably no need to wear a suit, professional and clean clothing is recommended. It is also important to check your overall appearance in the mirror before the meeting begins- you want the meetings participants to focus on what you are saying and not what you look like.
TIP: Getting dressed into more professional or workday attire can help put you into a more productive mindset.
Check Your Background
Be cautious of what your virtual audience can see during your meeting – you do not want the participants detracted by a messy environment or something moving in the background. The best background is a relatively blank one, with many virtual meeting platforms allow you to change or blur the background if needed.
TIP: Beware of virtual backgrounds that some applications let you use – whist a beach behind you may seem amusing to you it may not go down well with your audience. These backgrounds can also cause your image to flick in and out of focus.
The quality of home internet connection and the reliability of devices can significantly vary between participants, making it important to speak slowly and enunciate your words. If there are a number of people on the call its important to only speak one at a time to avoid confusion.
TIP: Keep in mind that there’s often a minor delay when someone talks, so pause after asking a question or listening to someone’s response.
Keep Eye Contact
There’s a lot to see on your screen during virtual meetings: images of yourself and your colleagues, the main presentation or an ongoing transcript of the conversation between participants. Off-screen, you might have other people in the home with you. Make “eye contact” with others in the meeting by looking at the camera when you’re talking and listening.
Limit the Amount of Noise
The ideal place to conduct a virtual meeting would be in a low-traffic room that has a door you can close. If this is not possible, you should opt for an area of your home where others are less likely to be, explaining to other people in the house that you are unable to talk to them during the time of your meeting. You should also put any pets in a separate room and turn of notifications on your device.
TIP: Most videoconferencing services allow you to enter meetings on mute. During the meeting, when you’re not speaking, mute the microphone so people can talk without hearing any distractions from your home.
Be Careful When Sharing your Screen
When sharing your screen with others, it is important to remember that your audience will see everything that you do, including separate windows and tabs. Make sure you close documents you don’t want to share, and temporarily disable any incoming messaging notifications while you’re presenting.
TIP: Most video conferencing software defaults to share only your main screen. Be mindful if using a multi-screen set up.
It is very clear to other participants when someone is not paying attention during a video meeting. Good virtual meeting etiquette and respect for your audience, means resisting the temptation to conduct other tasks during a meeting.
TIP: Remember that turning off your video does not disable your sound. It’s a universal truth that nobody wants to hear you eating or rustling noisy packets.
If you join the meeting on a mobile device, avoid walking around or shifting too much, which can be disorienting to others. Place your device on something stationary, if at all possible, and try not to fidget.
Remember to be kind, take your time and show patience with your colleagues or clients during virtual meetings. People have different levels of comfort and expertise and may require technical assistance or reassurance. Offering help as necessary can help build relationships and make people feel more apart of the team.
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