Etiquette for video calls? Sounds like something we all think we’re already good at. But there’s more to it than remembering to wear pants or keeping the cat off the keyboard.
Whether we are working from home or from a coworking facility like CoLab, most of us spend our days in FaceTime, Zoom and other videoconferencing meetings rather than meeting in person. It may have started during the pandemic, but the trend isn’t going anywhere too soon. It’s the new normal. And while we have all seen the memes and commercials about wardrobe missteps caught on camera, conducting effective online meetings means more than making sure we are wearing appropriate attire on our bottom half. Let’s face it, we could all use an etiquette lesson in the dos and don’ts to make these meetings more effective – and sometimes, even to save face.
According to a study by Get VOIP, 62% of companies use three or more video calling platforms; Zoom had over 300 million meeting participants per day in 2020, Google Meet had over 100 million daily meeting participants in 2020, and Microsoft Teams had 250 million active daily users in 2021.
Before you sign in for your next meeting, see what experts like Emily Post, Zoom and other top business entities have to say about making sure virtual meetings are just as professional as gathering around the conference room table.
A crash course course in etiquette for video calls and virtual meetings
Be on time
Because we can take virtual meetings from anywhere, excuses like traffic and car trouble are no longer valid reasons to be late. Unless you plan to tell people there was a long line at the coffee maker in your kitchen, make sure you are at your computer and ready a few minutes before the meeting’s start time.
Learn the controls
Make sure you know how to work the video platform you’ll be using before the meeting starts. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the controls. You don’t want to be fumbling for the mute button when the fire engine sirens start getting loud outside your window, or accidently share a private chat comment with everyone participating, or even share a picture of your dog when you meant to put up the agenda file instead.
Don’t check emails, work on a presentation or complete your Amazon order during a video conference. Research shows that only 3% of people can multitask effectively, and even if you are one of them you don’t want to look like the call isn’t important to you.
Make eye contact
An important aspect of video conferencing etiquette is appearing to make eye contact with other meeting attendees. This can be hard to do if you’re on a call with a number of participants. But looking right into the webcam shows others you are engaged and paying attention.
Don’t pace. Colleagues stop listening if they are distracted watching you and your moving background. If you must change locations, don’t just grab the laptop and go, making everyone feel dizzy like they’re on a wild ride. Turn off the video momentarily until you are settled again.
Stage the video properly
Make sure your background is business appropriate, where there isn’t a lot of clutter or other things to steal participants attention away from you. Good lighting helps you look your best. It’s best to have your head and shoulders in the picture, with some breathing room between your head and the top of the screen. Set yourself up so you can look directly into the camera as much as possible.
Direct your meeting
If you are the host, let your group know the agenda for the meeting and whether interruptions can be accommodated or if questions and comments should be saved for later. Try to regulate how much others can talk and who can speak next. This can help avoid a free-for-all atmosphere, just like for an in-person meeting
It can be distracting or just plain annoying for people to hear you eat. Drinking coffee or water, provided you sip and not gulp, is acceptable. But crunching on chips or taking a loud, noisy bite of a sandwich because you missed lunch is not.
Mute yourself when not speaking
You may think you are being quiet, but most microphones pick up even minor background noises, like coughs, typing, or paper rustling. These sounds can distract other participants and become annoying.
Take deliberate pauses
With people logging in from different locations, it’s likely you’ll have different connection speeds. This makes quick back-and-forth conversation more challenging. Take a deliberate, slightly extended pause in between sentences to give other people the opportunity to catch up and even to speak.
Turn on the Camera
Avatars and stock photos are no longer acceptable stand-ins at many workplaces. They’re difficult to take seriously and make everybody wonder what you’re up to. Even for introverts and even on bad hair days, it’s important to show up in person. even when you are meeting virtually.
Minimize the Interruptions
Turn off your phone (unless you are participating in the meeting from your phone!). Stop message notifications and Instagram alerts. Arrange for privacy. For most business meetings today, pets and children are no longer the cute intrusions they were in the early days of the pandemic. Make sure the other meeting participants know the business you are conducting on the call is important and has your undivided attention.
Run Your Business With CoLab
CoLab offers coworking memberships in a safe, convenient, and cost-effective environment among a community of other professionals just like you. Working remotely in our coworking facility gives you access to a wealth of networking opportunities and the ability to share tips and tricks, like etiquette for video calls, to help you work more effectively. Contact us at 203-208-8488 for a tour or schedule a tour here!