It’s likely that in the last eight weeks, you’ve participated in more online meetings than in your entire career. As a remote worker you’d think I’d be holding about the same amount, but believe it or not, I’m logging on to many more as well! That’s why online meeting etiquette is increasingly important.
Between work meetings, online fitness classes, and telehealth appointments we’re communicating through computer screens now more than ever. Practicing proper etiquette will help your meetings proceed smoothly while also improving the remote work experience for your team.
Read on for tips on how you can practice and encourage online meeting etiquette.
Don’t Surprise People With Video
The number one “don’t” when it comes to online meeting etiquette is springing a surprise video call on participants. Let’s be honest, many of us are not dressing in our normal work attire at this time. It’s also highly possible your coworkers haven’t showered in a few days. The last thing anyone wants to do is log in to a Zoom or Go To Meeting call to be greeted by their boss on video.
That doesn’t mean you should skip video calls altogether. In fact, they can be a great way to connect with your team or clients, especially if you’re used to seeing them regularly. Just make sure they know it’s coming! An easy way to make sure everyone is prepared is to highlight whether the call will be video or audio-only in the invite.
Speaking Of Video Calls
There’s no doubt you’ve seen a number of videos of newly remote workers getting caught in some very embarrassing situations over the last few weeks. And while hilarious to watch, the last thing you want is to be the center of another viral video.
When on a video call, it’s important to always be aware of where the camera is and when it’s on. Most online meeting software allows you to check your video before logging on to the meeting. Instead of clicking right through, check to see what’s in your background. Is there anything inappropriate behind you? Do you need to adjust the camera angle so your coworkers can’t see that you’re not wearing pants? Are you in a spot where an unsuspecting partner may casually walk by in their underwear?
Not only do you need to be aware of what’s showing up on your camera, but you also need to make sure it’s off when you think it’s off. Don’t just minimize your meeting when it’s over, click that “x” button! Otherwise, you may end up like this guy…Heck, you may even want to shut your laptop for a moment or purchase one of those handy camera covers, just to be safe.
Location, Location, Location
As mentioned above, it’s important to notice what’s on your camera during a meeting. But even if you aren’t logging on to a video call, location is important.
Consider the potential background noise that may be picked up from where you are sitting. Have a couple of dogs who love to bark at anything that passes by? Then your living room may not be the optimal location (can you tell I’ve learned from this experience?). Is there a lot of chatter from children or partners on their own online meetings? It may not be a bad idea to lock yourself in the bathroom for the duration of your meeting. And sure, no one wants to have to take a call from the toilet, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and these are certainly desperate times.
Another note for those who will be on video, if possible, setting up in front of a source of natural light will make sure you’re looking your best, whether you decided to go through your full make-up routine or not.
We’ve all experienced an online meeting that was more like an online disaster. From sound delays to people talking at the same time, not being in the same room can make things difficult. Coming prepared, especially when you’re the meeting organizer, is one of the best ways to practice proper online meeting etiquette.
As a meeting organizer, you should still be putting together an agenda, even for online meetings. The more detailed, the better. This gives your team a chance to prepare themselves, and will also let them know what to expect.
At the start of the meeting establish how you’ll decide who talks when. For example, greet everyone and then call on participants one by one to ask how things are going, or to report project updates. Having someone in charge of calling the shots can cut down on a lot of unnecessary chatter and noise. It’s also effective to ask everyone to stay on mute unless they are speaking to the group.
Don’t Have A Meeting Just Because
There’s no doubt about it, this is a crazy time. In fact, it’s likely that some of your team members are not only trying to keep up with work but also responsible for teaching their children as well. Add in dealing with personal lives and all the feelings that are evoked by a global pandemic, time is even more precious than usual these days.
If there have been few developments since the last time you met, whether it be the day before or a week later, don’t have your team log on to a meeting just because that’s what you normally do. Not only is it a waste of time for your company, but it can also drain team morale. There is such a thing as virtual meeting fatigue (as many of us are finding out.)
Online meetings are far more productive when they have a specific purpose and everyone has something to contribute. Your employees will be more engaged when they know the meeting will accomplish something and won’t resent you for wasting their time.
Now that doesn’t mean you can’t hold a weekly Friday afternoon virtual happy hour for your team. Just don’t make it mandatory – if employees want to participate, they will! Anyway, who would pass up on that mood-booster?
You Can Be An Online Meeting Star
Follow our tips for online meeting etiquette, and you’ll be on your way to crushing the remote work game. And if the above information helps your meetings go smoother, be sure to let us know on social media, and don’t forget to share your tips with us! We may be remote work veterans, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn a thing or two!
What practices are working well for your online meetings?
Leah K. Williams
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