Show up prepared; be on time; get involved in the discussion: these are just some of the basics of meeting etiquette that we’re all familiar with.
When it comes to online meetings, having good etiquette is just as important, and although many of the same rules apply, there are a few other vital things you need to consider.
Preparing for the meeting
- Read through the agenda (if there is one) so you know what to expect and have your own notes ready.
- Dress appropriately. You may be tempted to work in your pyjamas when you’re at home but ensure you get appropriately dressed before jumping on a call. Just like you would in a regular, face-to-face meeting, dress according to your audience; more formal meetings may require a more formal outfit.
- Choose a quiet spot to sit where you know you won’t be disturbed. Make sure it’s well lit (don’t sit with your back to a window!), and the background is neutral and uncluttered.
- Mute notifications on your computer and put your phone on silent. If you’re sharing your screen, make sure you only have the relevant windows open.
- Let the people you live with know you’re going to be on a call so they won’t disturb you and shut the door behind you if you can.
- Check your equipment. This includes making sure your battery is charged and your camera and microphone are working correctly. Most video conferencing tools let you check your equipment before joining the call.
- Get comfortable! Especially with long meetings, you must be sitting in a comfortable chair (not bed). Don’t forget to grab yourself something to drink as well.
During the meeting
- Turn your camera on. Being able to see each other will significantly enhance engagement, and you’ll get used to being on camera in no time.
- Make sure to greet everyone when you join the video call and, if there’s time for some informal chatting before the start of the meeting, try to get involved. Ask how everyone’s doing; it’s a great way to break the ice and feel more comfortable in front of the camera.
- Mute yourself when you’re not speaking to avoid background noise disrupting the call.
- Pay attention to the presenter as you would in real life. Stay focused on your screen – don’t start typing or working on other tasks, even if it is tempting from time to time. Phones are off-limits too.
- Be mindful of your body language. From the presenter’s perspective, it can be hard to interpret how the meeting is going without verbal feedback, so making an effort to nod or smile when you agree with something can help them read the room. Avoid yawning and stretching as they will probably take this as a sign of disengagement.
- Don’t interrupt people. This can be rather tricky during video calls as there may be a slight delay, and you and someone else may accidentally end up speaking simultaneously. Be gracious and let them make their point before jumping in.
Navigating meetings in the virtual world may bring new challenges. Still, ultimately the etiquette is essentially the same: come prepared, focus, get involved and be polite, friendly and professional, and you’re well on your way to having a successful and productive meeting.