Virtual meetings have become very common in the past few years. But do you still not feel comfortable attending them?
Don't worry, we'll show you all the secrets behind a successful virtual meeting.
What Is Virtual Meeting Etiquette?
Virtual or online meeting etiquette is the set of behavioral guidelines and best practices designed for conducting respectful, efficient, and professional interactions in a virtual meeting setting.
This etiquette is vital for smooth and effective communication when participants are connecting remotely, often from diverse locations and time zones. When etiquette is followed, the order and respect it brings helps avoid unnecessary interruptions or discomfort.
General Tips For a Successful Virtual Meeting
It can be difficult to navigate productive virtual meetings. Here are some general things to remember.
- Prepare a clear meeting agenda: A plan before the meeting is always a good idea; it'll help you follow guidelines during your discussion without worrying about forgetting important points. You might also want to consider sharing the meeting agenda with other attendees before the meeting.
- Avoid distractions: To make a good impression and allow yourself to fully focus on the meeting, minimize distractions and interruptions.
To do this, you should inform anyone in the house or the office about your virtual meeting or participate in a distraction-free room, mute your phone and notifications, turn off the TV or music, and close any irrelevant other tabs on your computer.
- Dress appropriately: It might seem irrelevant, but you should be dressed as if you were attending an in-person meeting. The way you look gives others a certain impression. By dressing appropriately, you're showing professionalism and respect for the occasion.
- Use Breaks and Transitions: For longer meetings, incorporating breaks and transitions is crucial to prevent information overload. This approach allows participants to process the discussed topics and return refreshed.
- Recommended Break Schedule: We suggest taking a 10-minute break after every 50 minutes of meeting time. This practice can significantly improve everyone's performance and attentiveness during the discussion.
Technical Tips for a Smooth Virtual Meeting
The quality and effectiveness of a virtual meeting are heavily reliant on the underlying technology. By paying attention to technical details, you can prevent common disruptions that stem from technical glitches, ensuring that the meeting proceeds smoothly.
Let's dive into the surprisingly many aspects of technical preparations.
Preparing Your Technical Setup
- Check Microphones and Cameras: Ensure your microphone and camera are working properly before the meeting starts. This prevents technical hiccups during the meeting.
- Organize Your Computer Workspace: Review and tidy up your computer's workspace. Close any unnecessary tabs and remove irrelevant or sensitive bookmarks or files. This helps maintain a professional and organized environment during the meeting.
- Mute Your Audio Initially: Start the meeting with your audio muted and only unmute when you need to speak.
- Use Headphones with a Microphone: For better audio clarity and to reduce background noise, consider using headphones with a built-in microphone.
- Eliminate Background Noise: Turn off music, TV, and other gadgets that can cause background noise.
- Mute Notifications: Silence your phone and turn off any disruptive notifications.
- Manage Your Environment: If possible, close windows to reduce outside noise, especially if you live in a noisy area.
- Choose a Quiet Time for Meetings: Schedule the call during quieter periods to minimize interruptions.
- Disable Alarm Clocks: Make sure any alarm clocks or alerts are turned off before the meeting begins.
Screen Sharing Etiquette
Screen-sharing etiquette is an essential aspect of conducting effective and respectful virtual meetings. Here are some key points to consider:
- Preparation: Before sharing your screen, ensure all relevant documents or presentations are open and ready. This preparation helps save time during the meeting.
- Privacy Check: Be mindful of sensitive or personal information on your screen. Close any unrelated or private tabs and documents.
- Announce Before Sharing: Notify participants before you start sharing your screen to give everyone a heads-up to pay attention to the shared content.
- Focus on Relevant Content: Only share the portion of your screen necessary for the meeting. For example in a Google Meet session: at the bottom, click "Present now", then select "Chrome tab", "Window", or "Entire screen".
- Guiding Viewers: When presenting, navigate the audience through shared content. You can do this by highlighting or pointing to specific areas of the screen.
- Check for Clarity: Ensure that what you're sharing is visible and legible for all participants. This action may involve adjusting the zoom level or presentation mode.
- Respect Others' Time: Keep the screen concise and to the point. Share for the necessary duration only and then stop the screen share to return to the regular meeting view.
- Technical Familiarity: Familiarize yourself with the screen-sharing functions of your meeting platform (like Zoom, Teams, etc.) to avoid technical difficulties during the meeting.
Enhancing Communication and Interaction in Virtual Meetings
When engaging in virtual meetings, especially with individuals outside our own company, establishing a strong human connection is key to the meeting's success. These interactions often require an extra level of clarity and personal engagement, as we're not just communicating with familiar team members but potentially with new contacts, clients, or partners.
In such settings, understanding and practicing the proper virtual meeting etiquette becomes even more critical. It’s not just about the content of the meeting, but also about how we present ourselves and connect with others who may not be familiar with our company culture or dynamics.
That’s why the following tips are crucial for virtual meeting etiquette, particularly when meeting with external parties.
Before the meeting starts, make a point to introduce yourself to other remote participants. This introduction should include:
- Your name
- Your position in the company
- Additional information tailored to the situation and audience
Remember non-verbal communication techniques, which include:
- Facial Expressions: Ensure your expressions are engaging and reflect active participation. A nod or a smile can go a long way in showing attentiveness and understanding, especially when you're not the one speaking.
- Eye Contact: While direct eye contact isn’t possible, looking at the camera when speaking gives the impression of eye contact with your audience. This helps create a connection with other participants, but remember to occasionally glance at the screen to observe others’ reactions.
- Tone of Voice: Be mindful of your tone, as it conveys your attitude and emotions. Ensure clarity and vary your pitch to maintain interest. Since visual cues are limited, your voice plays a significant role in expressing sincerity and enthusiasm.
- Posture and Body Language: Sit up straight and avoid slouching to convey alertness and engagement. Even though you’re only visible from the waist up, maintaining good posture impacts your voice and energy levels. Avoid excessive movements as they can be distracting on camera.
- Active Listening: Demonstrate that you’re listening by nodding and using verbal affirmations like "I see," or "That makes sense." This shows you are engaged and encourages further communication.
During online meetings, the role of the moderator is crucial for ensuring a smooth and productive session. The moderator is responsible for guiding the discussion, maintaining order among participants, and ensuring that all agenda items are covered.
To effectively manage these tasks, leveraging certain features of the meeting platform can be immensely helpful:
- Chat Messaging: The chat window, typically located to the right of the main screen, is a valuable tool for moderators. It allows for the sharing of additional information, clarifying questions, or providing links without interrupting the speaker. It's a way to maintain ongoing communication without disrupting the flow of the meeting.
- Hand-Raising Feature: On some meeting platforms, participants can click the "Participants" icon, usually found at the bottom center of the screen, and then select "Raise Hand." This feature helps the moderator see who wishes to contribute without the chaos of multiple people speaking at once. It brings an order to the discussion, ensuring everyone gets a chance to speak.
- Mute Status Management: The microphone icon, often located at the bottom of the screen, allows participants to mute or unmute themselves. As a moderator, reminding participants to use this feature helps control background noise and prevents accidental interruptions.
8 Don'ts to Avoid During a Virtual Meeting
Understanding the Dont's in a virtual meeting is just as vital as recognizing the Do’s.
Ensure you stay on the right track by adhering to these guidelines:
- Don’t be late: Punctuality in virtual meetings reflects your respect for the schedules and commitments of others. Arriving on time, or even a bit early, prevents disruptions in the meeting’s flow and ensures you attend essential discussions. Late arrivals not only interrupt ongoing conversations but also might necessitate revisiting key points, which can hinder the meeting’s efficiency and productivity. Not to mention, people won't appreciate you wasting their time.
- Don’t multitask: Resist the temptation to check emails or do other work. Focus your full attention on the meeting; otherwise, other participants can perceive it as unprofessional or disrespectful.
- Don’t eat during the meeting: Eating can be noisy and distracting. If you must eat, it’s best to do so off-camera, or after the virtual call. Also, eating causes facial expressions which are unprofessional.
- Don’t leave abruptly: If you must attend the meeting early, politely inform the host or other participants. Suddenly, leaving a meeting can be perceived as rude. It can disrupt the flow of discussion and leave others wondering about your sudden disappearance, potentially leading to confusion or misinterpretation.
- Don’t move your body frequently: In the context of a virtual meeting, your physical movements convey significant messages to other meeting participants. Frequent sideways head movements can suggest distraction, implying your focus is elsewhere. Behaviors such as scratching your head, touching your face, or repeatedly adjusting your position might indicate discomfort or restlessness to others.
- Don’t neglect your appearance: In a virtual setting, your appearance is often the first thing others notice, so you should dress appropriately as you would for an office meeting. Also, for a video conference, you should follow virtual meeting etiquette. It’s not just about looking good; it’s about demonstrating a professional attitude.
- Avoid cutting in: Wait for your turn to speak. Interrupting others can lead to confusion and disrupt the meeting’s flow. Also, cutting into someone’s speech can inadvertently convey a lack of respect for the speaker’s opinions. Meetings are more productive when everyone follows the principle of taking turns.
- Don’t type on your keyboard during the meeting: Using your keyboard during a virtual meeting is pretty typical, whether for note-taking or messaging. However, be mindful that the microphone often captures keyboard sounds and transmits them to everyone on the call, which can be distracting. One option is, of course, to mute yourself while typing. But that's not always possible. That's where AI note taking tools like Wudpecker come in: they eliminate this problem by recording the meeting and automatically generating intelligent notes.
Post-Meeting Etiquette and Follow-Up
After a meeting wraps up, it's important to summarize the key discussions and decisions made. Focus on highlighting the main topics, and clearly outline the next steps, including action items and assigned responsibilities. This helps to ensure everyone on the team is aligned and understands their role in achieving the set goals, making future follow-ups more efficient.
Make sure to integrate this summary into the meeting’s agenda or notes. It’s essential to share this information with your colleagues, ensuring it's used as a reference in future meetings. This practice fosters continuity and cohesion in your team’s efforts.
Our virtual meeting etiquette rules highlighted the essential elements of conducting successful remote conferences. We’ve delved into various strategies and best practices, emphasizing the significance of clear communication, effective use of technology, and the need for structured agendas.
By embracing these practices, we can maximize the effectiveness of our remote interactions, ensuring they are as impactful and productive as in-person meetings. Remember, the key to successful virtual meetings lies in how we use it to communicate and collaborate effectively.
Adhering to these norms is pivotal in upholding professionalism and ensuring productivity. These practices include punctuality, staying engaged, muting when not speaking, and respecting everyone’s time and input. Such etiquette fosters a respectful and efficient meeting environment, which is essential in the digital workspace.
Good luck with your next remote meeting!
What are the dos and don'ts of a virtual meeting?
- Be punctual: Join the meeting on time.
- Test your technology: Check your internet connection, camera, and microphone beforehand.
- Dress appropriately: Dress as you would for an in-person meeting, at least from the waist up.
- Choose a quiet location: Ensure you're in a distraction-free environment.
- Mute your microphone when not speaking: This prevents background noise from disrupting the meeting.
- Use non-verbal cues: Nodding and smiling can show you are engaged.
- Be prepared: Have all necessary documents and information ready.
- Stay focused: Avoid multitasking during the meeting.
- Don't be late: It's disrespectful to others' time.
- Don't interrupt others: Wait for your turn to speak.
- Don't eat or drink: It can be distracting and seem unprofessional.
- Don't forget to introduce yourself: Especially in meetings with new attendees.
- Don't have distracting backgrounds: Keep your background professional and neutral.
- Don't leave abruptly: Inform others if you need to leave early.
- Don't forget to follow up: Send meeting notes or action items post-meeting.
- Don't ignore meeting etiquette: Respect the meeting norms set by the host.
What are the ground rules for virtual meetings?
Ground rules for good virtual meeting etiquette include:
- Be Prepared: Come to the meeting with all necessary materials.
- Stay Muted Unless Speaking: To minimize background noise.
- One Person Speaks at a Time: Avoid talking over each other.
- Use Video When Possible: It fosters a more personal connection.
- Respect Time Limits: Stick to the allotted time for each agenda item.
- Use the Chat Function Responsibly: For relevant questions and comments.
- Avoid Distractions: Focus on the meeting, not on other tasks.
- Be Aware of Body Language: Non-verbal cues are still visible and important.
- End with Clear Action Items: Ensure everyone knows their post-meeting tasks.
- Provide Accessibility Options: Such as captions for those who might need them.