If you are working from home, chances are that virtual meetings have become a regular part of your week. There is no denying that virtual meetings are an invaluable tool for connecting with everyone from prospects and clients to colleagues and remote team members at a time when Covid restrictions prevent us from gathering in a physical location.
With the click of a button, you can feel as if you are in the same room as participants from all over the world, without having to leave the comfort of your home office. However, there are a few key differences between face-to-face meetings and their virtual counterparts. With online business meetings increasingly becoming the norm, it is important to be aware of the specific etiquette rules that apply.
Whether you are the organiser of the virtual meeting or an invited participant, being prepared will make the meeting more productive and less stressful for everyone involved. To avoid committing an unintentional faux pas in your next online meeting keep the following virtual meeting etiquette tips in mind.
1. Be punctual
Keeping people waiting is as rude in the virtual world as it is in the real one! Allow time for technical glitches and don’t log on to a meeting with only 30 seconds to spare.
If latecomers join the meeting, there is no need to disrupt the meeting by going back over everything that you have covered. Instead, offer to set up a call with them to bring them up to speed on anything they have missed.
2. Stick to the time frames
Keep an eye on the clock and make sure that you not only start, but also finish on time. If you have underestimated the amount of time needed, it is better to schedule another meeting to discuss the
outstanding items rather than mess up everyone’s schedule. Having an agenda for the meeting, and sending it out in advance, will help keep things on track and ensure all participants know what to expect.
3. Mind your body language.
Non-verbal communication is an important part of virtual meeting etiquette and gives the other participants insights into your mood, thoughts and emotions. Adopt a good seated posture by placing your feet flat on the floor and not leaning on the desk or back in the chair. Try not to fidget, look into the camera when you speak and don’t forget to smile!
4. Minimise distractions
To reduce potential distractions, make sure that you are in a quiet spot where you are unlikely to be disturbed by flatmates or other family members. Turn off your phone and avoid rustling papers or eating noisy food (in fact eating should be avoided altogether!). It is also advisable to keep your microphone on mute when you are not speaking to minimise background noise.
5. Be ‘screen-ready’
Working from home doesn’t mean you should neglect your professional appearance. Think carefully about the impression you want to make on the other people in the meeting. Simply rolling out of bed and switching on the computer is not going to show anyone at their best.
A good rule of thumb is to dress the way you would as if you were meeting in person. At the very least, put on a clean shirt, brush your hair and ensure your background is work appropriate.
Your camera should be positioned at eye level and check your lighting to make sure it doesn’t shade or block your face.
6. Don’t multitask
It can be tempting to read and send emails or check your social media while other people are talking but try to focus fully on the meeting. It is more productive in the long run, not to mention more respectful to the other attendees.
When it comes to virtual meeting etiquette, the key point to remember is that you should not disregard your manners just because you are not physically present at the meeting. Wether you are meeting online or offline, the Golden Rule still applies: “Treat others as you wish to be treated yourself”.