Monitor Manners: 6 Things to Know Before Jumping into an Online Meeting
Last week, a coworker who serves as an alumna advisor to her college Greek organization asked me for a list of video conferencing etiquette points to share with members for recruitment. After pulling together the tips, I thought I’d share it here on Bon Vivant, since most, if not all of us, have entered the video conference sphere during the pandemic. By now, you are likely at pro-level when it comes to online meetings. If so, consider this a refresher — it never hurts to brush up. If you never considered that there might be a set of etiquette guidelines for virtual meetings, conferences or even happy hours, or are new to the game, consider this your primer.
- Testing, Testing: Jump on a test Zoom, Skype, Google Meeting or whatever other video conferencing service you are using with a friend or family member to work out technology glitches a few days in advance.
- Set the Stage: Before the call, take a look around the room behind the setup area. Move anything you don’t want everyone on the call to see. This could be anything from discarded clothing and accessories to a pile of laundry or stacks of paper — any type of clutter. If it’s hopeless, consider a virtual background.
- Let there be light: If you are in a dark room, it’s hard for your fellow attendees to see you, your face and, most important, facial expressions. Sit near (preferably facing) a window for natural light, or place a table lamp in front of you, to shed light toward your face. Just don’t put it behind you. That actually makes it harder for other participants to see you.
- Silence is Golden: Mute yourself until it’s time to speak or until someone addresses you. Background noise is disruptive. (Think: Air conditioners, people talking, dogs barking, car alarms and cars and trucks driving by your home or building.) Also, be mindful not to talk over others during the call. Call hosts: Encourage use of the “raise your hand” button.
- Dress for Success (at least from the waist up): It can be tempting to dress all the way down, wearing your most comfortable loungewear or PJs, after all, you are at home. During business calls especially, but also volunteer and even social group meetings, it’s important to dress the part. At the very least, put on a “Zoom top” that is appropriate for the type of call in which you are taking part.
- Focus, focus, focus: Don’t eat, do private activities (for example picking your teeth, grooming and bathroom breaks) or any other task or action for that matter while you are on the call. This signals that you are not valuing the time of the people on the other end of your cyber connection. If you must attend to something, excuse yourself, black out the video and mute (if you aren’t already), tend to whatever needs tending, then come back to the meeting.
Do you have any tips to share? Pop them in the comments or email me at email@example.com.