By Bond Collective Staff
If Miss Manners were here, she would be appalled at some of the virtual meeting etiquette that runs rampant on video chat and meeting software these days. Slovenly appearance. Messy background. Video and audio distractions. And other faux pas too numerous to mention.
Don’t be that person who ruins the meeting for everyone else. Exercise virtual meeting etiquette at all times.
In this article, we offer tips to help you display the most professional image possible — whether you’re the host or an attendee — so everyone gets the most out of the virtual meeting.
Virtual Meeting Etiquette
1) Behave As You Would In Person
If you were in an in-person meeting, you wouldn’t take a phone call or eat a plate of fajitas while the presenter was talking. You wouldn’t show up without pants or in workout gear, and you wouldn’t bring your pets or your kids.
The gold standard of virtual meeting etiquette is to behave as though you were in an in-person meeting with potential investors or the CEO of your company.
There are several virtual meeting etiquette tips on this list, but if you reread the previous sentence, put yourself in that frame of mind, and then act on it, we’re sure you can come up with more.
2) Keep Track Of Your Mute Status
This one should be obvious, but even as virtual meetings become the order of the day, muting and unmuting at the proper time is still a problem.
If you’re not talking, commenting, or presenting, keep your microphone muted. If it’s your turn to talk, be sure to unmute your microphone first. When you’re finished speaking, mute your microphone again so you don’t cause a distraction for the next person who speaks.
3) Turn Your Video Off If You Need To Get Up
Emergencies do occur — it’s inevitable — and you will have to get up and excuse yourself for a moment from time to time (an unexpected bathroom break immediately comes to mind).
In those cases, virtual meeting etiquette all but demands turning off your video before you get up to deal with the situation.
Then, when you return to the meeting (but before you turn your video on again) be sure that you’re settled back in front of the camera as you were before you left.
Leaving and returning to the meeting this way is much less distracting to the other participants and provides a more seamless transition than walking out of the frame and back into it again with your camera still running.
4) Minimize Distractions
As we mentioned above, unexpected events do occur — there’s no getting around it. But you don’t have to let those interruptions disrupt the meeting.
Exercise the best virtual meeting etiquette by minimizing on-camera and on-microphone distractions whenever possible. Inform people living with you that you’re not to be disturbed during the meeting unless it’s an emergency.
Keep pets and pet noise away from your computer at all times (nothing — and we mean nothing — pulls people’s attention away from the speaker faster than a cute kitty or puppy sticking their head onscreen or walking across the back of the couch).
5) Keep Your Background Clean And Professional
Another useful piece of virtual meeting etiquette that we should all abide by is to keep whatever is behind us clean, clear, and professional.
That means not setting up in a coffee shop with customers coming and going behind you. That means pointing your camera toward a clean, well-decorated (or blank) wall whenever possible.
Yes, a blank wall isn’t always available and your camera will catch other furniture, a closet, a door to another room, and even the floor. In that case, turn your camera on early and take the time to inspect your surroundings to see what everyone else will see.
Close closet doors and doors to other rooms, make your bed (if it’s in the frame), straighten up bookcases, and, by all means, avoid piles of clothes, boxes, and other messes on the floor and flat surfaces where the camera will catch them.
Even if the rest of the room is a complete disaster, clean the area that your camera will see so that your background looks as professional as possible.
6) Dress And Groom Appropriately
When working from home, it’s very easy to roll out of bed five minutes before the meeting, throw on a shirt, finger-comb your hair, and sit down in front of your computer or mobile device.
Avoid this temptation whenever possible because it is definitely not a part of good virtual meeting etiquette. Dress and groom as though you were meeting the CEO of your company or investors who just might fund your operation for the next year.
It doesn’t matter if you’re the host or an attendee, good dress and grooming do matter.
For most people, that will mean wearing clean business clothes — or business casual if that’s your company culture — and styling your hair as if you were reporting to work.
7) Master Virtual Meeting Etiquette With A Good Microphone
Working from home and virtual meetings are here to stay (at least for a while). Do yourself and your distributed team a favor and purchase a good microphone for your phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer.
Built-in microphones — be they on laptops, mobile devices, or external webcams — are not of the best quality. Plus, with those options, you’re usually sitting quite a ways away from the mic itself.
Under those circumstances, the microphone may cut out while you’re talking or be just plain hard for other attendees to hear. That said, you don’t have to purchase a studio-quality microphone or the most expensive model.
Even a twenty-dollar desktop or headset mic that plugs into your computer’s headphone jack is leaps and bounds better than the built-in mics that devices come with these days.
8) Silence Phones And Other Noises
Another valuable piece of etiquette advice is to silence phones and other noises that could occur and distract from the proceedings.
You might not think about these noises during your normal day of working at home, but, should they occur while your microphone is on, they can cause others in the meeting to lose focus and forget what you or the speaker said.
Make it a point to silence such things as your:
When working in common areas of the house or apartment, you may even need to be aware of noise from the dishwasher, washing machine, and doorbell.
It’s not always possible to eliminate all noises, but do your best for the sake of the other attendees in the virtual meeting.
9) Learn The Software Controls
You don’t have to be an expert, but take this virtual meeting etiquette tip to heart and get comfortable with the more common controls of the meeting software.
If keyboard shortcuts are available, those are usually quicker and easier than using the mouse or trackpad, but as long as you know how to do the basic things necessary to participate in a virtual meeting, you’ll be fine.
Those basics include being able to:
Join the meeting
Change your screen name (if allowed)
Mute/unmute your mic
Turn your video on and off
Raise your hand
Leave the meeting
If you’re hosting the virtual meeting, you’ll also need to know how to perform tasks such as sharing your screen and your computer sound (for videos), admitting participants to the meeting, removing participants, setting up breakout rooms, lowering all hands, and muting all mics.
Perfect Your Virtual Meeting Etiquette At Bond Collective
The best way to perfect your virtual meeting etiquette and convey a professional image at all times is with help from Bond Collective. At Bond Collective, we provide flexible office space to fit any size team, from one to 100 or more.
Whether you’re a digital nomad, a solopreneur, an entrepreneur running a startup, a small business, or a large corporation, we’ve got the workspace that’s perfect for you. You bring your laptop and we’ll do the rest.
And because all our spaces are designed and decorated with an eye to making your business look good, you can rest easy that you’ll convey a professional image whether you’re running a virtual interview, a face-to-face interview, or a virtual meeting with investors.
We can’t help you remember to unmute your mic before talking or dress your best and comb your hair, but we can make everything behind you look like a million bucks.
That’s a big part of perfecting your virtual meeting etiquette.
Visit any one of Bond Collective’s many locations in the United States, including workspaces in New York, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Illinois, Tennessee, and Texas. Or call us today to find out more about everything we have to offer.
And while you’re at it, schedule a tour to experience first-hand how the boutique coworking environments at Bond Collective can benefit your business.