Oh, the joys of video conferencing. Everyone is doing it, but even two years after the start of the COVID crisis, few are probably following all of the written and unwritten teleconference etiquette rules that get so many people in trouble. It’s easy to relax your guard in these meetings when you’re working from home. There is a certain casualness that comes from working at your kitchen table all day. However, if you make a mistake and mess up on the etiquette for your online video meeting, you may just find yourself on a YouTube video of the biggest video conferencing fails of the year.

Here are some of the video conferencing etiquette rules that we’ve learned to follow the hard way — by seeing someone else foul them up.

Today’s Top Teleconference Etiquette Rules

1. Don’t Stand Up if You’re in Your Underwear

We make jokes about being in our pajamas from the waist down on teleconferencing calls or wearing bunny slippers to meetings. Online video etiquette seems to be okay with professional attire from the camera view to the screen cut off. But as one company found out, it’s an important video etiquette rule that you should never stand up in front of your coworkers if you’re not wearing pants during the call. This happened at least once — and we suspect quite a bit more. Here’s the video proof.

2. Don’t Forget to Take Off the Cat Filter

Here’s proof that lawyers lack video meeting etiquette — or at least technology savviness. Granted, in early 2021, many of us were still getting used to video conferencing as a tool for business. But one lawyer in west Texas had a little trouble with his cat filter and ended up going into a court date with a distinctly furry presence online. How do we know? It made the news, of course. Here’s video conference call etiquette we should all heed — learn to use the software before you have a hearing with the judge. Watch the video.

3. Allow Your Dog or Cat or Child Some Screen Time

How many times has your cat screamed, “Hold me!” during your video conference calls over the past two years? Really, as far as video conferencing etiquette goes, we could all use a wagging tail or a purr or two to lower our stress. But did you see the BBC News reporter whose children busted in on a very important story about global politics? Poor Mom quickly followed and dragged the kids from the room. We say, let the children pop in, let the cats show their butts; it’s a welcome break from the boring meeting you were on. Watch the video.

4. What’s Behind You?

Video etiquette 101 virtually screams in all capital letters: Please do not leave your dirty underwear in a laundry basket behind you. Take down any inappropriate pictures, please. Maybe neaten your home office before you jump on a call. Ask your boyfriend to put on pants before your meeting (what is it with men not wearing pants on virtual meetings?). Even better, just use a background filter to hide the mess that is your life. Because truly, no one wants to see that.

Failing to follow video conferencing etiquette can make you feel like this.
Failing to follow video conferencing etiquette can make you feel like this.

5. Please Don’t Go to the Restroom During Your Video Meeting.

A critical teleconference etiquette rule is: Keep your mute on and your video off if you have to go during a long meeting. We know it happens because, unfortunately, we’ve seen it. A general rule of thumb is to have a “bio break” before the meeting. But working remotely and video conferencing daily has made us all aware that life happens. Just try not to let it happen in front of your work family.

6. Speaking of Mute…

Have you ever made a snide comment to your spouse about your boss when you’re on a video chat? Of course, you have. But the next time you yell to your husband in the kitchen, “My boss just loves the sound of his own voice,” please make sure your mute is on.

7. Try to Keep Background Noises Down.

We know that online video etiquette demands that you have a professional space to participate in meetings. However, not everyone has a spare office just waiting around for the new remote work trend. This means that when the kids come home there may be yelling or TV noise or other ambient sounds that you simply can’t control. We all love it when a construction worker is using a jackhammer on the street outside your apartment or house, right? Try to just roll with it as much as you can and do your best.

8. Dress Appropriately.

We covered the unwritten video etiquette rule about pants. Just wear them, okay? But it’s also a good idea to perhaps iron that vintage 1980s t-shirt before your next meeting. We’ve seen some interesting outfits during work-from-home. It’s possible that hygiene has declined slightly when we don’t really have to shower every day if we never leave our home. However, Bill Belichick illustrates what not to wear at your next video meeting. Please don’t be Bill Belichick.

9. Kill Your IM Before the Meeting — Especially if You’re Screen Sharing.

Screen sharing is a terrific feature on video conferences. However, etiquette demands that you turn off those chat bubbles where you were complaining about your boss to your coworker before you share your screen. Awkward. Turn off email too, or snarky reminders that tell you to change your underwear. The good news is that if you forget this little bit of important video conferencing etiquette, there are lots of jobs out there just waiting for your application.

10. Use a Better Class of Video Conferencing Provider.

If your video calls are often dropped, you experience screen freeze, or your feed looks like a 1960s TV with rabbit ears, it could be your internet connection. Or, it could be that you’re using a video conferencing provider who is anything less than MegaMeeting. MegaMeeting is a leading video conferencing solution that connects people in virtual meetings that, hopefully, follow all the video meeting etiquette rules we’ve outlined. If you’re looking for a better video conferencing solution, consider the MegaMeeting 14-day free trial.