Do online video conference calls drive you crazy? From late arrivals, awkward silences, and dropped calls to background noise, all this attempted collaboration can make a person want to never work remotely again.

Like toilet paper in the grocery store, online meeting etiquette may be in short supply these days, as many teams make the transition to full-on remote work during the coronavirus crisis. This can be especially true if you’re not accustomed to using video conferencing services. It’s so weird to look at yourself while you try to make eye contact with a coworker through a screen. How are you supposed to act when you’re on camera? #Awkward.

In this article, we will answer all your questions about the dos and don'ts of online meeting etiquette, such as:

·         Does video conferencing etiquette really allow you to wear your pajamas?

·         Will people notice if you haven’t brushed your teeth in three days?

·         What kinds of conversations shouldn’t you have on an online video conference call? (Really.)

Here’s what you need to know.

This man is following online meeting etiquette: Using headphones in a quiet, professional setting.
This man is following online meeting etiquette: Using headphones in a quiet, professional setting.

Video Conferencing Etiquette — What Not to Do

Have you heard the one about the coworker that forgot to put their speaker on mute? That’s a big no-no in the video conferencing etiquette rulebook. Sure, you can wear your PJ pants to a video conference (as long as you don’t stand up during the meeting), but you should never forget to mute after you speak and then unmute before you speak again.

Although it’s kind of endearing, we don’t want to hear your dogs barking when that Amazon toilet paper delivery arrives.

Some other big no-no's include:

·         Comb your hair before a video call. We’re serious. If you’re like a lot of work-from-home teams, you may just roll out of bed and get straight to work. Suddenly it’s 11 am, you’re on an online video conference call and realize you haven’t looked at yourself in the mirror all day. It happens, but you don’t want the video camera to detect your bed-head. Hygiene is still important.

·         Don’t position your camera at a weird angle so that the only thing your video camera sees is your Adam’s apple. Seriously. Try to position your computer so to avoid strange camera angles. Also, pay attention to what viewers can see behind you. A bookshelf is great, but if you have a bunch of titles similar to “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*CK,” that may not play well on your next job evaluation. Also, discard any titles about anarchy or medieval spear making — just in case.

·         Stop eating during online video conference calls. We’ve all done it. But what if you forget to mute because you’re really into that new bag of Snyder’s Jalapeno potato chips, along with a delicious sparkling Coke Zero? It’s just bad form – first, because you’re probably getting crumbs all over your laptop, and second, because all the carbonation in Coke Zero could cause burping that could shake the house — but not impress your coworkers.

While these tongue-in-cheek rules have an element of truth, what are some best practices that you should apply to meet the standards for etiquette in video conferencing?

This woman is not following proper video conferencing etiquette. We can hear you slurp your coffee.
This woman is not following proper video conferencing etiquette. We can hear you slurp your coffee.

Online Meeting Etiquette — Follow These Rules

The first rule is a technical one, namely, it’s better to avoid a wireless connection, if possible, when hosting a meeting over a video conference. Hardwiring your Internet connection via an ethernet cable will help you avoid network hiccups that make you look bad on the conference call.

The issue with wireless is that any device using the same frequency could disrupt your signal. If you’re attending the meeting and not leading it, using Wi-Fi is fine. But the meeting leader should be a consistent point of contact to keep things professional.

Speaking of staying professional, whether you are the host or attendee, plan ahead for the meeting by testing your video or audio quality beforehand. Most video conference services give you the ability to test your speakers and the camera; use these tools to make sure everything works properly. Or, if you’re a presenter or the host, try video conferencing with a friend or colleague first to practice. Make sure you check the lighting and the camera angle and turn on some lights in your office or open the curtains.

Try to stay focused during the call. It will be tempting to check your email or look down at your cell phone at the text from your coworker who is busy making fun of the speaker. Don’t do it! Turn off Slack. Don’t answer emails. Don’t answer texts, even when it’s a super funny meme from “The Office.” Otherwise, you might be that kid in class who is shocked out of their trance when the teacher calls on them.

One of the techniques you may need to practice as a way to comply with etiquette in video conferencing is to look at the camera lens when you’re talking. Don’t look at the video image of yourself talking as you’re talking.  We know that people are into selfies, but stop looking at yourself on camera and pay attention to the meeting.

Here are five more tips for online meeting etiquette to follow:

1.      The meeting organizer should allow a round Robin roll call at the beginning of every meeting. If your team is dispersed around the city, country or even world, you can break the ice by asking them to tell others what location they're in and what they see outside the nearest window.

2.      When you speak during the meeting, introduce yourself again, like, “Hey, this is Robin from Columbus…” for example. This may not be necessary with teams that know each other well, but at first, it can be a vital tool – people’s voices can sound different over the internet!

3.      The meeting organizers can engage the virtual room by using some of the same techniques for in-person meetings. For example, they can keep a running tally of who is in the meeting and who has participated. If you’re not getting responses from various team members, you can invite them to participate, “Tom, I don’t think we’ve heard from you yet. What are your thoughts?”

4.      Be aware of ambient noises such as paper rustling or keyboard tapping. Always mute the microphone when you’re not talking (and certainly do not flush if you don’t have your mute on!)

5.      Use your inside voice for these calls.It’s going to feel like you need to shout, but truly, you don’t. Speak at a normal tone, but if you are a super fast talker, you could slow down the cadence of your speech just a little.

Having etiquette in video conferencing amid the coronavirus is going to take some practice. If your team is looking for the right online meeting resource, MegaMeeting offers state-of-the-art quality tools at an affordable price point. Call us at +1.818.783.4311 or contact us today to find out more. Want to try out our video conferencing solution? Just click here and you will be able to immediately start a free browser-based meeting, with nothing to download or install!

(Just please follow these guidelines. Please.)

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