Video chat tools like Zoom are now a familiar part of business operations. Remote workers and meetings will likely remain a component of the “new normal” for professional teams and personal lives.
Like many of you, we have used video chat more and more over the past months for both work and personal life. Before the coronavirus pandemic, Zoom shared some great video meeting etiquette tips. We have combined their advice with some things we’ve learned during this unusual time. The information here is just as applicable to Skype, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Facebook Messenger Rooms, or any other video chat tool you may use. Many of these tips can also be applied to in-person meetings
Before the meeting
- Learn (and test) the technology before the meeting. This is one of the most common mistakes we have seen. The time to familiarize yourself with how to host a meeting should be done well before the start of the meeting, not during.
- Clean up the invitation. A great meeting starts with a great invite. A standard Zoom invitation comes with extraneous information that looks cluttered and can leave a bad first impression. Instead, just include the basics:
- A description of the invitation. Something as simple as “Join Zoom Meeting” is perfect.
- URL to join by computer. Check the link to make sure it works.
- The words, “Meeting ID number.” Follow this with the actual meeting ID number.
- One number to join by phone Yes, Zoom gives you options to call from six locations. Pick one and stick with it.
- Only invite participants who need to be there. You can report the results of the meeting to the full team later.
- Update your image. Ditch the basic avatar that comes with your account and put your brand front and center. In your Zoom settings, update your profile photo with your company logo. That small step makes a big difference in your professional first impression.
During the meeting
- Be on time. Don’t be the person who everyone is waiting on, especially if you are hosting.
- Avoid eating, drinking and smoking. A mug of coffee or a bottle of water are OK. Just because you are at home does not mean you can eat a meal during a business meeting, unless the meeting has been designated as a “Brown Bag.”
- Start by introducing everyone. Just like a face-to-face meeting, this breaks the awkwardness when people meet for the first time.
- Pay attention and be respectful when someone is speaking.
- Have a clean, work-appropriate background. Even a blank wall is better than dirty dishes piled up in the sink. Also, check your room lighting to make sure you do not look like you’re sitting in the dark.
- Try to maintain eye contact. Imagine if news anchors looked away as they reported the headlines. The same thing happens with you when you look at your picture on the screen instead of at your camera.
- Turn off notifications for other apps. This especially goes for instant messaging apps like Slack. You can look at that funny meme after the meeting.
- Use the mute setting appropriately. Microphones designed to pick up your voice from a distance amplify the sound of typing on a keyboard. It may not sound loud to you, however for everyone else on the chat it is like a drumbeat. Turn on mute unless you are speaking.
- Be an active listener. However, It’s a good idea to leave yourself unmuted in a smaller group chat to give verbal feedback (like “mmm hmm” and “OK”) to show active listening. In larger meetings, try speaking more slowly to avoid unintended interruptions, and give people time to interject if needed.
After the meeting
Here’s how to end your virtual meeting the right way:
- Share a summary of the meeting. This is especially important when decisions are made during the meeting.
- Review specifically walk-aways/action-items per attendee: So people know when they are accountable for completing a task.
- If you’re the host, be the last to leave. Make sure everyone’s questions or comments are addressed before you sign off.
Meetings make a difference
Meetings are where ideas are shared and decisions are made. Many meetings now can be remote. No matter how the meeting is conducted, manners and courtesy always apply.
Certainly, you may have other examples of what works and what does not. We do not pretend this is a complete list of “dos and don’ts”, just observations on our part. We hope they are helpful.
Think we missed something from your own experience with remote meetings? Let us know your recommendations and stories!