November 30, 2022

Rules of Virtual Meeting Etiquette – What Every Professional Should Know

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In this day and age, there are very few industries that have not been affected by the plight of the pandemic. Virtual meetings are fast becoming the norm. People rely less on face-to-face interactions to get work done in this increasingly digital age. Virtual meeting etiquette is an entirely new ball game compared with in-person meetings, and many people are learning the hard way.

So, what are the norms for virtual meetings? What are the standards? What are the ground rules for virtual meetings? Are there even virtual norms? Who the heck is Norm anyway!

Those of us who have been doing it for a while know better than to be rude and interrupting—or even worse, to ignore our co-workers entirely!

CMBC reported that almost 70% of people work remotely at least once every week. The odds of your meeting with someone working remotely today are way higher than they’ve ever been. Learning basic online manners is vital for the average person and even more so if you’re a remote worker. So we put together some tips for online meeting etiquette:

We Are All Adults. Why Do We Need Virtual Meeting Etiquette?

Virtual meetings present a unique set of challenges. Setting ground rules for virtual meetings is important. Online meetings can introduce problematic employees and bring out conflicts in opinions between colleagues and staff. There are also technical issues and obstacles that can arise. As the team leader and organizer, you have to think long and hard about what you want each meeting’s outcome to be for them to be successful.

Establishing virtual meeting etiquette guidelines and ground rules for virtual meetings is the key to productive, engaged, and professional meetings. Keep in mind that online meeting etiquette is just as important as in-person etiquette, so having meeting etiquette tips is essential for everyone involved. For a virtual meeting to have the best possible outcome, you need an understanding of how it works and what’s expected from you – which is where this article comes in handy!

General Virtual Meeting Etiquette Tips for both Organizers and Attendees:

The perfect meeting etiquette can be tough to nail down, just as in any other social situation. Whether you are an organizer or attendee, you need to be prepared. Here are some general preparation tips for everyone involved:

“Quiet Please We Are on the Air” 

Having noisy pets, family members, or other distractions in the background can distract others who are attending the event. Choose a nice quiet area in your home or office that is free from distractions so you can get the most out of your time. Think of it as if you were on a TV or Radio set! Background noise is not an option. Virtual etiquette is essential.

Have a Pleasant Background 

There is nothing like being on camera and having dirty laundry or a messy area in the background; no one wants to see that! Use a nice neutral background that is pleasing to the eye. Hang a sheet or curtain if you have to. Fold your laundry on your own time!

Check Your Lighting

Make sure the area you are in has enough lighting. You don’t want the area to be too dark, and bright light can be very distracting.

Use Your Computer Instead of a Phone 

Using your computer is much more stable than attending a meeting on your phone. In fact, many conferencing tools are built for desktops only. It is always best to have your hands free, so you can take notes if needed.

Testing Testing 1, 2, 3 

Be sure to test your connection and equipment before the meeting starts. It is best to do a trial run ahead of time, so you don’t end up being late, or worse yet, missing your meeting! Oh No!

Virtual Meeting Etiquette for Organizers 

Establishing etiquette for online meetings is an essential role for meeting Hosts. Planning and holding a successful meeting can be a breeze if you set ground rules for virtual meetings for your attendees. Having a plan in place will help both you and your attendees set the norms for virtual meetings.

Before the Meeting:

Preparation is the Key!

Letting your attendees know what the meeting will be about will help them prepare for any questions or concerns on their end. Layout an agenda that clearly identifies the purpose of the meeting and the key objectives. You also want to include what will happen at the meeting and what you expect to accomplish. You could send them a detailed email or you could keep it short and send them a quick message on team chat.

Assign meeting responsibilities 

Assigning tasks and delegating some of the responsibilities to others when sending out information for your meeting will help take some tasks off your plate so you can do other things. Depending on the agenda, why not have your assistant, another manager or employee take on some of the responsibilities to lighten your load?

“If you really want to grow as an entrepreneur, you’ve got to learn to delegate.”

– Richard Branson, British entrepreneur

Note to self:

* Don’t forget to include the meeting time, date, location, login information, and other info that will make it as seamless as possible for your attendees. You don’t want to have distractions and be embarrassed during your meeting because you forgot to prepare correctly. Be the professional that your attendees expect you to be!

During the Meeting:

Start with a soundcheck

It is always advisable to make sure your audio and video (showing your screen) are working properly before the meeting starts.

Begin the call with introductions

Introductions can make people feel like they are a part of the meeting and they are correctly connected. But if you are going to have 25+ attendees then avoid introductions and use a virtual ice breaker instead.

Let everyone know what is expected and that you value their time. Getting this out of the way at the beginning will let your attendees know that you are here to go over the business but value their time.

Briefly go over the agenda and plan

A quick read of the outline of the agenda is a great way to start the meeting.

Encourage participation. (Can ask to hold questions to the end)

Encouraging participation shows attendees their input is valuable. Holding questions to the end is advisable if you don’t want interruptions.

Make the meeting fun yet productive

Don’t be a dull drum. Most likely, no one really wants to be there, make it fun, maybe they will look forward to the next “fun” meeting!

Speak clearly and stay on point

Make sure your audience can hear you clearly. You don’t want your audience to wonder what the heck you are saying and want the replay to be of good quality.

Keep everyone engaged by including them

If you want to keep your audience engaged, call on people or ask for them to speak up on certain topics.

Be respectful and never single anyone out negatively

Never single out an employee or other member, it is embarrassing for everyone involved. Keep your meeting upbeat and positive.

Time allocation for each point

Don’t drag on each topic; allocate a certain amount of time for each subject so you can move onto the next and get through your agenda.

Pause and ask for audience questions

Pausing to ask for questions is a good idea if you want feedback. If you are pressed for time, you might want to ask your audience to hold questions until the end.

Summarize the meeting

At the end of your meeting, summarize the meeting. It might spark questions that someone might have forgotten to ask.

Ask for questions at the end

Now is the time to ask for questions if you chose to have attendees hold questions to the end. It is also a great time to ask for any last questions if you took questions during the meeting.

Let your audience know what to expect next

Instead of abruptly ending the meeting, let your audience know what to expect. Now is a great time for other announcements or to introduce or plan the next meeting or event.

Follow-Up After the Meeting:

Send thank-you notes

Send out personalized thank you notes via email. It shows you appreciate them showing up at your meeting and that you care.

Send a follow-up survey

It is always advisable to get feedback from your audience to see what you might need to adjust for future events.

Ask for ideas on your next topic

Asking for new ideas not only shows what your audience has in mind but might spark some new ideas you haven’t thought of.

Virtual Meeting Etiquette for Attendees:

Before the Meeting:

Read through the agenda and “Do Your Homework”

It is always a good idea to read the agenda ahead of time, so you know the purpose of the meeting. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Set aside the required amount of time

Ensure that you mark the meeting time as “busy” so you are not in a rush or book something else during the meeting especially when you are attending an interview call or a virtual job fair.

Let your housemates know you are in a meeting and not to disturb you

Letting others around you know that you are going to be in a meeting is essential. You don’t want the kids walking in or the dogs barking in the background during your online meeting. How embarrassing!

Dress appropriately

We all know that working from home in sweat pants is comfy, but it is advisable to put on some nice clothes for your meeting. After all, if you were in the office, you would be dressed like a professional.

Jot down any questions (before, during, and after the meeting)

Jotting down questions is a great way to make sure you get your questions on paper, so you don’t forget to ask. We all have had moments where we wish we remembered that darn question we wanted to ask. Remember when you were a student and took all of those notes? Just write it down!

During the Meeting:

Log in early, or at least make sure you are on time

Logging in early is advisable. If you can’t log in early, at least make sure you are on time.

Come prepared with the agenda in front of you

Having the agenda in front of you is a good idea to follow along to understand what is going on.

Don’t interrupt or talk over people

Crosstalk or interrupting the speaker is not only disruptive but rude. Make sure to wait your turn to speak.

Mute your microphone when you’re not talking

Always mute your microphone when in a meeting. How many times have we been in a meeting and heard someone typing away, coughing, or having horrible background noise? Make sure you aren’t “that” person. When in doubt, mute!

Don’t mess around with the keyboard

Messing around with the keyboard is not only distracting, but you might boot yourself out of the meeting. Hands off!

Minimize your movements – stay seated and stay present

Moving around too much can cause distraction on camera or off. Try to stay still and be present.

Pay attention

It is always a good idea to pay attention. You never know when someone might mention your name or call on you for something.

Turn off your phone and notifications

Turn off your phone and any noisy beeps or pings that might go off. Even if you are muted, it is a distraction to you.

Don’t eat during the meeting

You should not eat when at the meeting, especially if on camera! If not on camera, you don’t want to be caught with a mouthful if someone calls on you either. Of course, if it is a breakfast, lunch, or dinner meeting, it is fine as long as everyone else is eating too!

Resist the urge to do other work

Since you are sitting at your computer, it is hard to resist typing, checking messages, or doing other work. We all have important jobs but try to keep your focus on the meeting; you might miss something important.

Never vent during a meeting!

Don’t be negative or vent during a meeting! Negativity can bring everyone else down and might not be a good move for your career—good meeting etiquette to remember.

Ask or answer questions at the appropriate time

If you were allowed to ask questions during the meeting, you might have already asked your questions. If not, you might have a list of questions to ask at the end. Get your questions answered!

After the Meeting:

Stick around afterward

We all know that sometimes the good stuff happens at the meeting after the meeting. Sometimes people share better when the recording is off. Stick around; you might hear more than you think, both good and bad.

Provide feedback and suggestions when asked (or when needed)

Hopefully, your organizer will send a follow-up survey to ask for feedback. If you did not receive a survey and give feedback, send a personal email to your team lead or the meeting host to offer feedback. (like to send a survey next time)

Wrapping It Up:

As the number of remote workers skyrockets, more and more businesses are transitioning to this work culture. Employees have been given increased flexibility in their day to day routines – saving them time and money spent on real estate and other employee-related expenses. There is one downside – a loss in interpersonal communication skills due to a lack of face time with colleagues. This can occur when working from home all the time!

Luckily for you, there’s an easy fix. Following virtual meeting etiquette tips will ensure productive meetings, keeping your mind stimulated during those precious few hours per week or month shifted over into ‘meeting mode’. We hope you found our virtual meeting etiquette tips helpful and wish you much success establishing new norms for virtual meetings.