businesswoman with headset speaking to remote team on virtual conference call in home office

No Shoes, Ok, but No Shirt and We Have a Virtual Meeting Problem. The Thinc Guide to Virtual Meeting Etiquette

Okay folks. We’ve been at this videoconferencing for at least a month now. We thought by this point everyone would adopt some basic rules of etiquette, but seeing as how in the past week we’ve been on calls where a participant cleaned their desk and surrounding area during the call (leaving their webcam and microphone on) and another participant showed up in a cutoff top (no lie), we thought we’d compile some of the best videoconference guidelines we’ve read and experienced.

Virtual meetings can be very efficient allowing everyone in the meeting to focus on each other and any shared documents. They will continue to be an integral part of how business gets done after stay-at-home restrictions are lifted. At Thinc Strategy, we believe the best approach is to treat them as you would other in-person professional interactions with a few modifications for the remote environment:

Starting Out Strong

  • Start on time. If you’re the meeting host, that means having the meeting room ready a minute or two early.
  • Be aware of your surroundings – visual and audio. Don’t make your environment a distraction to others.
  • Dress for the meeting. For now, it may be casual Friday office attire. As work returns to office environments, at least business casual. It is never what you wear to the pool.
  • Greet the folks in the virtual room. A smile and a hello set a positive tone.

Improving Meeting Productivity

  • Have an agenda or at the very minimum a clear purpose and desired outcome for every virtual meeting.
  • Schedule breaks in the agenda for meetings that are going beyond one hour
  • Do not use cell phones or read emails as the meeting is in progress
  • In large group meetings, mute yourself unless you are speaking. Of course, you have to remember to unmute yourself when you start to speak.
  • And for the love of everything that is good in this world, if you log into the meeting on your laptop and your mobile phone, mute one of the devices so that you don’t create an echo.

Communicating Effectively

  • Rehearse your presentations or have your key points prepared in advance. On-camera (even a webcam) is not a time to wing it.
  • Make space for everyone to participate. If you’re a talker (and like me, you know who you are) pause and leave some silent space so others can contribute.If you are not a talker (you know who you are too) come prepared to contribute.
  • When you’re presenting to a group, focus on your webcam or the top of your screen as opposed to looking down or around. Create virtual eye contact to build an emotional connection.

Finishing Strong

  • Close with a recap, action items and responsibilities. Ask for commitments from participants and schedule the next videoconference.
  • Finish 5-10 minutes early to allow participants a break before their next meeting or call. You will become everyone’s favorite virtual meeting facilitator.