Virtual Etiquette for Meetings & Trainings | Etiquette 101
The remote business model is here to stay. 2020 has proven that companies can save money, connect employees and offices around the globe, and operate effectively when they access the right tools to keep their teams connected. Consider these statistics from Flexjobs:
- As of 2019, more than 26 million Americans work remotely, at least part of the time.
- Between 2005 and 2015 remote work increased 115%.
In order to be successful, businesses must maintain continuity, productivity, and employee and client engagement while operating remotely. CEOs agree that virtual meetings are essential in accomplishing these goals and according to Finances Online, 75% of them predict that video conferencing will entirely replace the conference call in the near future.
Considering that virtual meetings are becoming an everyday occurrence and inadequate practices that decrease productivity are costing companies an estimated $34 billion annually, giving some thought to the rules of virtual meeting engagement is a timely idea. Even if your business has been conducting virtual meetings for years, it is beneficial to check in periodically to see how 'dialed-in' attendees are during those meetings. When we connect with co-workers, clients, or vendors remotely, different considerations for etiquette come into play.
To ensure your meetings are as engaging, productive, and professional as possible, use these simple tips in you next virtual meeting.
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Working from home comes with so many benefits and dressing casually is one of them. However, when it comes time for a virtual meeting, appropriate dress is required. Spending just a few minutes on your appearance before starting the day will help you maintain a more productive headspace—and you’ll be ready to flip on the camera if someone wants to schedule an impromptu video chat.
Prepare Your Surroundings in Advance
Most of us don’t need to be told to straighten up. Or do we? The main message here is, test what others will see. Turn on your computer’s camera and take a look at yourself and your surroundings.
- Are there too many distractions behind you? A clear wall or one with simple décor is best.
- Is the lighting right? Sit facing a window or find somewhere where you have access to plenty of light.
By checking all of these items out in advance, you (and other meeting attendees) will be able to concentrate on the meeting, instead of your background.
Similarly, ensure that there is no distracting background noise. If your children are at home, let them know that you are not to be disturbed during your meeting. Consider putting noisy pets in another room while you're on your video call as well.
Avoid Typing Distraction
Typing on your computer keyboard during a virtual meeting can be distracting for others on the call. The internal microphone in your laptop is just inches away from the keyboard. If you must take notes during a meeting, grab a quality headset that will move the microphone away from the computer. If you don’t have a headset, consider taking notes the old fashioned way—with pen and paper. You can always mute your audio while others are talking, if you must take notes on the computer.
Come to the virtual meeting prepared in the same way you would arrive at an in-person meeting. Aim to sit at your desk a few minutes in advance and open up any materials that were sent in advance to familiarize yourself with them.
Consider the Camera Angle
Always be ready to turn on your camera—even if the meeting invite did not specify video conferencing. Aim to sit at your desk a few minutes before the meeting and open up any materials that were sent in advance to familiarize yourself with them.
Position your camera so that it is at eye level and in a spot that allows you to look directly into it when speaking. Avoid the temptation to look at yourself or other people on screen, rather than the webcam. Although it does not feel natural, looking at the camera will increase eye contact and can improve engagement among other participants.
Remember everyone can see your non-verbal cues, so when others are speaking, act accordingly.
When it comes to speaking during a video call. Here are some handy pointers:
- Announce yourself and greet others upon entering a small meeting.
- Speak up. Don’t be afraid to project your voice. Call participants would rather hear a voice that’s too loud than struggle to hear you.
- Allow a longer pause than usual after asking a question.
- Practice extra patience and avoid interrupting others.
- Mute your microphone when you are not speaking to avoid unwanted ambient noise to seep through.
- Aim for 100% focus. Although it is easy to multi-task during a virtual meeting, don’t do it. You are likely to miss out on an opportunity to contribute to the conversation or miss critical information.
Tips for Hosting a Video Meeting
Beginning and ending a meeting on time is important and demonstrates respect for others time. To stay on schedule, distribute an agenda in advance. Set the pace by including time limits for each topic. Attendees will appreciate knowing what to expect and can then help you stay on target.
Begin your meeting with an introduction, whether it is to introduce participants who are meeting for the first time or to introduce the purpose for the meeting. Briefly summarizing various participants’ roles, responsibilities, and objectives can also improve the productivity of the call.
Plan for the Unexpected
Different types of meetings require different types of preparation. Determine which materials and technology make the most sense for each particular meeting.
Familiarize yourself with the platform you're using. Ensure the platform can support the number of expected attendees. And, keep the tech support number close by in case you run into a problem. For important, large, or externally-facing meetings, consider partnering with a company that can help you with technology setup and support during your meeting.
Tidy Up Your Computer Desktop
If you plan to share your screen during the virtual meeting, close any tabs in your browser that won’t be needed. Also be mindful of what is on your desktop. Store all of those sensitive documents sitting on your desktop in a temporary folder, so that all attendees see what you intend to share.
Close the Meeting Succinctly
Here are some key tips to close a meeting successfully:
- Summarize the main points made during the meeting
- Review the decisions/conclusions made during the meeting and review actionable items
- State next steps and follow up activities
- Thank participants for their time
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