If you’ve ever used video conferencing software, you should be familiar with the mute button. While most are familiar with this, it’s a rarely used function. It’s always polite when you’re not speaking to mute yourself; it will help to reduce background sounds, particularly if you’re in a noisy environment.
When on a call, it is polite to ensure that the speaker can’t hear unwelcome distractions such as barking dogs, buzzing kitchen blenders, flushing toilets or children playing in the background. Knowing where the mute button is prior to starting the call will help avoid scrambling for it at the last minute when the doorbell rings.
When attending a virtual meeting you should approach it like a normal meeting; this means aiming to join a few minutes before the scheduled time so that you can check your internet connection, camera and microphone are all working correctly.
While everyone understands that working from home is a slightly more casual approach to work life, being punctual will be appreciated by the meeting organiser and it demonstrates your professionalism and respect towards everyone else.
It is never a good look to monopolise a conversation and talk over others in person. The same goes for virtually. This type of behaviour could be seen as counterproductive in work meetings, especially when time is off the essence. Zoom meetings can, at times, be difficult enough to navigate, so let others speak to help keep things running smoothly and make everyone feel involved.
If you are leading the meeting, a great video conferencing function you can make attendees aware of at the beginning, is the ‘raise hand’ feature. This will help avoid people talking over each other and give confidence to those who may be reluctant to interrupt but have something important to interject into the conversation.
It is always good to pay attention to your appearance when in a work setting and virtual meetings are no different. Neglecting your appearance could give off the wrong impression that the meeting doesn’t have the same level of importance as it would in a normal business setting.
We suggest being well dressed and groomed as if you were in the office and approach the meeting in a positive mood. While we may be spending a lot more time in our pyjamas it’s still important to dress professionally for Zoom meetings, at least from the waist up.
While it’s not always avoidable, due to things like lunchtime meetings or a working lunch, it’s best to avoid eating on camera if possible. As some companies purposefully schedule Zoom meetings over the lunch hour to maximise productivity, a good suggestion is turning the camera off if you decide to eat, but we suggest letting attendees know beforehand.
Of course, some companies adopt an ‘if your camera isn’t on, are you even there?’ attitude or ‘cameras always on’ policy. If this is the case, we suggest you avoid eating distracting and messy food, like a fully loaded burger or chicken wings!
With some companies operating shorter working weeks and some teams running at a lower capacity it’s important to be respectful of people’s time during the workday. So try to be efficient during virtual meetings.
Be prepared to end the meeting promptly when all points have been covered; this allows you and others to move on to other tasks and appointments. Although we aren’t for a second suggesting don’t catch up with your colleagues informally, we are saying be mindful of people’s time, especially if the meeting lasts over an hour and a half. At that length, incorporate the ‘catch-up’ within the allotted time, making space for it.
We also suggest that if, you’re the host of the meeting, try to let every participant leave at their own pace and see if there are any attendees who might want to exchange some final words before hanging up. There may be some attendees who want to raise some points in private but do not have the confidence to let you know in front of others.
This one is a tricky subject as there’s no doubt a wide range of what’s considered ‘appropriate’ depends on your personality, your company and your industry. When choosing where to sit during your virtual meeting try to pick a presentable spot in your home.
A good way to avoid an inappropriate background is use a virtual background. This way you can choose from a wide range of suitable options and avoid visibly messy rooms or inappropriate posters, holiday ornaments or drying clothes in the background.
While people have become more gracious and accommodating of children, pets and spouses in the house, it’s recommended that you create a space where you can be fully present, while keeping interruptions to a minimum.
The first thing you can do be instantly more engaged is to turn on your camera. While we understand some people avoid using their camera because they feel nervous, this can immediately form a barrier between you and other attendees. By using your camera, you can show you are listening and engaged, that way the speaker will feel more at ease too, which can lead to a more productive meeting.
Make sure your camera is stable and positioned at eye level so that you can be present during the meeting. It’s also a great way to show everyone else that you aren’t multitasking and giving the speaker your full, undivided attention.