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Essential Etiquette for Your Video Conference Calls

Essential Etiquette for Your Video Conference Calls

As the pandemic persists, we continue to rely on technology to be fully productive in our work. In particular, video conferencing (think Zoom and Microsoft Teams) continues to replace in-person meetings, and fortunately the capability lets teams collaborate and forge ahead.

But the video conference model comes with some downsides—some are platform related and some are participant related. We should all have gotten past the learning curve by now. Those on your team who are still exhibiting any of the following faux pas are either lazy, have become apathetic, or are desperately in need of an attitude adjustment.

Make sure to employ these rules of etiquette for video conferencing—or risk indiscretions that can flag you as a slacker.

Mute Your Phone and Other Devices

Remember in the pre-COVID days of in-person meetings when someone’s silly ring tone would blare in the middle of an important discussion? The annoyance factor isn’t diminished when it happens during a Zoom or Teams meeting. Further, when notifications are activated on the computer or device you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message will take over the audio and you’ll miss out on pieces of the conversation.

Dress Nicely from the Waist Up.

Depending on your company culture and the caliber of your meeting, make sure to show up on screen looking the part of the professional you wish to project. For women, wear make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved, take care with your hair, and consider a tie.

Clean up Your Workspace.

The state of your workspace says more about your professional persona than the ideas you offer. Make sure that you remove clutter and present a neat, orderly working space—at least the part the camera can see.

Show up on Time.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Don’t be the cause of a meeting disruption with a tardy entry request. As with in-person meetings, it’s a point of courtesy to arrive on time.

Select the Video Feature

In most instances, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square, especially at the start of the meeting when introductions are made, or greetings are shared. Your words will pack more punch when people can see, and not just hear you. If it’s necessary to turn off video, either because of a poor connection or some unintended commotion in the room, give a short explanation through the Chat function, and go back on video once the situation resolves.

Pay Attention to Lighting

If there is a window behind you, realize that you will be shrouded in darkness. If drawing the curtain doesn’t dim enough of the light—and if moving to a spot with a different backdrop is not an option—do something to add light. Some recommendations, depending on your setup: portable spotlights; multi-functional search lights (which are larger, add more light, and are re-chargeable); circle light, which adds a lot of light but takes up space and may just add light to one side; and overhead spotlights from both sides.

Keep Distractions to a Minimum

It’s cute to see someone’s puppy once, but it’s not so cute if the puppy barks through the meeting. Keep your door closed and ask family members to be considerate.

“Raise Your Hand” When You Want to Speak

The slight delay in many video conferences means that jumping into a conversation can result in speaking over another person. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise your hand feature that signals to the host that you would like to speak. This is an effective meeting management device, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Think Ahead before Sharing Your Screen

It’s tedious and time wasting to watch someone click through folders in search of a document he or she intends to share. If you know that you will need to bring up a document or video on your screen during a meeting, pull it out of its folder and onto your desktop for easy access. It also helps to clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter. Before the meeting starts, be sure to remind the meeting host that you will need him or her to activate the sharing the screen function. Don’t forget to hit “stop share” when you are finished discussing the document and ready to go back to seeing participants.

Ask for Permission before Taking Photos or Recording the Session

While the digital age has set off a sharing culture through social media, don’t assume that just because a meeting occurs in the virtual realm it is intended to be shared. Always ask for participants’ consent before recording a meeting or capturing a photograph of the screen of participants. It could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss and how they show up.


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by Vicky Oliver // Vicky Oliver is a leading career development expert and the multi-best-selling author of five books, including Live Like a Millionaire (Without Having to Be One) (Skyhorse, 2015), 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions (Sourcebooks 2005), named in the top 10 list of “Best Books for HR Interview Prep", and Bad Bosses, Crazy Coworkers & Other Office Idiots (Sourcebooks, 2008). She is a sought-after speaker and seminar presenter and a popular media source, having made over 901 appearances in broadcast, print and online outlets. For more information, visit vickyoliver.com.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.