With employees scattered all across the globe, meetings are being conducted via video conferencing. This includes job interviews and client meetings as well.
Since such a bulk of our interaction takes place online, it is crucial to have some online meeting etiquette guidelines in place.
Bear in mind that 30% of an employee’s time spent in meetings is considered unproductive, it is essential to follow specific tips for leading effective meetings.
Why is Meeting Etiquette Important?
As home and workplace are beginning to blend, the boundaries between our personal and professional life are narrow. Needless to say, during an online meeting, multiple awkward situations are bound to occur.
With an increase in remote work, we are being introduced to a lot of new ways of working, and there are many things that we are yet to learn. Many guides to remote work can help us with this, but it begins with connecting with the teammates correctly.
Your family member could walk in on you while you are in an office meeting, or there could be other distractions. This compromises the professionalism and might even stretch the meeting time a bit.
But these things can be improved and optimized better by knowing about a few basic online meeting etiquettes. This will also ensure that your presence and appearance on screen remain consistent throughout the meetings.
By following basic meeting etiquettes, you help your colleagues and company in-
- Saving more time
- Becoming productive
- Completing the meeting agenda on time
- Being more focused when meetings happen
Before we present some ground rules for virtual meetings, here are some do's and don't you must follow during online meetings.
What are the Do's and Don'ts of Meeting?
Do's of online meetings
- Involve each participant in preparing the agenda
- Start the meeting on a positive note
- Give each speaker time to express their views and encourage participation
- Track all the decisions made during meetings (hint: use an automated note taker for this.)
- Delegate action items
- Share meeting minutes with stakeholders
Don'ts of online meetings
- Don’t interrupt others
- Avoid speaking right away
- Don’t be late or start late
- Avoid focusing only on status updates
- Don’t digress. Stay on track as much as possible
- Don’t convert meetings into extensive monologues
It is interesting to note that most meeting etiquettes are based on these best practices. Let's have a look at them in more detail.
Online Meeting Etiquettes
1. Test your setup
The whole point of online meetings is to listen and see each other virtually. If there is an issue with either of the options, it defeats the purpose of conducting online meetings. Also, make sure your internet connection is working as intended.
You can test your microphone and video before joining any meeting in all the online meeting tools like Zoom or Skype.
2. Mute By Default
Either it is a large group meeting, or a meeting limited to 2-3 individuals, make sure to enable options like mute by default while joining for audio and video. This will give you time to look at your surroundings and analyze for unwanted sounds and visuals.
Unmute audio only when it is your turn to speak or when required.
3. Choose the Right Technology or Software
To ensure everyone is equally productive and collaborative in the meeting, you need to have the right software. The online meeting software should be simple and easy to use. Anyone should be able to hop in seamlessly, leading to a better experience without any confusion.
For file sharing, relying on the most common tools like Google Drive or Dropbox is good enough. Also, use a common Calendar platform, so everyone gets the invite without sending dozens of emails as a reminder.
4. Keep Your Hands Off The Keyboard
It doesn’t look good at all when someone is explaining a concept and a lot of people start typing on their keyboard to either take notes or do other tasks.
Meetings require everyone to be more alert and mentally present in the discussion to have conversations that spark more ideas. Note-taking can be automated to increase the productivity of meetings.
Instead of writing notes, you can use our AI Assistant Fred which will transcribe your entire meeting for later use.
5. Stop Multitasking
Multitasking can’t be coupled with everything. It is very essential to understand when and when not to indulge in multitasking.
Meetings require everyone to be focused and alert. Everyone’s time should be utilized in such a way that they provide their best suggestions, ideas, and opinions in the discussions. Make sure to not indulge in other tasks that are not relevant to the meeting.
6. Be Appropriately Dressed
Working from home doesn’t necessarily mean you have to dress like you are going out to the office but make sure to be in professional attire in meetings depending upon the roles.
If it is a client meeting or internal team meeting with someone from the high above, it is recommended to don a shirt or something that looks semi-professional at least. It makes an impression on the people who will be listening to you.
7. Clear Background
Always choose a place with a simple solid color background such as a wall and not with a place that displays tons of things behind you. Anyone listening to you should not be distracted by what is in the background. They should be able to focus on your face and what you are saying.
8. Arrive Early
This is obvious for a lot of reasons. By arriving early, you can troubleshoot any problems with the meeting tool like testing the video, audio, and background. You can even check your presentation before presenting it to make sure there aren’t any glitches and errors.
9. Minimize Body Movements
Avoid quick movements. It makes it difficult for webcams to capture sudden and quick movements. Quick movements may appear blurry or choppy to others on the same call. Maintain eye contact with the camera and try to be more engaging in the meeting.
10. Set Boundaries
Up until now, people were not having any designated office space at home. Earlier, they were working from common areas of the home that are bound to create some noise by a child or family member.
Always make a habit of having a meeting in a room where the door can be locked, making it clear for the family members to stay quiet and create a minimum commotion. Over time we will get better at this but till then we all need to make small adjustments in our daily personal habits.
11. Set an Agenda
When you are operating professionally from your private space, it is easy and natural to drift off. So make sure to have a clear agenda before meeting so all the participants have something to say and are more engaged in the meeting.
12. Pay Attention
Sounds obvious, isn’t it? But it is too common for people to switch to other apps if the meeting stretches too long. It is the meeting host’s job to keep the meeting on agenda as well as each participant’s job to make sure they pay attention to the entire meeting and ask questions to keep things rolling.
13. Introduce Everyone
If a meeting involves people from other departments or teams who don’t work as often together or with clients, always start the meeting by introducing each other as concisely as possible so everyone can have a context of what to ask.
14. Turn Off Notifications
It is very easy to forget while working from home to turn notifications off on your mobile as it is not very habitual compared to when you walk into an actual conference room. Turning off notifications of your system and mobile will allow you to not get distracted.
15. Give Everyone a Job
Ever wondered why you were in some meetings where you didn't know what you were supposed to do? It is the quickest way to kill team engagement.
Provide everyone something to present or discuss before scheduling a meeting. This will help you avoid people who shouldn’t be at the meeting.
16. Summarize the Meeting Before Ending
It is essential that as the business meeting nears its end, everyone should have a clear objective of what they gained from the meeting and what to work upon next. The meeting host should give clear objectives on what was discussed that day, what each person needs to do with any deadline, and what next steps would be followed until the next meeting is scheduled.
It also provides a sense of accomplishment to each participant and establishes a clear goal of what others will be working on and just in case something overlaps they know whom to contact directly.
17. Don’t Interrupt Others
As the voice and video need to go through the internet to every participant make sure to not interrupt anyone as they are speaking. There is usually some lag during online meetings and the response usually reaches a bit later. Interrupting in between doesn’t leave a good impression on others in general as well.
18. Avoid Speaking Right Away
Waiting a second before speaking can clear a lot of confusion. For instance, if no one speaks you are good to go else wait until the other person ends talking. Always consider that it’s happening online and not everyone's internet connection will be stable.
19. Know Your Audience
As the inclination towards consistent online meetings will increase it is very important to make sure you know your audience and use terminology and discussion which can be understood easily by everyone. It will help in meeting to come out with an outcome, not with more doubts.
20. Breaks For Lengthy Meetings
If the meeting is supposed to take too long make sure to have appropriate arrangements and declare it beforehand on the agenda with the provision of taking breaks. This way everyone can take a small break and come back with a fresh mind to continue the discussion.
21. End on Time
It is easy to indulge in long discussions and go beyond the set time for the meeting. It ends up wasting time for all the participants who should be working on other tasks. If required, assign someone from the team to make sure the meeting remains on track and only the necessary points are discussed.
22. Allow People to Leave
Not all meetings require all the participants to stay in the meeting till the end. Some people from a few teams may have joined just for updates or quick discussions. Allow people to leave if the rest of the meeting doesn’t require some participants to stay as they can continue working on other important tasks.
It is reported that almost 52% of people work remotely at least once every week. The chances of your meeting with someone working remotely today are way higher than they have ever been. Learning basic online meeting etiquette is very important now.
As the businesses have started moving towards remote working culture to provide employees more flexibility, they have also begun to save huge expenses on real estate and other employee-related costs.
The trend of online meetings will keep growing and is bound to become a daily part of our jobs. By following online meeting etiquette tips, you can easily stay more productive and engaged during meetings.