Zoom. Microsoft Teams. Google Hangouts. Facebook Video. By now, we’ve all used some variation of them. Once a convenient alternative to personal meetings, video conferencing has become the new normal. Whether you’re engaging with coworkers or consulting with professionals outside your company, video conferencing is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
And like any other facet of the professional world, there are rules to follow to ensure proper video conferencing etiquette. Now as obvious as it may be, you’d be surprised by how many people violate the simple, unspoken guidelines of how to act appropriately. You yourself might even be guilty of a few infractions. To ensure you practice proper etiquette, here are the 10 commandments of video conferencing to abide by moving forward:
Be your own tech support
First and foremost, make sure everything works. Check your sound, check your video and double-check that everyone has the appropriate restrictions either set up or lifted (i.e. screen sharing), as needed. Nothing throws a meeting off like a 5 minutes delay to run some tech support, especially if you’re the host.
Punch in for punctuality
When has punctuality not been important? Whether you’re the host or an attendee, always be on time. Everyone’s time is valuable and it’s imperative that you show courtesy to your host and/or attendees by abiding by the set times for the meetings. This also goes for ending meetings on time. Stick to the schedule and all should be well.
Privacy makes perfect
Make sure the people who are supposed to be attending the meeting are the only people attending the meeting. Believe it or not, crashing video conferencing meetings/parties is a trend that has grown in popularity given everyone’s current dependency on these programs. Adjust the settings accordingly and ensure that the invites were sent only to the appropriate parties.
Tame your background
Don’t let your backdrop be the star of your video conference. The last thing you want is to be talking in a meeting and think that everyone is paying attention to you, but in actuality, they’re trying to decipher what is on the poster or picture frames on your wall. If you’re capable of having a blank canvas of sorts in the background, do it. If not, just remove any obvious distractions.
Honor thy dress code
We’ve all gotten way too comfortable doing everything in pajama pants and our favorite old t-shirt, but save the comfy clothes for your leisure time. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to put on your Sunday best. It just means that you should focus on looking presentable and professional. Remember, you’re meeting with coworkers and clients, not your long-distance family members.
Eat before or after
There’s nothing more annoying and unappealing than loud chewing. Now imagine if someone is doing it directly into your ear. Gross, right? If you don’t want it done to you, don’t do it to them.
Avoid uninvited visitors
Some of you might live with your families or roommates. Others might be cohabitating with your rambunctious, attention-seeking pets. Whichever it may be, try to give them a heads up or make the appropriate arrangements so that your meetings go undisturbed. It can be easier said than done but do your best to try.
Mute is your friend
And if your cohabitors of all species can’t be as quiet as you’d like, remember: mute is your friend. It’s respectful to put yourself on mute if you’re not talking, especially if you’re in a meeting with 4 or more people. Unexpected noises might happen on your end (i.e., car horns, family/roommates rummaging around, pets going wild, etc.), so just be ready. Also, remember to turn it back off when it’s your turn to speak!
Eyes on the prize
Turn off your TV and put your phone away. Wandering eyes are highly exposed during these video conferences. Be respectful and attentive and do your best to get rid of all the distractions beforehand.
Don’t abandon ship
If you’re the host of the meeting, you should be the first to enter and the last to leave. Departing the meeting prematurely will more than likely end the chat for everyone, whether they were finished talking or not. So stick with it the whole way through. As an attendee, randomly leaving a meeting, specifically without a warning, can also be a distraction to not only the host but the other attendees as well. Think of it as walking out of a show midway through the second act. Everyone’s going to see. Don’t be that person. If you do have to step out early, do try to give other attendees a heads up when the meeting starts.