Our world is becoming more remote and as a result, video conferencing and virtual meetings are becoming ever more vital to business communications. But let’s be honest: they can be awkward.
Just because you’re not face-to-face doesn’t mean it has to be a painful experience. We’ll show you how to make sure you’re making a good digital impression.
1. Create An Agenda Prior To Your Virtual Meeting
Preparing an agenda is Meeting Etiquette 101. An agenda makes the difference between a productive meeting and chaos.
With an agenda, all attendees can see the meeting goals and issues being discussed so they can be prepared and ready to roll for the meeting.
Think about it this way: having a meeting without an agenda is like having a car without a steering wheel — you can’t point yourself in the right direction and might end up stuck in a ditch.
2. Be Mindful Of Start Times
Even though your meeting is virtual, it’s still a meeting. Being professional includes being prompt and ready to go.
A pro tip to live by is, “No matter where you are, your professionalism should follow”. And just because your meetings are in your living room and you don’t have to get settled around the conference table, does not give you the opportunity to take meetings nonchalantly. You should still arrive early and check your technology. If not, you run the risk of having technical issues that can prevent you from getting through on time and disrupting everyone.
Always be prompt and join the call on time, every time.
3. Check Your Audio And Speaker
With meetings going virtual, there is more room for error with technical difficulties. It’s your obligation to check all of your audio and microphone settings prior to joining the call or meeting.
A little word from the wise: be careful when using your laptop’s audio and speaker. If your volume is too high, you could run the risk of creating feedback and disrupting the entire meeting.
Be mindful of your background noise. While you may have learned how to tune out your kids while they’re roughhousing in the background, your coworkers probably don’t have that mental setting.
And don’t be the guy who starts in on a bag of chips in the middle of things.
4. Introduce Yourself To The Room
When someone enters the room in a normal meeting, do you greet them? Do they acknowledge others in the room? Nine times out of 10, the answer is yes. If we do that in regular face-to-face interactions, then we should do it while we’re virtual, too.
By acknowledging that you’re in the room and greeting everyone there, you are getting a better understanding of who is in the meeting with you. Plus, isn’t it nice to say hello?
5. Wait For One Person To Finish Speaking
Have you ever heard of the joke of the interrupting cow? If not, the premise is a cow that interrupts you in the middle of your sentence. No one wants to be the cow.
By allowing others to finish their sentences, we can fully grasp the concepts and ideas that are being shared. But if we interrupt one another, maybe because we’re excited or we agree with what they’re saying, we can lose the message that’s being relayed to us.
Keep in mind, your meetings should allocate time for discussion and questions, so take your time, listen to others and join the conversation when necessary.
6. Stay On The Call From Start To Finish
You wouldn’t get up in the middle of a conference room meeting, don’t leave in the middle of a virtual one.
In a normal setting, leaving in a middle of a meeting is considered rude and the same goes for a virtual meeting. If you cannot stay on for the entire meeting make sure to excuse yourself. We all understand that things may arise, but if you can stay for the entire call or meeting, you should do so.
By staying for the entire meeting, you have the ability to fully understand the ideas and concepts that are being relayed to you, as well as ask any questions or concerns that may arise resulting in a clear goal of your next steps.
7. Stay Focused And Engaged Within The Meeting
Let’s face it, meetings are often not the most exciting place to be. It’s easy to get distracted by emails, random thoughts and plans on what’s going to happen after the meeting is over. Working virtually can only magnify the distractions.
If you find that you are having a problem staying engaged, try turning on your webcam. When you know others are watching, you will be more cognizant of what you are doing.
8. Mute Is Your Frenemy
While you are not talking, keeping yourself muted is always a good practice. Why, you ask? Well even though you’re not speaking, the rest of the group can hear your background noise including kitchen movement, cars driving by and dogs barking.
Keeping your computer on mute until it’s your turn to speak ensures you are proactively creating a distraction-free environment for the meeting — and all those in attendance.
On the other hand, please remember to unmute yourself when you’re trying to interject. Don’t worry it happens to the best of us. Just make sure you’re aware of when you’re on mute and be prepared to unmute when it’s your time to talk.
9. Address Someone By Name When Asking A Question
In a virtual meeting, attendees cannot see the physical gestures or cues that you are sending. As a result, whenever you’re asking a question to anyone in the meeting, please address them by name so they know exactly who you’re talking to.
This will also help prevent the awkward pause or confusion on who should answer. For example, let’s say someone says “Hey what are the numbers for Tuesday?” in a room full of 20 people, we are willing to bet that 19 out of the 20 people in attendance will be confused.
10. Summarize The Meeting
You should end every meeting with a summary of the important goals, questions, concerns and next steps. This simple summary can make a huge impact.
For example, after summarizing your meeting, if someone was still confused about the next meeting time and what they’re supposed to do for their part of the meeting, chances are they’ll bring it up. Without summarizing your meeting, this question or concern may have never come up. But thankfully you did, so now you can proactively answer the question and soothe the issue prior to your next meeting.
When it comes to best practices, virtual meetings are not far off from normal or regular in-person meetings. The same rules of professionalism apply, and the same communication etiquette is required. So apply these 10 best practices for virtual meetings and elevate your next virtual conference.