While we are grateful for virtual conferencing technologies that allow us to maintain business as (sort of) usual, many participants don’t understand a critical component of it. Virtual meeting etiquette enables remote meetings to be productive and participants to walk away with exactly what they came for.
As a rock star leader, you not only need to know how to make the most out of a virtual meeting, but how to teach your team to do so, as well.
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Use an Appropriate Video Conferencing Tool
There are a variety of different platforms available for virtual conferencing. Before you select one, decide what features you need and what may be overkill. The best platform is going to be the easiest one for your attendees to use.
Just like an in-person meeting, attendees want to know what will be discussed and for how long. Once you schedule a meeting, create an agenda and send it along with meeting details, including the date, time (and time zone), a link, and instructions on how to log on. Request that your attendees read the agenda ahead of time to prepare, and then remember that emails can get buried. If you are sending this well in advance of the meeting, you’ll want to send follow-up emails with the log in details or create a calendar event that provides the link. Make it as easy as possible and respect their schedule by ending on time.
If working from home, you and your attendees may have a variety of other distractions vying for your attention. This could include children needing help with homework, dogs barking, or spouses asking when you’ll be ready for dinner. Whenever possible, set up your work area in a room with a door and as little noise as possible. Then request that the participants stay on Mute until they need to share something.
It can also be really tempting to check your email or texts during a virtual meeting, so ask your attendees to put their cell phones away, stay focused, and stay seated throughout the call.
Technology is wonderful, but it isn’t perfect. Even rock stars do sound checks. Test your mic levels in the beginning of the call to ensure that everyone can hear you, but that you aren’t destroying anyone’s ear drums. Remind people that there is sometimes a several second lag, so they should pause momentarily to avoid speaking over one another. And seriously, don’t forget that Mute button.
Working from home is fun, isn’t it? No need to brush your hair, shower, or change out of your pajamas. It’s great… until you have a virtual meeting. Then you just look unprofessional.
Whether you’re the host or a video call or a participant, it’s important to look professional during a video call. Wear business-appropriate clothing and make sure your hair looks presentable. While you may be tempted to wear jewelry, shiny objects can be distracting and earrings may rub up against headphones, making distracting noises.
Make sure that you don’t have anything offensive, inappropriate, or displeasing to the eye in view of the camera. This includes letting other people in your house know that you’ll be on a video call.
If your background is less than perfect, some of the virtual platforms allow you to set a backdrop. Last but not least, double check the lighting in the room to make sure that you won’t appear too dark or too bright.
Hide Personal or Sensitive Information
Many of the platforms offer screen-sharing during the call. This can be great to show participants what you are working on or to use visual aids throughout your presentation. However, this can also go horribly wrong.
Be mindful of what you have on your desktop and make sure that you choose a fresh browser window when you decide to share your screen. This will prevent any personal information or non-work related websites from being viewed by your attendees.
One of the biggest challenges of virtual meetings is the lack of comradery. Thankfully, there are ways to get around that challenge to give your meeting more of an office atmosphere. Here are a few options:
- Leave time at the beginning of the meeting for the presenter and the attendees to introduce themselves and have a bit of small chat.
- Open the meeting room a few minutes before you are scheduled to start and leave it open when you finish so people can catch up.
- Plan an ice breaker to loosen everyone up.
- You can send people into smaller breakout rooms if need be.
Communicate Virtual Meeting Etiquette Expectations to Your Team
At the beginning of the meeting, let your attendees know what to expect and what is expected of them. Are they just there to listen or is participation requested? How long will the meeting be? Should they stay on Mute and raise their hand if they’d like to contribute or can they jump in at any time?
When you explain virtual meeting etiquette and share any specific expectations you may have, attendees will know what to do and your meeting will flow more smoothly.
Virtual Meeting Tips
Now that you understand virtual meeting etiquette, there are a few tips that may help you make your online meetings even more productive.
- Record the video so people can review the content later, and those who couldn’t attend can catch up when they’re available.
- Send out meeting minutes and a recap answering any questions.
- Be kind. Not everyone is tech savvy, and while this shift is perfectly natural for some, others may have a great deal of difficulty.
- Realize that it’s more challenging to make your presentation more engaging and more interactive, but different video conferencing platforms have different types of tools, such as polls and chat boxes.
- Remind participants that depending on the platform, their private chats can be viewed by the host once the meeting has ended.
Maintaining a connected team can be challenging when virtual meetings are your primary way of interacting. Thankfully, when you and your team know proper meeting etiquette, you can rest assured that your home-based rock star team is just as engaged in the meeting as they would be in the office.