2020 has definitely been the ‘Year of the Virtual Meeting’. It’s not that Zoom and Microsoft Teams calls weren’t used pre-COVID-19, but with the rise of home-based and ‘hybrid’ home-office work practices over recent months, video meetings are now the rule and not the exception for millions of workers here in the United Kingdom.
At their best, video calls can be a highly effective and efficient way to keep in touch with colleagues and business contacts as well as an essential means to collaborate remotely on projects. At their worst, though, video calls can be riddled with technical glitches, sometimes feel entirely unnecessary and/or are poorly run.
A recent multi-country LinkedIn poll by Robert Half found that the Top 3 video conference call irritants are: #1 Poor video/audio quality; #2 Calls are unnecessary (an email would suffice); and #3 Too many people talking at once. These survey results are a timely reminder that practical video conference call etiquette is essential in order to make the best use of the time allocated and for all participants to appear organised and professional.
So, here are 14 video conference call etiquette tips designed to help you steer clear of trouble…
1. Make sure everything works
Technical difficulties can be the bane of many video conference calls and are the Number 1 irritant cited by respondents to Robert Half surveys on this topic in both the US as well as internationally. To avoid these glitches, test your technology – computer, applications, camera, and microphone – to ensure it’s all functioning before the meeting begins. You don’t want to delay the start of a gathering because no one can see or hear you.
2. Get organized (and sense-check if a call is actually required)
Ask yourself: ‘Is this call really necessary? Can I cover this topic via email or other means of messaging?’ (and thus avoid the Number 2 irritant from our survey – unnecessary video calls). Then if you decide to proceed and are leading a virtual meeting, share an agenda prior. Remember: It’s all too easy to veer off topic during an online meeting or become distracted by surroundings (especially when many people are working from home in dining rooms and spare bedrooms). For the sake of productivity and focus, limit your agenda items and send them out to participants beforehand.
3. Be screen ready
One of the best things about working from home is being able to dress more casually. But video meetings put a limit on this to some degree. There’s probably not a need for a suit, but do put on professional, clean clothing and check your appearance in the mirror before your video meeting begins. You don’t want anything to draw attention away from what you’re saying. As a bonus, getting ready for the workday can help put you in a productive mindset. Warning: If you’re wearing a professional shirt with sweatpants, don’t forget to fully exit the meeting before standing up.
4. Check your background
The best background for video meetings is one that won’t be distracting. Blank is often best. Check to make sure there isn’t a pile of dirty dishes or laundry in your background. Many virtual meeting platforms allow you to change or blur the background, if needed. Also check to see that the lighting is adequate so people can actually see you. This is particularly important if you’re being interviewed remotely for a job or speaking with new contacts for the first time