Whether you’re an occasional remote worker, a full-time freelancer, or amid a pandemic, chances are you’re participating in a fair number of virtual meetings. In fact, 14 percent of remote workers engage in more than ten meetings per week (during regular business circumstances).
While virtual meetings provide critical face time and build stronger professional relationships, they also present a unique set of etiquette challenges. We’ve compiled a list of virtual meeting rules that everyone should agree to follow.
While you should try to avoid walking into any meeting unprepared, it can be especially crucial for virtual meetings. You don’t have the luxury of being given a printed handout, so you’ll want to make sure to review the agenda and materials ahead of time. It’s also wise to document any thoughts or questions you might have so you’re at the ready when the time comes.
Working remotely has many perks, including casual dress and a less buttoned-up look overall. But if you’re going to be seen via webcam, you’d best put on a nice shirt, comb your hair, and look as though you belong in an office.
Set the Scene
Now that you’ve freshened up your appearance, it’s time to do the same for your environment. Make sure your background doesn’t consist of dirty dishes or piles of laundry. Check your camera and ensure you’re adequately lit and fit in the frame (i.e., don’t be a dark silhouette with your head cropped out).
Do a Tech Check
There’s nothing worse than disturbing an entire meeting because your technology fails. Take a few minutes before each meeting to check your mic, camera, and internet connection. Make sure you have the necessary video conferencing software installed and ready to go. If there’s a chance you will be sharing your screen, close any apps or windows you don’t want to be seen.
It’s so easy to let your mind (and mouse) wander during virtual meetings. But before you shoot off a quick text or Slack your coworker a topical meme…don’t. It could cause you to miss a critical piece of information or, worse, get caught speechless when asked a question you don’t know the answer to because you weren’t listening.
While it can be important for most participants to mute themselves to avoid background noise, don’t let yourself stay silent forever. Try to speak almost as much as you would during an in-person meeting, bearing in mind that it’s best to keep your comments concise and clear. That said, if you’re home with barking dogs or taking notes on your computer, make sure you’re muted until it’s time to talk.
The Virtual Life
As the world continues to lean into remote working and video conferencing, it’s pretty safe to say that your virtual meeting participation will only increase. Following these commonsense rules will help you maintain a positive professional image and stay on top of your game—whether you’re working from your living room, a coffee house, or a coworking space.