10 Video Meeting Etiquette Tips in the New Work Landscape

Video Call Etiquette

You hop on your weekly team video meeting and someone on camera has an obnoxious background image. Maybe your not-so-tech-savvy finance guy forgot to mute himself while others spoke, so you heard his wife’s music blaring from the next room.

New forms of communication come with a learning curve and a host of potential faux pas. Leaving liquor bottles visible on client Zoom meetings has become equivalent to sending an email with the wrong name in the salutation.

Sometimes, team members need to brush up on video meeting etiquette for business, especially since a lot of companies (and entire industries) will continue operating remotely for the foreseeable future.

Here are our top 10 tips for maintaining smart, courteous video chat etiquette for your next call.

1. Dress like you would for an in-person meeting.

WFH comes with a number of perks and wearing whatever you want to work from the comfort of your home is one of them. But video conferencing – especially with third-party groups – requires more care than Skyping your family.

We strongly suggest dressing head to toe like you would for an in-person meeting. Yes, this means trading your favorite sweatpants for “real” pants. The professional attire can also help you maintain an equally professional tone.

2. Check your Internet connection.

“Hold on, I think we lost Jim. Jim, you’re frozen. Can you hear us? Jim?”

These conversations stem from choppy audio and pixelated visuals that add minutes to video calls. We recommend taking a quick inventory of how much bandwidth other items in your house are using before logging on.

If video conferencing is a large part of your WFH setup, check your internet speed to help pinpoint issues and look into possibly paying for more bandwidth to meet your needs.

3. Keep your chargers handy.

Don’t let your presentations be cut short by a dead device. Have chargers for your phones and laptops ready to go in the event you see a “low battery” message. Better yet, keep your tech plugged in so your main device and your backup devices are ready to go.

4. Make sure your background and surroundings are professional.

Backgrounds for video calls should be clean and clutter-free. The goal is to keep attention on what you’re saying, not the busy background behind your head. You might be proud of the wine collection accumulating above your shelves, but your 3 p.m. high-profile meeting probably isn’t the best time to have that on display in the background.

Be aware of your surroundings on video calls, especially if you’re walking around your house while taking the meeting. Trash, alcohol bottles, and dirty laundry piles could distract your coworkers from conversation – or worse yet, make you the center of the conversation.

Companies like Zoom offer “green-screen” style backgrounds for users. It’s tempting to use fun themed backgrounds like Star Wars to your video calls with friends, but save the Millennium Falcon cockpit for personal calls instead of client meetings.

5. Log into meetings early.

Platforms like Zoom and Skype can have several-step processes to log in to meetings. By logging in to platforms five minutes early, you give yourself a buffer to troubleshoot any login issues you might have while getting a small window to mentally prepare as well.

6. Create an agenda and stick to it.

It’s great to see a different face, especially when you’ve been quarantined with the same faces for what feels like forever. But playing catch-up with coworkers can extend the length of meetings significantly.

If you’re leading a call, jot down your agenda and present a firm time goal at the start of the meeting to keep everyone focused. If you’re participating in a call, only ask questions that everyone needs answered. Save the one-off questions or specific details for a follow-up email.

7. Make eye contact with the camera when speaking.

This tip feels weird at first; you want to look at your team after all! But if you’re presenting or speaking to a group, looking into the camera rather than down at the screen gives the appearance of eye contact. (It also spares you the frustration of focusing on your own face and thinking “oh no, I need a haircut.”)

8. Know when to hit mute/unmute.

If you’re not leading the discussion, mute yourself. No, this isn’t so you won’t get caught making snide comments under your breath. Muting on larger calls prevents from distracting background noise like your kid’s Disney movies or your neighbor’s lawn mower starting up.

Similarly, always ensure you’re unmuted before you start speaking. Zoom and other video platforms often set the default audio to muted when logging onto calls.

9. Use the video blackout feature on longer calls.

Sometimes meetings get long and you have to take care of general daily life, like grabbing a snack or taking your dog out to the bathroom. In those instances, use the video blackout feature on your video meeting platform so you don’t distract anyone else on the call. This is especially important for larger group calls where you might be less active than normal. Don’t worry, blacking out the screen still keeps you unmuted if you need to contribute to the conversation without being seen.

10. Give grace for interruptions.

While WFH comes with plenty of benefits, you’re still working from your house and likely with a roommate, pet or family members that also demand your attention. As much as working parents try to take a break from their kids, sometimes interruptions happen. Dogs bark to go outside, and cats climb up onto shelves in the background.

Be gracious during these meetings that while, yes, time is valuable, life still happens. Holding a meeting behind a video screen doesn’t make who you’re talking with any less human.

We get it. Video meetings don’t always substitute for “the real thing,” and other meetings could’ve been saved for an all-company email. At Appleton, we continue working with clients remotely – collaborating to help them save time and resources while reaching their digital goals. Appleton is an award-winning, full-service Orlando advertising agency that works with local, national and international clients to deliver impressive ad campaigns, branding, print, web, public relations, social media and video services — all in-house. At Appleton, we want to learn about your business, empower your marketing team and be your creative resource. Your advertising goals are worth a conversation: contact us at 407-246-0092 or info@appletoncreative.com.

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