From students in high school to working professionals, COVID-19 has created an even more virtual world than before. With online classes and remote working, virtual meetings became part of the daily routine. Most of our team works remote, and we have clients across the country, so virtual meetings aren’t so new to us. Still, there are some important things to know as the use of online meetings will only increase.

Cisco’s Webex saw a record number of usage when the pandemic hit, showing how prominent online meetings have become. For students, new working professionals and especially outside sales people who are now relying on virtual connections, an obstacle to this new norm is – what is the etiquette for video conferencing?

Don’t Be Afraid of the Mute Button

Meetings are generally run where there are times for one person or a group to speak and others listen. While listening, it’s important to utilize the mute button. There is nothing worse in a meeting than hearing background noise of typing keyboards, slurping of coffee or a hushed side conversation. On the other hand, it’s important to remember when the mute button is on. Trying to offer opinion or comments is difficult when none of the colleagues can hear, so learning how to utilize these features properly is vital.

Side tip: When you’re asking questions, you should also give participants a little more time to ask, since they will have to unmute themselves.

Be Attentive, Present and Still

Like any in-person meeting, all attendees would be seated, quiet and respectful of who is talking and the subject at hand. Although being remote allows for the comfort of home, it does not promote eating, moving around your space nor any other visual distractions. Moving locations where the webcam is changing scenery or using frantic hand gestures can be distracting for others. 

Set Up Your Space Beforehand

Make sure there are not any surprise background elements in your space before the meeting. Make sure the background is basic, like a blank wall. Lighting is important and can be tricky, so it could be beneficial to see what the lighting looks like on a webcam. Avoid sitting outside when joining a meeting, as natural lighting and outdoor noises can be unpredictable. Popular video conference applications such as Zoom and Webex usually have an option to start a meeting alone without invites, this could be a great feature to see exactly how the video conference will look. 

Utilize Instant and Chat Messaging Features

A common obstacle with online meetings can be the ability to ask questions or share ideas when others are talking. Although the main benefit of video conferencing is to have an almost in-person conversation, the messaging option during meetings can be useful. Not only can it be utilized for submitting questions or comments, but it can also be a great space for sharing links, information and more with participants.

The distracting side to the messaging feature can be the ability to private chat someone during the meeting. While this is fun and potentially more exciting than the meeting at hand, try to use the messaging for sharing ideas and asking questions instead.

Go forth and be a great virtual meeting participant. If you want to practice, send us an invite and we’d be happy to chat with you.