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Should You Mute Yourself During Video Conferences?

You may love your background noises, but your coworkers probably don’t

LeoPatrizi/E+ via Getty Images

It’s not always easy to know how to work from home, especially when in-person meetings have been swapped for video conferences. One of the biggest questions about video chat etiquette is when to use the mute button. If you’re not the one speaking, should you always be on mute?

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According to video chat service Zoom, the answer is yes. You may love the whir of your room fan or the noise your coffee machine makes when you’re brewing homemade espresso, but the other people on your video call don’t. And if you’re trying to navigate how to work from home with kids and pets who may be playing in the background, the mute function almost feels necessary.

Muting yourself when it isn’t your turn to speak can also help you to avoid another behavior you may not realize is rude: interrupting. It’s important not to talk over others during video chats as multiple voices can get quite muddled during virtual communication. 

If you do need to talk to someone else during the video meeting or have an urgent question, take advantage of the text chat functionality that most of these programs have. In a professional setting, follow the rules of online etiquette and use proper capitalization and grammar when typing. 

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When it is your turn to speak, unmute your microphone promptly and chat. It’s also fine to unmute your mic if there’s a lot of back and forth. But if you’re just listening, keep quiet. And also be sure you know these other rules of video conference etiquette.