VIrtual Meeting Etiquette to Know While Working from Home

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Virtual Meeting Etiquette to Know While Working from Home

Virtual Meeting Etiquette to Know While Working from Home

Should you mute yourself?
VIrtual Meeting Etiquette to Know While Working from Home

Ariel Skelley/DigitalVision via Getty Images

A major part of working from home or working with people who live in other parts of the world is video conferencing. But knowing the ins-and-outs of this increasingly common form of interoffice communication isn’t always so easy. Here’s a guide with all the video conference etiquette you need to know.

Make sure your equipment works

Make sure your equipment works

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One of the top tips for working from home is to make sure all of your equipment is working. Is your internet connection good? Is your laptop booted up and plugged in? And before you hop on a video call, make sure your computer camera and microphone are also functioning.

Remember, you’re at work

Remember, you’re at work

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While a lot of the rules of office etiquette are out the window right now, you’re still on the clock. You can microwave as much fish as you want from home, but remember to speak and conduct yourself in a professional manner during video calls.

Get dressed

Get dressed

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The classic rules of dress code don’t necessarily apply when working from home, but if you’re on a video call with your managers or your employees, try to look professional. Wear a nice sweater, brush your hair and maybe throw on a coat of mascara.

Practice before hosting

Practice before hosting

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If you’re the host of the video call or if you are going to be speaking a lot, practice a bit before beginning the call. Connect with a trusted co-worker to make sure your sound is OK and your video is showing up well.

Have an agenda

Have an agenda

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If you’re hosting the video conference, make sure you have an agenda on hand and follow it as closely as possible.

Call in from a quiet, professional space

Call in from a quiet, professional space

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It’s not always easy to find a good spot to work from while at home, especially if you’re trying to juggle working from home and entertaining kids. If you have a home office or a desk, call in from there. Try to avoid being in a loud room with other people or calling in from the bathroom.

Be on time

Be on time

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Being late is one of the biggest etiquette mistakes, period. You wouldn’t wander into a conference room 15 minutes after a meeting began, so make sure you’re showing up to video meetings on time too. Better yet, dial in a couple minutes early.

Turn your camera on

Turn your camera on

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You may need to get your hair cut during coronavirus quarantine, or maybe your home office is a little disheveled. Regardless, don’t just appear as a name on a screen when everyone else is showing their face. Put on a hat and smile for the camera.

Frame the camera appropriately

Frame the camera appropriately

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Most video conference apps allow you to see a preview of how you will appear before you officially call in. Make sure that everything looks good and that you don’t have inappropriate items in your frame.

Ensure you have good lighting

Ensure you have good lighting

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You don’t live in a photo studio, and no one expects you to be perfectly lit. But make sure that you’re clearly visible and that you aren’t washed out or lurking in a shadow.

Keep backgrounds professional

Keep backgrounds professional

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If you’re keeping in touch with friends and family during coronavirus via video chats, you are totally free to have fun with your backgrounds. Talk in front of the guy from “Tiger King” or put yourself in Michael Scott’s office. But if you’re at work, just keep your regular backdrop as is — and make sure it’s clean.

Mute yourself when not speaking

Mute yourself when not speaking

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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. If you’re not the one speaking, mute your microphone.

Look into the camera

Look into the camera

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It isn’t always easy, but forgetting to make eye contact is one of those etiquette mistakes you need to stop making. In a digital setting, that means looking into the camera. This will also help you to focus on the meeting at hand.

Speak to the camera, not the screen

Speak to the camera, not the screen

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In addition to looking into the camera when listening to others, make sure you speak into your laptop camera. If you’re staring at yourself or speaking to the screen, it will look off to the others on the call.

Share your window, not your desktop

Share your window, not your desktop

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If you’re sharing your screen during a presentation, be sure to share your window, not your entire screen. Otherwise, private emails and messages could be shown to a wide audience.

Pay attention

Pay attention

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You wouldn’t text your friends, talk with your spouse or play video games during an in-person meeting, so don’t do it during a video meeting either. Remember proper etiquette and pay attention to the people in the meeting. And whatever you do, don’t just mute the meeting.

Engage

Engage

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If you’re meeting in person, it’s easy to show that you’re engaged through subtle social cues, like nodding your head and making direct eye contact. That isn’t necessarily possible during video conferences. Instead, be sure to engage with speakers. If a question is asked, answer.

Don’t multitask

Don’t multitask

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You may think that filling out a spreadsheet while listening in on a conference is one of the best ways to boost your productivity at work, but constantly switching between tasks and having only some focus on each item actually is less efficient.

Don’t interrupt others

Don’t interrupt others

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Even if you mean well, interrupting others is among the behaviors you may not realize are rude. That rule applies to video chats and conferences as well as the real world.

Use text chat functions

Use text chat functions

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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. And if you are using chat during a video call, make sure you know the other rules of online etiquette.

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