6 Virtual Meeting Etiquette Tips For Successful Zoom Calls

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woman using etiquette working from home on a zoom meeting

Never in a million years did I think I would be talking about etiquette as it applies to a virtual meeting on a computer.

However, so many people are having business meetings using Zoom, Skype, or other online virtual meeting places that learning the proper etiquette is an important part of your job.

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What do you think of when you hear the word "etiquette"?

Does it make you think of white gloves and dresses, or ties and jackets? Maybe you think of Emily Post.

Etiquette, to me, means being polite, using good manners, and following the rules. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, etiquette also means "...following established rules or codes of conduct."

For instance, many religions have rules about what men and women should wear or not wear inside their buildings. Usually, specifically, about covering their head.

Restaurants may have certain requirements like dinner jackets, or opera theaters may have certain rules about watching a performance.

Here are 6 virtual meeting etiquette tips you need to know in order to keep your home office professional.

1. Organize your space.

Look at the area surrounding your desk, and ask yourself these questions:

  • What will the person viewing the space behind you see?
  • Is that what you want them to see?
  • Does it look professional?

If the background is not professional, upload a still image. There are ways to upload a background image that will hide the dirty coffee cups, children’s toys, and desk clutter.

If you were having a meeting at the office, you would probably go to a conference room or a central meeting table so the clutter around your personal space would not be a point of discussion.

In the past, you may even have arranged to meet a client for coffee or lunch. Since you aren’t meeting that way very much right now or at all, you can either make sure your space is cleaned up or hide it with a virtual background.

2. Pay attention to how you look.

Working from home has given a new meaning to "business casual." You're not dressing to go into an office, but you are dressing for work. Even if you're dressed casually, wear something that goes together.

If you move around your home office during a meeting, the computer camera may track your movement. You either want to be sure that your clothing is coordinated, or turn off the video feed before you get up from your desk.

Wash your face, brush your teeth, and be ready to face the day. The camera sees everything.

3. Make sure you're on mute.

Make sure that your audio is muted until it is your turn to speak.

There are always other, extraneous sounds which can cause feedback during a meeting. One way to avoid this is for you to stay muted until you have something to add to the conversation.

At my house, my dog Josie likes to join the conversation. She will often bark when she hears the chime alerting me that I’ve been let into the Zoom meeting room.

She will also bark at random dogs outside. I stay on mute so my colleagues don’t become distracted or annoyed by Josie’s barking.

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You may have something similar at your house. Don’t let the background noises at your home enter into your business meeting. Use good zoom etiquette and mute yourself.

Another tip is to use headphones. If you're sharing the home office space with your children or partner, they may be able to tune out your voice but may be completely distracted by the other people in your meeting.

4. Turn off your camera if you're multitasking.

If you're not leading the meeting and are listening but also taking care of other small tasks, show good manners and turn off your video. You can be seen by the presenter and others, maybe everyone, depending on how many people are attending the meeting.

Don’t let your actions distract the presenter or others at the meeting. Turn off the camera.

You can put your profile picture up on the screen, instead. When you’ve finished what you’re doing, turn the camera back on.

Generally speaking, I'm not a fan of multi-tasking. Research shows your brain is wired to do one thing well at a time.

This means if you're doing something else, you're probably not paying close attention to what's being said at the meeting. Try not to multi-task too often!

5. Keep your camera at eye-level.

Have your camera at eye level if you're leading the meeting, or if you're planning on keeping your camera on the whole time.

This way, it doesn’t seem as if you are either looking up at everyone or down at them. You are looking at the people attending the meeting directly, just as if you were there in person.

6. Limit background distractions.

Let your partner know you have a virtual meeting scheduled, so they're forewarned and will be wearing a complete set of clothes if they happen to pass by the computer.

If you have young children in your family, chances are they'll interrupt your meeting at some point, if not today then maybe another day.

If your home office is in a separate room, you can put a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door. Be sure to explain what it means to your children.

Children being children means they'll probably forget and walk in, anyway. Just roll with it.

Answer their question. Let them know that you will get whatever it is they need soon, and get back into your meeting.

Everyone will understand. Most people will probably think your children are adorable.

Besides, this is life. Stuff happens. Computers freeze, connections are sometimes unreliable, and life goes on. Interruptions from children provide a little levity and almost everyone needs to smile more.

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Diane N. Quintana is a certified professional organizer who focuses on chronic disorganization. She’s also a master trainer and the owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. Diane teaches busy people how to become organized and provides them with strategies and solutions for maintaining order in their lives.