With video conferencing now becoming such a major part of our lives, it’s important to learn appropriate virtual meeting etiquette. You don’t want to experience “Zoom shame” or embarrassment when in a virtual meeting with a large group of people.
Both video conferencing presenters and meeting attendees can help make virtual meetings a success by following some simple etiquette guidelines. While some of these may seem like “common sense,” far too often people dive into a meeting unprepared and end up disrupting things unnecessarily. Don’t be a “Zoom Zombie” and make the same mistakes out of ignorance or not paying attention!
Critical Advice: Get to Know Your Video Conferencing Software First!
The number one thing both video conference hosts and participants need to do before joining a call is to learn the software. While platforms as Zoom are designed for ease of use, they still have specific quirks and issues that pop up regularly.
A lot of people have the mistaken belief that they just don’t “get” technology and don’t have the capacity to learn how to use it better. Everyone can learn. Video conferencing apps are evolving and getting easier to use all the time. Just don’t throw yourself into a new app without bothering to try it out first, or at least read the manual or watch the tutorials.
To get the most out of a virtual meeting, take the time in advance to understand the software you will be using. Set up practice sessions with friends or coworkers if you need to. Go online to read and watch tutorials about the program.
The most important button to learn how to use is the mute button. (More on that in a bit.)
At CDS Technologies, we set up custom video conferencing solutions for our clients. We are happy to train your team on how to use the software.
Video Conferencing Etiquette for Participants
It should be common sense that you should avoid doing personal or private things on camera (like when a certain news reporter was caught literally with his pants down). But some basic video conference etiquette often escapes people. Here are a few tips for all virtual meeting participants:
1) Set up a clean video conferencing background
Try to free your background from distractions such as clutter, personal or inappropriate items, a TV that’s playing, and even other people. A screen or curtain may help. Most video conferencing apps have a background replacement feature, and while those are nice, starting with a sensible, real-world background is still ideal.
2) Sit in a professional viewing position
Positioning yourself and your device in a professional manner is important. Sit at a table or desk if possible. Don’t lay in your bed with your laptop in your lap—that’s not a flattering angle for anybody. You should also make sure your camera is in such a way that your face is centered and in-focus.
3) Keep your mic muted when not speaking
One of the number one critical tips is to STAY MUTED when you are not speaking. Nothing ruins a Zoom call more than someone who carelessly leaves their mic on and goes to wash dishes or, worse, starts a phone call while in a virtual meeting.
ALWAYS mute your mic when not speaking and make use of things like the “raise hand” and chat features to avoid speaking over somebody. Not all virtual meeting hosts will use the “raise hand” function so follow their instructions on asking questions.
4) Don’t abuse the chat function
Chat can be useful, but if you are peppering everyone with too many questions or comments, it can be distracting. And yes, when it comes to Zoom chat, there is such as thing as a “stupid question.” Hold your chatting for what is really critical.
5) Decide whether video is even necessary
Including your own video feed in a virtual conference is a nice gesture. Showing that you’re actively engaged in the presentation can be helpful and encouraging to your co-participants and presenters. However, dozens of active video streams can also be distracting and may even lead to bandwidth issues for some users. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons and determine whether video is required.
Virtual Meeting Tips for Presenters, Teachers, and Moderators
Know the software
All video conference calls go better with a well-prepared host. This means you should know the software like the back of your hand (see above). Familiarize yourself with the buttons, features, options, and everything else you might need during your presentation.
Moderating is important
Moderators should moderate, which means taking a proactive role and guiding the meeting. Instruct participants on procedures to follow to ask questions to avoid chaos. Clearly identify or call on specific people when opening the floor for discussion to avoid the chaos of everyone talking at once. Be clear on how and when chat should be used to avoid chat overload and chat chaos.
For larger meetings, delegate responsibilities
Having defined roles is helpful in larger meetings. These roles might include presenters/speakers, a moderator to field questions and guide discussion (even segue between presentations or segments), and someone assigned to monitor and respond to chat and so on. You might even consider having a dedicated person to corral participants. (Accept late arrivers, boot rude or unruly participants, mute audio or video if necessary, etc.)
Create and stick to a schedule
Keep meetings on time and don’t let technical issues (i.e., “I can’t open your email attachment”) or off-topic comments derail a group conversation. Direct people to email you about issues that don’t have to be handled in the call. Attendants to a virtual conference come in expecting to devote a specific amount of time to a specific presentation or discussion, and while it’s nearly impossible to account for all variables, it’s important to deliver an experience that meets expectations.
Follow the law
Meeting hosts should also be aware of laws or regulations regarding recording video or audio. Depending on where you—or your participants—are located, your video conferences may be subject to wiretapping laws. Many States in the US require all users to consent (often referred to as “two-party consent“) to being recorded. It is the responsibility of the person intending to record to ensure laws are followed!
By following these tips, you will have more successful virtual meetings. Good luck!
Does your business need help setting up virtual meeting systems? CDS Office Technologies has the expertise. Contact us today for a custom solution to meet your video conferencing needs.