In this post, let us talk about online meeting etiquette because it is always a fun one. There are a ton of memes and very funny videos about online conference calls and some of the behaviors that you may observe. We will take a moment and look at a few online etiquette, or netiquette, tips because it is a little bit different meeting online than in-person.
Our first one is to be mindful of our video feed. I usually turn on my webcam because I think it is essential to make that connection, but you will want to be cognizant of how you dress. I know if we are working from home, we might be a little bit more casual, but be mindful of what you are wearing.
What is in your background is also important. If I have a whiteboard in the shot, I make sure it erased before I showed the camera. You will want to remove anything behind you that might be distracting. Some of the tools have options for Virtual Backgrounds or Background Blur. You might try enabling those features. Again, you want to be aware of what is being presented.
Then, of course, is the position of the camera. You don’t want it high looking down on you, or low looking up, or as you kind of move around, it can be very distracting. For example, if I move side to side, it just throws off the focus of the meetings. Just be aware of what is being transmitted there.
Also, announce yourself when you join the meeting. Most of the meeting tools will announce someone has entered the session with a buzzer, but it is helpful to welcome everybody, say, “Hi, this is [your name], I’m joining the call.”
The third and fourth ones – and probably the most critical – is knowing how to mute and unmute yourself. There can be a lot of background noise, depending on where you are in your home. You might have kids running in the background; you might be in a car – we highly recommend not facilitating Zoom or Skype for Business meetings while driving – you might be enjoying the nice day and sitting outside while the wind blowing. Knowing that you need to mute your microphone when you are not speaking to ensure any of that noise in the background is minimized. You will also want to be very quick to unmute when you go to talk. Be aware of where the mute button is located. On some systems, you can hold down the spacebar to unmute yourself temporarily to talk.
I can’t tell you how many times in meetings, someone is talking, but they are unaware that they are muted. They realize it, or someone mentions it, and then you get the whole, “Wait… I was on mute, sorry. Let me repeat that.” It throws off the flow of the meeting.
Number five is to be present during the meeting. It is very easy to get distracted and “multitask” when you are in an online meeting. It is easy to be pulled into your email, or into another tool, or instant messaging, or some other distraction – so be present. Hopefully, if you were sitting across from someone at a conference table, you would not allow yourself to be distracted with those things. Yet, for some reason, we allow ourselves to succumb to those distractions when it is an online meeting. Be mindful of that and minimize those disruptions. Try turning off those notifications and be present and engage in the meeting.
Remember, if you are having any challenges with the technology (the webcam, audio, or video), your phone can be a perfect backup device for joining those meetings. Most smartphones can run both the Skype for Business and the Zoom app. Depending on what type of meeting you are trying to join, those apps can make it easy. Another option is to simply call into a meeting with your phone to hear the audio.
If you have any questions or concerns about online meetings, please feel free to contact the IT Help Desk, and they can assist.