Remote work is here to stay. Due to the pandemic, many companies were forced to send employees home. And now that businesses have seen how much is saved on office rent and equipment, many are sticking with their remote policies even after the vaccine rollout. This means that online meetings will continue to be the norm, so it’s important to know how to act while participating in them. We’ve all had online meetings from hell – attendees speaking over each other, team members doing everything except focusing on what’s being discussed, and the list continues. But if everyone follows online meeting etiquette, web conferences will be more productive and less stressful:
Test Your Setup
We understand that sometimes technology doesn’t cooperate. Still, your team members don’t want to spend 10 minutes of their day waiting for you to figure out why your microphone isn’t working. Before starting an online meeting, always test your setup first. This includes your microphone, camera, and software. Also, make sure your computer isn’t going to automatically restart because of pending updates, and check whether your surroundings have good lighting so people can see you clearly. Fortunately, web conferencing software allows you to try out everything before you join a meeting.
Clean Up Your Background
Besides testing your setup, it’s also important to clean up your physical background. There’s nothing more distracting than seeing a team member’s dirty clothes in the frame. Of course, the best solution would be to have a dedicated home office room, but that isn’t always possible. So, make sure there’s no clutter and try to stop kids or pets from making a cameo appearance. Another option is to either blur your surroundings or use a virtual background – features that come with web conferencing apps like BlueJeans.
Join Online Meetings on Mute
Unless you’re the host, you never know for sure who may already have joined the meeting before you. In most cases, when you finally join the web conference, people are already speaking with each other. That’s why it’s always best to join the meeting on mute, so you can quietly get ready for the meeting. Still, you should always say ‘hi’ when you log in – just wait until the right moment, unmute yourself, and say hello to everyone.
It’s worth mentioning that your microphone should be on mute throughout the meeting. Only unmute yourself when you’re going to talk to minimize the risk of distracting your fellow attendees with background noises that you might be unaware of. It’s also a good idea to mute your phone, close the windows, and warn other people in the house that you’re going to start a meeting.
It’s tempting to quickly check your email during an online meeting – who’s going to notice? However, online meetings require everyone’s attention. Usually, they’re used to discuss a certain problem and, through teamwork, find a solution. And if you’re focused on other tasks, you won’t have much to add. Of course, there are times when you’re invited to meetings where your participation seems unnecessary. In this case, it’s best to discuss the agenda with the host and ask to be excused from the meeting.
When it comes to taking important notes, we recommend using software that either records online meetings or creates transcripts automatically, such as GoToMeeting. This way, you can go over what was discussed by revisiting the meeting later on.
Dress for the Occasion
One of the best things about working from home is that you can dress casually and no one will know. Even though you can spend all day in your PJs, it’s a good idea to tidy up when it’s time for an online meeting. Every company has a different dress code, so if you work for a formal business, don’t appear on Zoom wearing your favorite hoodie. Most importantly, make sure to wear pants. We’ve all seen those pictures from online interviews where interviewers are in their underpants. Although the bottom half doesn’t appear in the video, imagine if something happens and you need to get up in the middle of the meeting.
Don’t Interrupt Others
When you have a meeting in person, it’s easy to show that you want to add something to the conversation. That’s not the case for online meetings – especially if the host is sharing a PowerPoint presentation. The best way to get around this is by using software that comes with a ‘hands-up’ button, like Microsoft Teams. This shows everyone a signal that you want to speak, allowing the host to decide who should go next without interrupting anyone.
Online meetings are known for boosting productivity. But only if everyone is on the same page regarding web conferencing etiquette, as web conferences with multiple attendees can easily become a chaotic experience where no one understands each other.
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