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Etiquette Tips for Video Chats and Meetings

Well, here we are in the age of corona virus and social distancing. We have had very little get together’s in-person with friends, family or co-workers. I had my share of video chats with family and professionals over the last 60 – 80 days, and I think we need to cover a little bit of etiquette here.

Let’s cover most common sense items first.. Please avoiding eating and drinking (yes, these sounds are amplified), mind your body language (you are on camera after all), and being respectful to whoever is speaking – a good rule of thumb is to be on mute until you need to add to the conversation.

Recently, I have had the opportunity to be on a business call with a few associates. They had not only forgotten that they can be seen, but also have walked away during a conversation. You are left wondering if they are paying attention at all. I had someone walk over and make themselves a plate full of food, and then proceed to eat it on camera during the call.

Better yet, I just watched a zoom call on social media yesterday from a group meeting where one individual did not know he could be heard, and proceeded to insult other attendees in the meeting and also indicate to someone in his home that he felt the meeting was a waste of his time using very vulgar words. Yikes! Cringe worthy and hurt feelings all the way around.

This is a new way to communicate and bring us together, and can be a lifesaver in times like this. Whether it’s checking in on your parents, your grandparents, your siblings, your neighbors or your friends. It’s great to see them if we can’t meet in person. But please remember to mind your manners.

Good Meeting etiquette includes being on time, maintaining eye contact, paying attention, and being engaged in the conversation just like when we meet for cotillion in person. Remember to apply those same principles to your video meetings. The following tips are brought to you from Zoom!

1. Make sure to introduce everyone at the beginning.

Just like a real meeting or social event, you wouldn’t initiate a conversation between two acquaintances who haven’t met without introducing them. The same practice applies to a virtual meeting. Be sure to introduce all parties you are hosting at the beginning to create a welcoming environment and stimulate engagement.

2. Ensure that you have a clean, work-appropriate background.

You want your attendees’ focus to be on the meeting content, not your messy office or your amazing art collection. By having a clean setting with work-appropriate art and decorations, you reduce the chance that attendees will get distracted. You should also try to attend the meeting from a quiet area that has minimal background noise and movement. Zoom’s virtual background feature is an easy way to eliminate background distractions when you have to meet in a messy or busy location.

3. Look into the camera when talking instead of looking at yourself.

If you’re looking at yourself on the screen while you’re talking, it will seem like your attention is elsewhere. Direct eye contact into the camera while speaking gives attendees the impression that you are looking at them rather than off to the side, which creates an environment where everyone feels engaged and present in the conversation. Be sure to position your web camera and monitor at eye level so you can look into the camera and simulate that eye-to-eye connection with other attendees.

4. Eliminate distractions and focus on the agenda.

Notifications from messaging applications, ringtones, and applications running on your desktop can be distracting, which can make your attendees feel disrespected and undervalued. Mitigating these distractions helps keep the meeting focused and free from interruption.

5. Be aware of your audio and video settings.

Check whether your microphone is unmuted and that your camera is on to ensure that all attendees can hear you and see you when you speak. If you notice that someone in the meeting is speaking but their microphone is muted, you can alert them that they are muted by requesting that they unmute their audio in the Manage Participants tab. You also can manage how you start and join meetings — with video on, entering a meeting muted, etc. — in your Zoom Meeting Settings.

6. Only invite meeting participants who need to be there.

Inviting co-workers who don’t need to participate or make decisions can be detrimental to the quality of the meeting. Because you can send other stakeholders a summary of the meeting via Zoom Chat, you can limit the attendee list and keep the meeting streamlined. As an invitee, make sure to review any meeting invites you receive to determine whether you actually need to attend. If not, request a recording of the meeting or a summary to get the info you need.

7. If you’re the host, stick around.

The general rule for meeting hosts: Wait until everyone else has left the meeting before hanging up, so attendees can leave at their own pace and get any final words in before disconnecting. Zoom will assign an alternate host if the original host exits first, but it’s not a good look. A host leaving everyone else in the meeting is much like bailing on your own party.

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