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Virtual Meeting Etiquette Every Professional Should Know

Meetings are sufficiently challenging when the participants are all in the same room. As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread, few industries remain unscathed – and virtual meetings have become an essential part of how modern businesses maintain productivity and continuity. That means that almost any meeting that you have today will probably have at least one person attending from a remote location.

Why There are Virtual Meeting Etiquette Rules?

Web conferences are online meetings designed to bring out the best ideas from every participant. Standard rules provide the meeting etiquette and will assist in the process by respecting everyone’s time and ideas as well as by providing a consistent framework for mission critical agenda items to be addressed and resolved. Standard rules also provide the structure that promotes the values of the company.

How Can We Effectively Apply Virtual Meeting Etiquette Rules?

The best path to success for your meeting is usually by providing the list of ground rules to your group before starting the meeting. Don’t surprise people at the start of the meeting by issuing demands that may be impossible to meet without notice.

Here are a few simple suggestions for virtual meeting etiquette rules and tips that will help ensure the success of any meeting or conference.

  1. Be Prepared. Come to the meeting with a positive attitude. Please review the meeting agenda and any attached documents before the start of the meeting. Be prepared to discuss the issues and offer solutions.
  2. Dress appropriately. Take a few minutes to throw on a clean shirt and brush your hair. The best part of actually getting ready while working remotely is that you’ll put yourself in the right headspace to be productive.
  3. Be aware of your surroundings. Adjust your work setup so that you face a window or are exposed to plenty of light. And make sure your background is professional and work appropriate. No beds (unmade or made) in the background. No messy rooms or open closets where everyone can see your clutter. No NSFW artwork.
  4. Be on time. We promise to start and end the meeting according to the times on the agenda. All the panel and speaker MUST be ready at least 15 minutes earlier to stand by and do testing on the laptop’s microphone and camera.
  5. No food allowed. Try to eat a snack before your virtual meeting. No one wants to see you stuff your face with chips while discussing important business matters. Not only is it distracting to others, you won’t be able to focus on the task at hand because you’ll be worrying about dropping crumbs all over your keyboard.
  6. Identify yourself. Before you start to speak, please state your name so we know who is talking. Everyone might not recognize your voice.
  7. Speak clearly and concisely. Please try not to talk over another speaker. If there are multiple participants, people tend to talk at the same time – making conversations extremely difficult to understand. Try to speak one at a time so that we can follow your point in its entire.
  8. Mute yourself. Background noise disrupts the meeting for everyone and might prevent us from hearing the information that we need. Choose a quiet location – away from pets, children, etc. Turn off the TV and any music. There is a mute button on your phone for a reason. The mute button is your friend. Use the mute button when you are not speaking.
  9. Everyone Must Participate. Be candid. Speak your mind. Everyone in the meeting is expected to share ideas, ask questions, and contribute to the discussions. You must share your perspective and speak honestly.
  10. Silence Means Agreement. An important corollary of Ground Rule 3. If you remain silent, it means you agree. You cannot remain quiet only to later tell everyone that you disagreed all along.
  11. Do not multi-task. Stay mentally present. It is easy to get distracted on a conference call. But our objective is important and we need your full attention in order to meet the goals of the meeting. You were invited to this meeting because we believed you had something unique to contribute. If you feel your time can be better spent elsewhere, please let me know as soon as possible.
  12. No Waiting. Please disable your “Call Waiting” feature. The clicking noise you hear on your phone when another call comes in can also be heard by all of the other participants and will be distracting.
  13. Do not put this conference call on “Hold”. If your hold feature plays background music [and many do] and you leave the conference to answer another line or talk to someone else, the hold music will play and will disrupt our meeting. If you have to take another call, please hang up and re-join our meeting after you complete your other call.
  14. Stick to the agenda. Please try to stay focused. This conference has a specific purpose. Let’s stick to it.
  15. No one-on-one side conversations. All discussion is meant for everyone.
  16. Ask for clarification. If there is something that you don’t understand, please ask for clarification. If you don’t understand the issue or solution, then there are probably others that also don’t understand.
  17. Attack the problem, not the person. There will be differences of opinion. You will not agree with everything that is discussed. But please be open to hearing other people’s perspectives. If you don’t agree, respectfully challenge the idea – not the person. Blame and judgement gets us further from the solution, not closer. Honest and constructive discussions are needed to obtain the best results.
June 4, 2020
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