Online Meeting Etiquette: Rules All Professionals Should Know

In the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a large number of people have had to make the transition to working from home—and keep in touch with their teams via video conferencing. Here are a few etiquette rules that all workers should know.

1. Dress professionally

It can be tempting to throw on a button-down over your pajama bottoms—and we’ve all seen memes of that reporter on a video conference call with a professional shirt on top and underwear on the bottom. That’s why it’s better to get fully dressed for video calls.

It may not be likely that anyone will see you from the waist down, but why risk it? Your camera angle may reveal more than you think, or you might have to get up unexpectedly. Make sure you’re fully and appropriately dressed just in case.

2. Don’t show your mess

Most of us are a little uncomfortable with how much of our personal lives our co-workers and bosses see when we have to do a video call. Still, it’s important to make sure what they see is generally work-appropriate. For instance:

  • Don’t place yourself so your bed can be seen—it’s a little too intimate. (Especially if it isn’t made).
  • Clean up any clutter or move it out of frame.
  • Keep closet doors closed.
  • Move any X-rated artwork out of frame.

3. Be aware of distractions

Parents are trying to handle work and family obligations at the same time during the pandemic, and everyone understands you’re stretched thin.

Sometimes family distractions are unavoidable. However, while a toddler interrupting your meeting may have been cute at the beginning, your coworkers’ patience may be strained if it keeps happening.

Try to pick a space in your house with a door that closes, and arrange with your spouse to spell each other for childcare when one of you has a video conference call, if possible.

4. Mute your microphone until it’s your turn to talk

Sound interference can be a big problem in online conference calls, and it’s even more difficult for people to talk over each other and be understood in this medium.

The best way to handle it is to mute your microphone unless it’s your turn to talk. This can also help you block out any ambient noise going on in your house.

5. Introduce yourself

When you’ve just joined a small meeting—say, ten or fewer people—speak up and introduce yourself. Otherwise that ding announcing you will hang over an obvious silence, which can be a bit awkward.

The pandemic has changed the way we work for the time being—and for now at least, online meetings are the new normal. With these etiquette tips, you should be able to create a good impression online.

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