6 etiquette rules for remote meetings

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Today’s etiquette has started developing during the Age of Enlightenment, in the 18th century, with businesspeople now following specific rules at in-person job interviews, business events, negotiations, and corporate meetings. 

But does the same etiquette still hold true after moving half of our business affairs online? We apply for jobs, negotiate deals, and conduct team meetings online, and for what it’s worth, it’s not going to disappear in the near future. Research shows that as much as 68% of Americans expect to continue working remotely sometime in the future, which means meeting new people and leaving first impressions in the virtual world. 

That leaves us with one big question to answer: what is the etiquette of remote meetings? 

Below are the six simple rules you should follow to make the best out of your virtual event. 

1. Plan your meeting ahead of time

If you manage a meeting, it’s crucial to have a plan set up before it starts. One of the most important practices in hosting a remote meeting is sending out a meeting schedule to its participants. To avoid participants feeling left out, make sure that all members understand their role and reason for participating. 

Having a set plan for the meeting is also helpful to prevent destructive multitasking. Remember, if one person starts multitasking, the other participants are likely to start doing it too.  Stick to a preset agenda, and don’t let the remote setup decrease your team’s productivity and the success of your meeting.

2. Understand your meeting platform

Moving to a virtual meeting comes with a need to encounter a lot of new meeting platforms and the surge of the existing ones. Reuters noted that when the pandemic started, the use of videoconferencing platforms increased 5 times. It doesn’t matter if you are organizing or attending a meeting; take some time to familiarize yourself with the user interface and platform functionality. 

Test before first use

Make sure to examine the software first if you’re going to use it soon. You can simply create a test meeting and ask a friend to join. Some of the most important functions that you should learn to use are: muting/unmuting your mic, controlling your camera, setting up your background, and sharing your screen. 

Sharing your screen has its own subtleties! If you plan to show a video during a meeting, be certain that you share your audio too, not just the screen. Usually, you have to manually check this box in the additional settings of your meeting platform, and that is not a default option.

If you manage an event, you should know how to let people in or permit unwanted people from joining (to avoid zoombombing!) It is vital to understand how to mute/unmute others, start breakout rooms, or use any other moderation functions available on the platform. 

If your friends can’t assist you, always consider looking for available tutorials. At Interactio, we offer not only a free demo presentation of our platform but also provide you with technical training afterward. 

Here’s a bonus etiquette tip: now, when you know which functions are essential, always join a meeting while being muted, but keep your camera on by default.

3. Use quality hardware

According to EPOS, low audio quality decreases efficiency and concentration at work. As much as 42% of survey respondents claim that they experience audio pain due to background noises. One out of three people mentioned that “repeating yourself” or “asking for information to be repeated” deteriorates comprehension too.

What is the best way to overcome such problems? The answer is simple - quality equipment.

There are two key equipment pieces for remote meetings: headphones and a microphone. Sometimes, manufacturers can integrate both of them into a single headset. 

Echoes frequently show up during meetings if you ignore a recommendation to use headphones. Even if you’re certain that your laptop can filter out background noises, we still recommend you to try a headset for better audio quality. 

4. Prepare your surroundings

Background: minimalistic or creative?

Many people think that their visual background for a meeting has to be as minimalistic as possible. However, this is not always the case. 

If you attend a job interview for a business position, your best background choice is a simple, single-colored wall. Sit in a minimalistic environment with an added software “background blur” function; such background will help you look professional.

But what if you’re attending a creative meeting? Consider choosing a background that says something about your personality. You shouldn’t be scared to show yourself in a virtual environment. One idea would be picking a background setting where others can take a look at your work.

Appropriate lighting

Test the way you look before turning the camera on to the whole audience. You can use natural or artificial lighting, but make sure that the light source (lamp or window) is in front of you, not on the side or back. Always try to avoid any shadows on the side of your face. 

Also, low-light conditions usually make you look pixelated and decrease the quality of your video stream. High-end cameras might help increase the quality, but they are costly, so always remember that appropriate lighting is a cost-effective and sustainable solution to your issue!

Things that are not seen on camera still matter

You never know when your roommate, partner, or child will enter the room. To avoid interruptions, put a note on your room door saying that you are attending a remote meeting. If you can’t prevent other people from walking in the background (e.g., in an open-office environment), kindly ask them to look professional and refrain from making loud noises. 

What’s more, research says that a clean environment will make you feel better. According to the  Anxiety and Depression Association of America, there is a connection between cleaning up and mental health. Tidying up your room before a meeting can help you increase concentration and reduce stress, anxiety feelings, depressive symptoms, and fatigue. 

5. Look professional

From the first glimpse, it might seem that we don’t have to put as much effort into preparing for remote meetings as we used to do in our in-person meetings. However, that is not exactly true! 

Being dressed appropriately is a key to reinforcing professionalism in a remote setting. Always get rest before important meetings, wake up in advance, do your hair, and prepare just as you would for an in-person meeting.

Bonus tip: don’t look at yourself too much! Recent survey by YouGovAmerica reports that a quarter of meeting participants spend the whole meeting watching themselves. Switch your attention to the colleagues to better connect with the topic. 

6. Focus on the meeting

Don’t leave the meeting platform’s window. Easier said than done! We know how tempting it might be to multitask, get distracted, and click on every platform feature while you’re not talking. However, wandering around the platform and surfing the web is just a sure way to decrease your attention span and hinder your productivity during the meeting. 

To stay more focused, use public and group chats to discuss meeting-related things only. Speakers will appreciate the on-topic discussion! 

Is there anything else regarding the etiquette of remote meetings?

Of course, this isn’t a complete list of requirements for remote meetings. Recent industry features confirm that workplaces still lack etiquette and ethics, and remote meetings add a whole new layer of requirements to the mix. 

Also, an important note! Don’t ignore traditional etiquette. Remote meetings simply ask for additional measures - not to negate the existing ones.

We’re on the edge of building a better virtual experience and remote meeting culture, so let’s make better meeting etiquette a reality. 

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Published on

Oct 15, 2021

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