Virtual Meeting Etiquette

As the modern spins and more and more of us attend virtual meetings, its time that we started treating the virtual meeting with a little dignity for our fellow virtual attendees. We seem to have forgotten the rules of gathering because of the remoteness and physical detachment that the digital world has created in our minds.

We are not alone or detached as we think we are. We only act as if we are. We act as if no one else can see us or its okay to interface the way we do.

Over the course of a few years, especially these past months, virtual communications, gatherings and conversations have become common place. Unfortunately, our sense of etiquette has been almost forgotten.

I have seen things that were quite unprofessional, improper and definitely politically incorrect. What are we thinking people? Why have we allowed the lack of common courtesy to be abandon, even no in our greatest moment of need… for normality.

Its time to reestablish some protocols of decency, virtual meeting etiquette and plain everyday common practices of how we interact through the digital channels like Zoom, Teams, WebEx and so many others. We need a modern version of Emily Post to guide us through the do’s and don’t’s of virtual meetings.

I have search the vast internet looking for some points and inclusions into this idea of etiquette. Jere are some of the ones I can speak to directly.

  1. Stop looking Down at Others:

We all have done this. We sit in front of our laptops and our desk computers and look down into the camera as we attend meetings. This angle that maybe comfortable or convenient to use project a completely different look than expected or ever that we are aware of. From the other side of the lens, we appear to be that of overseers scanning over the masses. It is as if a parent standing over a child in some display of dominance.

Stop looking down at others and raise your point of view to that of eye level. Put a box or something to raise the height of your camera so that we are talking eye-to-eye and on equal level. Be considerate of your fellow attendee. Be an equal.

2. Houston, we have a problem.

Loose the over-sized head sets with the old fashion boom microphone. We are not controllers at NASA space center trying to hear astronauts circling the Earth. We’re in a meeting with high quality audio and streaming video. If the space you’re in is too noisy, then its time to reconsider your virtual meeting space.

Find a quieter location where the sounds of the surrounding area are not so distracting. I realize that this maybe a bit more complicated at times, so I would also suggest investing in some good quality earplugs with incorporated microphones if you really need to block out the noise from around you.

Another suggestion when wearing earplugs, especially wired ones, is to run the cording down your back. The looping back to the computer or tablet won’t be seen below eye level. You get sound with out everyone getting the wires or seeing struggle with the wires as you type on the keyboard.

That brings me to number 3.

3. Clickety Clack, Clickety Clack Goes the Train… of Thought.

Please stop typing as you are attending a meeting. We can see you are not paying attention are you have found something more important to do. Be present and listen as others are speaking. I go back to courtesy is dead and typing while people are discussing issues, even if you are muted, distracts others and conveys that what they are saying is not very important to you.

There are times when it would be allowed, like taking dictation, meeting notes for the group or managing the upcoming content that everyone will see next. Even responding to a question with chat messaging is allowable if so requested, but please, please no more clickety clack, clickety clack.

If you have to take notes to remind you, use paper and pen. Even if people see you writing, they will have the impression you find their conversation valuable and you want to capture their thoughts and ideas down.

4. Don’t Go Into The Light…

Don’t sit with your back to a light source. This is not a detective story and you require your identity to remain unknown. News flash my friend, your name shows up in your image box. Your cover is blown.

Use a light source that illuminates your face. Use your computer’s camera software to test how you look with proper lighting. Avoid bright overhead lighting, especially if you’re like me where reflections from the cranium create solar flairs on video. Bring the lighting down a bit lower and a bit back away from the work space. This will help diffuse the light and avoid hot spots. If possible, reposition your seating so you face a window, allowing the natural light to bath in your beauty.

Remember, stay away from the light and keep it in front of you at all times.

These are just a few of the many pieces of virtual meeting etiquette guides I have found. If you have others and can ex[lain why theyshould be considered, please comment below and I just may add them to the list.

Thank you again and I virtually see you again.

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