As a remote worker, it's essential to practice virtual meeting etiquette.
Our meetings should be a useful and engaging part of our workday, not a waste of time. And virtual meeting etiquette is much more than wearing suitable clothing above the waistline! It's a key component for unlocking collaborative and productive outcomes in your organization.
This is what you need to know about virtual meeting etiquette.
What Is Virtual Meeting Etiquette?
In meetings, etiquette refers to the expected behavior of its attendees. These are actions that are considered "acceptable" and "unacceptable" within a specific meeting context. And this context is determined by company culture, your role in the company, and the meeting purpose.
Managing these behavioral expectations is important for a few reasons:
- It improves communication.
- It builds rapport and mutual respect.
- It creates an environment where everyone feels heard and comfortable sharing their opinions.
Online you’ll find tons of information on how to conduct virtual meetings, including technical tips and tools to use. But first, it's important to have the right mindset.
Mindset Shift For Upholding Meeting Etiquette
Every time you have a virtual meeting, remember this: Treat the meeting as if it were in-person.
If you go into meetings with this mindset, you will bring more respect and collaboration to the conversation. If you're attending an in-person meeting, it’s obvious not to scroll through social media, text your friends, or eat a sandwich.
This mindset encourages you to remember the golden standard of meeting etiquette: treat others the way you’d like to be treated.
Now, here are the best practices that will set you up for success.
8 Etiquette Tips For Virtual Meetings
Etiquette will vary based on the context of each meeting. So use these tips as a guidepost, not the “end all, be all.”
1. Prepare an agenda
Meeting etiquette starts with preparation. And preparation starts with an agenda.
A meeting agenda outlines the purpose of each meeting. It guides attendees through important topics, keeps everyone focused on priorities, and improves the flow of communication.
If you’re the meeting host, be sure to create this ahead of time and share it with everyone attending. And if you’re a meeting participant, don’t be afraid to request the agenda beforehand.
This is the core notion of mutual respect. By not having an agenda, you’re almost guaranteeing that you won’t be maximizing the use of your time. A meeting without an agenda is like building a house without a blueprint. There’s no vision. And as a result, you waste everyone’s time.
2. Look your best, feel your best
Although you’re not attending an in-person meeting, it’s still important to appear professional.
How you decide to “show up” in your virtual meeting will largely depend on your work culture and the meeting context. You may have team meetings that are more casual, or perhaps you're meeting with an investor where professional attire is required. Use discernment.
General guidelines for taking care of your appearance include:
- Be dressed suitably. If you’re ONLY dressed above the waist level, do so at your own discretion and be sure to turn off your video if you stand up!
- Groom yourself. Does it look like you just jumped out of bed and entered the conference room? A little effort goes a long way.
Taking care of your appearance communicates professionalism and a willingness to contribute value to the conversation. And by getting ready for a meeting, you'll be putting yourself in a professional headspace.
3. Prime your environment before the meeting
A simple way to ensure good meeting etiquette is to spend 5-10 minutes priming your environment beforehand.
Here are a few things to consider:
- Technology. Make sure that your conferencing platform is ready for the meeting. Check your audio and visual settings. And make sure all relevant applications are open and ready—notetaking tools, project management software, etc.
- Workspace environment. Make sure your background is appropriate to the meeting context—this can range from casual to professional. Check your lighting. And if you live in a house with others, notify them that you’ll be in a meeting so no one disrupts you.
- Materials and resources. Prepare all relevant content, materials, and resources before the meeting. This is especially important if you plan to share information with the meeting attendees.
Ritualize this step and commit yourself to prime your environment before the meeting. You’ll set yourself up to have a productive conversation where you’re not wasting anyone’s time.
4. Don’t be late, and end on time
Proper meeting etiquette requires that you be punctual and don’t go over the scheduled time.
Punctuality signals dependability and mutual respect. If you’re always late to meetings, over time you’ll build a reputation for taking people’s time for granted.
Similarly, make sure to end the meeting on time. Everyone’s time is valuable—so be mindful of the clock and stick to the agenda.
5. Be friendly and introduce yourself
The first few minutes of a meeting can be awkward.
When entering the conference room, it’s good meeting etiquette to be friendly and greet everyone. Of course, you’ll want to socially calibrate to make sure you’re not interrupting someone or disrupting a conversation. But when the opportunity is right, announce your presence.
If you’re the host and the attendees don’t know each other, encourage the room to introduce themselves.
6. Be present and avoid distractions
A professional who displays great meeting etiquette is completely present and avoids distractions.
Someone who’s distracted is easy to spot in an in-person meeting. But it’s harder to spot them in virtual meetings, making it tempting to check email or scroll through social media. But there’s a cost to this.
You won't be able to add value to the conversation if you're unfocused or distracted. In essence, you're saying you'd rather be somewhere else. This communicates disrespect and makes collaboration difficult. It’ll be tough to reach productive meeting outcomes, and you’ll be contributing to unhealthy work culture.
Here are some tips for being present and avoiding distractions:
- Speak clearly and concisely.
- Don’t interrupt and know when to speak.
- Close unnecessary tabs on your computer.
- If it’s a large group meeting, use the chat function.
- Keep your microphone on mute whenever you’re not talking.
- Try to minimize fidgeting and excessive movement, as it can be distracting.
- Put your phone out-of-sight so you’re not distracted by incoming texts and notifications.
- Eating and drinking may be distracting, so make sure it’s acceptable within the meeting context.
Being more present and engaged in the meeting creates a win-win for everyone.
7. Protect private information
Be committed to protecting everyone’s private information.
This is most relevant when you’re sharing your screen during a meeting. Before the meeting, make sure all private information is removed from all tabs, windows, and apps.
Allowing this to happen is simply unprofessional. And if someone's private information gets leaked, you'll lose everyone's trust.
8. Give everyone a final word, if appropriate
In order to build mutual respect and improve communication, it's important to give everyone a chance to share their final thoughts about what was discussed.
It won't be possible to do this for all meetings. But if the meeting is small enough and everyone’s still good on time, allow everyone 20 - 30 seconds to share their remarks.
This creates an environment where meeting attendees feel heard and ensures everyone’s on the same page. And as a host, it communicates that you value other people’s opinions.
Virtual meeting etiquette is essential for remote work and busy professionals. It improves relationships, collaboration, and organizational success.
Undock gives busy people the perfect balance of control, convenience, privacy, and etiquette. Our CEO and founder Nash explains how Undock works: