Etiquettes and Rules of Video Conferencing
05/05/2020 — by Doris Lam
By Doris Lam
With working from home becoming the new norm during the COVID-19 outbreak, companies around the world have shifted their day to day operations and communications methods. Teleconferencing software and collaboration platforms such as Zoom, Slack and Microsoft have seen large spikes in usage as the COVID-19 pandemic keeps workers from going back to the office.
However, just because you’re working from home does not mean there are no work etiquettes to follow. Video conferences have replaced all in-person team or client meetings, making these calls valuable opportunities to show professionalism and connect with each other. To fully make use of video conferencing during this time, here are the top etiquettes and rules of video conferencing to help you become the best remote worker.
Choose the right software
If you’re the one holding the meeting, make sure the video-conferencing software is easily accessible to everyone. Do people need to download the software beforehand in order to use it? How easy is it for everyone to join the conference call? Does it have the functions that you need? A password to login to the meeting room?How many people are able to be in the call at one time? Are there any past security breaches with this software? List out your video conferencing needs and read up on software reviews to find the one best suited for you.
Familiarise yourself with the software
Whether it’s a brand new video-conferencing application that you’ve never used before or one that you use regularly, make sure you know how to use the application beforehand.
Double-check that your software is up to date. Make sure your meeting links or IDs are working and video camera and microphones are connected to the app. Overlooking any one of these details may cause unnecessary hiccups in your meeting.
Get a good mic
A good, clear microphone is one of the most important things to have during video conferences. No one likes a fuzzy mic that picks up the faintest background noise. So make sure you give your equipment a test run before an important meeting. It’s always smart to keep a pair of back up earphones with an attached microphone around in case your trusty earphones or computer mic fails you mid-way during the call.
Send out invites and reminders
To avoid last-minute scheduling conflicts, send out invites at least a week ahead of time. Then send out email reminders with the meeting link to all meeting participants a day beforehand. This way they won’t have to dig through pages of email to find the link.
Coordinate with family/ roommates
If you share your home with family members or roommates, let them know beforehand that a meeting will be happening. You may be in a tight living space and need the living room during meeting hours for a cleaner background. Or you may be hoping that they will be more mindful about their kitchen noises in order for you to concentrate. Whatever it is, communicate what you need from them ahead of time to sort out a workable arrangement.
Be On Time
Just because you’re not physically in a meeting room with everyone doesn’t mean the usual meeting rules don’t apply. Show respect to coworkers and clients by joining the call on time. If you’re the one hosting the meeting, open the video conferencing room 10-15 minutes ahead of time in case anyone might have questions before the meeting or to simply to show you’re on top of your game.
Wear Work-Appropriate Clothing
As comfortable as you are working at home, consider changing into work-appropriate attire before a meeting. This will maintain your professional image in front of your coworkers and clients. Work-life boundaries may be a bit blurred while working from home. That why it’s even more important to establish a separation between your work self and home self to find some work-life balance.
You may be tempted to check emails, scroll through Instagram, or even sneak off to heat up those leftovers you can’t stop thinking about, as your coworker gives his presentation. Resist the urge. It’s disrespectful to coworkers, especially when they ask you for your input. Turn off notifications on your phone and computer before the meeting in order to keep the distractions at bay.
The mute button is your friend
Got a noisy family member? Move around in your seat a lot? Finishing up your morning sandwich? The microphone picks everything up. Hit the mute button regardless of how quiet you think you are whenever you’re not speaking. This will help to avoid distracting everyone else in the meeting. If you’re the meeting facilitator, you could even consider asking everyone to mute their mics right up front. That whoever is speaking with be heard loud and clear without any background noises clouding the virtual room.
Take advantage of the software features
Regardless of the size of the meeting, it’ can be hard to give everyone an equal opportunity to speak. During virtual meetings, obvious indicators, like body language aren’t easily shown through a screen. That’s where some of the video conferencing software features come in. Applications such as Zoom allow users to “raise their hand” during calls to indicate that they have something to say. The chatbox can also be used to easily gather votes when making team decisions. Making use of these features will make for smoother virtual meetings.
This article does not constitute legal advice.
The opinions expressed in the column above represent the author’s own.