Etiquette for Virtual Meetings

Woman in virtual meeting

Set up a virtual meeting agenda.

Start with a clear agenda for the meeting, including talking points, dial-in numbers and access codes, relevant documents, and action items to be completed before the meeting begins. A simple schedule can end up saving teams a substantial amount of time. Instead of waiting for someone to take the lead, you can get right to the point. 

As part of the agenda, consider circulating guidelines and expectations. For example, you could suggest that everyone who isn’t talking mute their audio to minimize distractions. Alternatively, you could list rules for speaking, so you don’t get a situation where five people are trying to talk over one another without any recognized order. 

Always be respectful of your colleagues’ time. Your coworkers might have several meetings planned sequentially, so try not to go over time. Plan an end time for the meeting and stick to it. Constraining the meeting’s length will encourage members to be as efficient and concise as possible.

Test your tech.

You should also test any presentations to ensure your technology cooperates before the meeting. There’s nothing worse than showing up to a meeting and learning your webcam has decided to revolt. Many programs have simple tests you can run to ensure your microphone and camera are functioning properly.

Ask laptop users to plug into an outlet to make sure they do not lose battery power during the call. Similarly, ask everyone to be in a place with good Wi-Fi or cellphone service. Dropped calls and frozen video frames are never fun. These recommendations may seem simple, but they’re vital to an efficient remote meeting. When discussing critical issues in a virtual meeting, technology failures should be the last thing on your mind.

How to boost engagement during virtual meetings.

During virtual meetings, you’ll want to keep attendees engaged. One way to capture the attention of the participants is to collaborate on documents in real time. That way, everyone can visually understand what’s being discussed. Similarly, the presenter can share his or her screen to help walk the group through the presentation. Screen-sharing can be especially helpful for presentations and demonstrations. 

Keeping your audience engaged can be challenging, even under normal circumstances. Over a third of people stop paying attention once meetings run over 45 minutes. Virtual meetings offer even more opportunities to lose focus, as participants might be secretly checking social media, making a sandwich, or playing with their dog. It’s up to you to capture the attention of your attendees. 

Here are a few additional tips to boost engagement during virtual meetings: 

  • Introduce yourself—Ask attendees to introduce themselves, give a tour of their surroundings, and notify the team of any potential visitors—like a dog or cat—that might join in and make a guest appearance. We’re all used to a few interruptions, especially following COVID-19. Have a sense of humor about the unpredictability of remote work

  • Ask questions—Make sure people know you may ask them to contribute. Calling on attendees can be especially important, as you can hear opinions from introverts and key personnel who may be too shy to share on their own.  

  • Assign tasks—Hold people accountable for note taking, minute keeping, or slideshow controlling. That way, attendees will be more motivated to keep paying attention. 

Virtual meeting etiquette.

If your team is new to virtual meetings, you’ll encounter some hurdles as everyone gets used to the new normal. Even after proper planning and trying to boost engagement, your meeting’s success depends on how the participants behave. 

How are you expected to act? What should you absolutely not do? To help make all participants comfortable, below are some best practices for virtual meeting etiquette.

What to do during virtual meetings.

In addition to the points we’ve already discussed, follow these tips for a quality virtual meeting:

  • Don’t be afraid to mute. Mute your microphone when you’re not speaking to eliminate ambient noises (coughing, traffic, a barking dog) that will distract everyone else in the meeting. Plus, turn off phone notifications, so your colleagues don’t hear a constant buzzing in the background.

  • Dress to impress. Dress as you would for the office. Make sure your background is professional, too. If your home office doesn’t have much natural light, consider getting a lamp to appear more professional.

  • Inform the household. Let everyone in your home know that you’re going to be in a meeting so they can monitor their noise level and avoid interrupting you.

  • Designate signals. Create a cue to indicate when you’ve finished speaking. When multiple participants are on a call or chat together, it can be difficult to tell when someone is done speaking and it is time for the next person to jump in.

  • Come prepared. Read the agenda, come with questions, and be ready to participate as necessary. 

  • Watch the camera. Try to look at the camera instead of yourself to appear like you’re talking to the attendees.

What to avoid doing during meetings.

Now that you know what to do in virtual meetings, let’s review what not to do. 

  • Avoid eating during the meeting. You’ll distract yourself (and others).

  • Don’t multitask. Avoid looking at your phone, opening new browser windows, or watching TV in the background. Multitasking will shift your focus from the topic at hand.

  • Avoid interrupting others. If the organizer has set a cue to indicate when the next person should begin, be sure to respect that cue. Sometimes, video has a time delay—be sure to pay attention as others speak before it is your turn.

  • Don’t exclude others. Try to prevent extroverted team members from overshadowing introverted team members. Make plans for one-on-one conversations, as needed, with those who are less likely to speak up in a group setting.

After the meeting.

After your meeting is over, take a moment to review key takeaways and action items. Did you cover everything on the agenda? When will the next meeting be scheduled? What topics do you need to discuss at the next meeting?

If you assigned any deliverables during the meeting, when are they due? Who is responsible?

Post-meeting feedback is also essential. Be sure to ask attendees for feedback to improve future meetings.

As remote work becomes more common, efficient virtual meetings are becoming increasingly crucial. Displaying proper etiquette can help ensure everyone can collaborate effectively.

Popular virtual meeting programs.

Now that you know how to run effective virtual meetings, you’ll need to select your tool of choice. Here are a few of the most popular options. 

  • Zoom Meetings offers paid and free plans. Free plans can host up to 100 participants, with a 40-minute time limit for group meetings.

  • GoToMeeting offers a free 14-day trial. After the free trial, plans start at $14 a month and can accommodate up to 150 participants. 

  • Skype is free for up to 50 participants and has built-in file sharing and messaging capabilities.

  • Google Hangouts is a free, browser-based program that’s ideal for small teams of up to 10 participants.

Software solutions like Workfront Fusion also integrate their current work management software with virtual meeting programs. 

Become a virtual meeting superstar.

With remote work on the rise, developing stellar virtual meeting skills will help set you up for success. You’ll be better able to impress your dream employer in an interview, train new employees, and win new business on sales calls. By following the guidelines in this article, you’ll be a virtual meeting superstar in no time. 

See Workfront in action

In this interactive tour, you will get hands-on experience using Workfront. You will learn how Workfront enables the enterprise to:

  • Connect strategy to delivery
  • Iteratively plan and prioritize work
  • Collaborate across teams and divisions to get work done
  • Streamline and optimize processes
  • Measure and report on progress
  • Deliver against your strategy