Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a meteoric rise in the number of video calls and web meetings held on a daily basis. The popular online meeting app Zoom has become a daily resource for some. According to Business of Apps, in December of 2019 the peak number of daily meeting participants was around 10 million. Fast forward to March 2020, with the pandemic in full effect, Zoom peak daily meeting participants reach 300 million. That is an incredible increase that is likely to remain for years to come, with many companies announcing the move to increase remote work and video calls becoming the new normal for everything from health visits to work calls. And while Zoom has clearly emerged as the fan favorite, there are a variety of video platform options, from Google Hangouts to Microsoft Teams. The online meeting format is one that has become widely adopted and will be here for the foreseeable future, which brings me to the purpose of this post… we need to talk about online live meeting etiquette.
Video meetings allow us to connect with one another when an in-person meeting isn’t feasible. Due to the nature of having an online meeting, many things you would do in a regular meeting get very relaxed. And it’s clear when it comes to video meetings, some people are getting too relaxed. Let’s check out the rules of the road for navigating a video call.
Be Comfortable – but be Careful
Yes, working from home absolutely means you don’t have to get all dressed up for the day. In fact, for the first couple weeks of this pandemic I wore basketball shorts and a t-shirt every day, and it was bliss! If you have the luxury of not having to enable video on your laptop for your meeting, great, more power to you. For those of us who have to be on video, don’t feel the need to dress up, but keep it comfortable and presentable. Be comfortable, but be careful, you are at work – just a more relaxed workplace. And just remember that choosing to go pants-less is a bold and high-stakes move if the UPS driver comes to the door and you need to exit your desk.
Control Your Environment
There is nothing worse than sitting through a video meeting while hearing someone’s dog bark constantly. A close second would be to have someone’s kids constantly interrupting or yelling at each other. I love my kids, but they know when I close the door to the office, they cannot interrupt unless there is blood. Before you start your online meeting, check your surroundings. Put up a do not disturb sign while you are in a meeting so that everyone knows you can’t be interrupted. Take your dog outside for the duration of the meeting. Do what you can to control your environment so that the experience is good for everyone. And keep in mind that while there is grace for the occasional distraction, a habit of distractions is a clear compromise to your work ethic and commitment to the job.
Remember…You are on Camera!
Just because you are at home doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want during a video meeting. Most companies want to see their employees during a meeting, but there are things that they don’t want to see either. Please stay clothed, please don’t pick your nose (I haven’t had a Zoom meeting yet where someone wasn’t picking their nose), and please don’t stay on a video meeting while going to the bathroom. Our devices seem to all have cameras these days, I would caution you to always be aware of your camera. A family friend’s phone was ringing and their toddler answered it and brought it to them while they were showering… it was a Facetime call! Don’t do anything during an online meeting that you wouldn’t do in a conference room meeting in person.
Master the Mute Button
Lastly, become a master of the mute button. I learned a cool trick (I’m probably very late to this party) about the mute button. If you mute your Zoom meeting, you can then just hold down the spacebar to unmute yourself temporarily. Tricks like that make meetings so much more enjoyable for everyone. Please mute yourself when you aren’t talking. I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve been in where the moderator has had to say, “Can everyone go on mute, we’re getting a lot of background noise.”
Maintaining your decorum and following these web meeting etiquette tips will help everyone have an enjoyable and comfortable online meeting experience. We are all in this together. Let’s make it enjoyable.