Many of us are spending hours on virtual meetings. And some of the behaviors witnessed during those virtual events are laughable—and do nothing for our professional credibility. Whether it is hearing toilet flushing during meetings or simply hearing dogs bark or children (or partners!) scream, a few common sense rules for good behavior are worth remembering:
Wear clothes This includes bottoms as well as tops. Being dressed is not just good for our moods, it shows respect for others. Don’t forget your personal grooming as well. We all need haircuts but that’s no reason to look like you just got out of bed; you can brush your hair—or at least tie it back!
Identify yourself when you sign-on. Everyone can hear the “ping;” be sure to say your name when you sign on or put your name in the chat box.
Don’t eat while you’re on a meeting. If you wouldn’t eat during a meeting in the office, you shouldn’t eat during a virtual meeting either. And the noise that eating can generate may cause the camera to switch to you. Having a bottle of water or coffee is fine. Again, treat your virtual meeting like one you would hold in your office.
Look behind you; no one wants to see your unmade bed, your bathroom, or 30 year band posters.
Minimize distractions from pets, partners, and children. This is often easier said than done. And of course, some workplaces and work meetings are more formal than others. Be cognizant of who is on the call and the purpose of the meeting.
Learn how to use the mute button! Mute yourself if you are not talking. That will not only help with call quality but also eliminate background noise. If you’re typing during the meeting, without the mute button, you’ll be heard. Many organizations want participation through the chat feature (or by “raising your hand” first). The leader of the meeting should make expectations clear at the beginning of the meeting. If they don’t, you may want to ask.
Remember that communication is not instantaneous. Most virtual systems have a slight delay before someone can be heard. Or someone may be trying to unmute themselves. Take that into account and try not to interrupt while others are speaking.
Be on time and pay attention. It is disrespectful to be late for virtual meetings. Make eye contact – with the camera, not the screen. And if your mind starts to wander, or you start to multitask, it will be clear to everyone watching.
Being able to work remotely is an advantage but they are not an excuse to ignore common courtesies. Be respectful of your colleagues’ time and professionalism. Following these simple rules will help ensure that we can continue to leverage their advantages going forward.