Etiquette for Online Meetings
Covid-19 has made the use of online meetings an important tool in our everyday union work. There are similarities and differences between on-line and in-person meetings. The shift to online meetings was swift in order to continue the work of the union during the pandemic. Everyone experienced growing pains and over time it became easier.
The following information highlights some ways to navigate the world of online meetings.
Before the meeting
In order for a meeting to be successful, participants need to be able to communicate with each other. Your first step should be to conduct an audio and video test before your meeting begins.
- Try out the platform to make sure you are familiar with the settings
- Make sure you know where the video and unmute buttons are
- An extra nearby lamp can be helpful- video quality is dramatically improved with more lighting
- Make sure the light is in front of you, not behind you – being backlit makes you harder to see
- If you are the organizer, log on at least 10 minutes before-hand so participants aren’t logging in to an empty meeting
Background and Environment
- Ensure that you have a work-appropriate background-you want attendees’ focus to be on the meeting content, not a distracting area behind you Try to attend the meeting from a quiet area that has minimal background noise and movement. Many online meeting platforms have a virtual background feature which is an easy way to eliminate distractions
- Notifications from messaging applications, ringtones, and applications running on your desktop can be distracting, turn them off or mute
- Mute your mic when you are not speaking and ask others to do the same. This will eliminate background noise and feedback.
Mitigating distractions helps keep the meeting focused and free from interruption.
Your appearance should match the expectations of your audience. With your co-workers or fellow members, it’s best to match your video call look to how you’d normally look in the meeting or office.
During the Meeting
Be sure to introduce all parties you are hosting at the beginning. Just like a real meeting or social event, you wouldn’t initiate a conversation between people who haven’t met without introducing them.
Use the Chat Function
Don’t talk over each other. Use the chat function to ask questions. This way participants can submit questions during the meeting without interrupting anyone who is speaking. During a natural lull in the meeting, the presenter or meeting host can answer those questions at their convenience because the questions will be viewable by everyone in the chat message sidebar.
Speak to the Camera and Not the Screen
Our tendency is to look at the person on the screen, but you should look at the camera when you speak so the audience feels like you’re talking directly to them.
Try to Include Everyone
When on a virtual meeting, it can be common for the same few people to take the stage and do all of the talking. Especially on calls with a long list of attendees, it’s up to the host to properly manage participants and ask people who haven’t spoken in a while to share their opinion.
Record Decisions and Next Steps
Just like you would if you were gathering in a conference room, be diligent about taking notes, recording decisions, and confirming the next steps.
8 Quick Do’s
- Do be courteous to other participants
- Do speak clearly
- Do keep body movements minimal
- Do move and gesture slowly and naturally
- Do maintain eye contact by looking into the camera
- Do dress appropriately
- Do make the session animated
- Do be yourself and have fun
7 Quick Don’ts
- Don’t make distracting sounds
- Don’t shout
- Don’t make distracting movements
- Don’t interrupt other speakers
- Don’t carry on side conversations
- Don’t wear “noisy” jewelry
- Don’t cover the microphone
End on a Positive Note
Something subtle that you can do to improve virtual meeting etiquette is to end the call on a positive note. You can do this by saying something as simple as “thank you so much for all your effort on this project” or “it’s been a pleasure working with you all on this.” Doing so can go a long way in boosting the mood and overall feelings of the meeting.
Additionally, the meeting host should be the last one to leave the call, especially considering once they decide to leave, the meeting will terminate. By making sure the host leaves last, no one is missing any last-minute information or anything that someone may have forgotten to add or ask.
You can find the power point here: https://nsgeu.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/etiquette-for-online-meetings-2021.pdf
The web has many videos to help get you familiar with the platform you are using.
Below are examples of introductory videos for some popular online meeting platforms.
Microsoft Teams https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CH2seLS5Wb0
Google Meet https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8Y1vlfpbEU
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