A Complete Guide to Video Conferencing Etiquette

Written by
Sarah Ribeiro

In the age of virtual meetings, we’ve heard (and even witnessed firsthand) all the horror stories—Zoombombing, kids crashing into the call, and… far worse.

While we’ve had a few months to adjust to working remotely, very few people have taken the time to practice proper video conferencing etiquette.

Here are some ways to run proper video conferences and avoid common mistakes.

Here are some ways to run proper video conferences and avoid common mistakes.

  1. Check all your settings
  2. Invest in proper tech
  3. Set up a schedule
  4. Dress appropriately
  5. Practice active listening

 

 

vidoe coneference

1. Check—and double-check—your settings

Video conferencing tools like Zoom or Flock let you designate your settings; this includes selecting the right microphone and webcam for your meetings. They save these settings to make it easier for future calls. Make sure you have the right video and audio settings before your call so you don’t have to troubleshoot those pesky “technical difficulties” and waste meeting time.

If you plan on screen sharing during your call, take the time to set up your screen beforehand. Create a new browser window that only includes tabs you’ll be sharing. Nobody needs to know you Googled your favorite actor before the meeting or that you’re working on a screenplay in another window while you’re working (pro tip: just don’t do this 🙃). Having all your websites and documents up and ready to share means quicker load time and less time wasted. Plus, you’ll eliminate the risk of sharing the wrong screen or site and avoid any technical difficulties at the same time. This streamlined approach makes for an easier, more efficient video meeting.

 

Test features like virtual backgrounds or background blur beforehand, too—if you’re stuck working in a cluttered room or storage space, this will prevent your colleagues from seeing the mess behind you.

 

headphone computer

2. Invest in the right tech

Speaking of A/V settings, improve your meeting experience with the right software and hardware.

If you’re working in a busy environment—like at home with your kids—you’ll want noise-canceling headphones or a studio microphone to eliminate background noise. Purchase a simple ring light or other lighting tools to ensure you’re visible onscreen—no one wants to meet with a shadowy figure. Invest in a professional webcam that includes field of view settings and automatically blurs your background. Bonus points if your camera comes with a privacy cover, which you can use to double-up when you turn off your video, to ensure that it’s really off.

Take a look at the integrations available for your video meeting tools. Noise cancelling apps like Krisp use AI to remove background noise from your online meetings in real time with little to no cost.

 

Cincopa integrates with Zoom to record meetings so you don’t have to chase down your colleagues to follow up on a detail you may have missed—simply search for topics in your video and identify the part of the meeting you were looking for.

 

 

coffee diary

3. Set up a schedule

Whether you live with roommates, your partner, or your children, carving out a quiet and uninterrupted space in your home can be difficult. To prevent as many distractions as possible, set up a dedicated “do not disturb” time. That can mean balancing out meeting times with your spouse to make sure you’re not in calls at the same time and talking over each other or telling your kids ‘no asking mommy to go outside during office time’. Building those boundaries at home helps to minimize interruptions and establish norms in your home office.

Keep your neighborhood schedule into account, too: regular garbage pickups, construction schedules, and school buses are typically consistent—and loud. Know when you need to move to a different area of your home to avoid those noisy obtrusions and keep your video meeting free of noisy beeping, crashing, and children yelling.

 

female call center worker

4. Dress appropriately

Just like any other professional setting, dress to impress. That doesn’t mean you need a three-piece suit for every video call. Comfortable clothes are more than okay—yes, wear those sweatpants!—provided you’ve dressed appropriately from the waist up. A simple button-up shirt or blouse shows that you’ve taken the time to prepare for the meeting, even just by getting dressed.

Make sure your clothes are video-ready, too: a plain white or black shirt may be difficult for your camera to capture if you don’t have the proper lighting setup—and if you’re using a virtual background, it may blend right in, leaving you as a floating head. Try to layer those colors with a cardigan or blazer to avoid that mishap.

 

Busy patterns like stripes or polka dots can be a mess on a webcam, causing a moire effect that can be distracting or even dizzying. Keep it simple and both your webcam and your colleagues will appreciate it.

 

 

Indian Girl Student Wear Headphones Learning Online Watching Web

5. Practice active listening

Here’s where etiquette really comes into play. If your audio and video settings are appropriate and you’ve cleared out a private space for your calls, the rest is up to you.

Make sure you acknowledge your colleagues on the call. A simple hello and a personal check-in can make a world of difference to establish mutual respect and set the tone for the meeting. Set up expectations and norms at this time, like a hand-raising system to prevent interruptions.

 

Make rules to avoid “double-talk,” where multiple people are speaking over each other and inevitably neither speaker gets heard.

 

To respect your attendees and lead an effective video meeting, take your time. Allow your colleagues to finish speaking before you interject or raise your hand. Similarly, pause frequently when you’re speaking and ask leading questions like “does that make sense?” or “what questions do you have?” to encourage interjections and keep the conversation going.

Then… listen! Practice active listening, where you not only pay attention to what’s being said, but you repeat it and rephrase it in your own words to confirm you’ve understood. Write down follow-up questions that you can ask once you’ve raised your hand, and take down action items based on the conversation. That level of awareness of your speaker’s time and ideas confers the respect and professionalism you should be striving toward at any professional interaction.

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A Complete Guide to Video Conferencing Etiquette

by Sarah Ribeiro time to read: 4 min
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