Between Zoom, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting and the like, it’s been a year full of more virtual meetings than I can count. While there are pros and cons to meeting virtually, the same can be said for in-person meetings. The key to success is knowing how to present yourself and be respectful of others, no matter where your meeting takes place. One thing is for certain: the virtual meeting is here to stay.
The year 2020 forced the majority of us to start thinking differently—in many ways, for the better. A large part of this new thinking involved a new approach to work, and how work integrates into each of our unique lives. The way we work has quite possibly changed forever, and I am personally thankful for the previous year for allowing more time for reflection and growth.
As we move into 2021 and more and more citizens receive their vaccines for COVID-19, people will slowly return back to the office. Or, they might not. The “new normal” will look different for everyone. Some businesses will remain virtual for the unforeseeable future, while others will return to in-person operations. For many, we’ll see a hybrid-model of employees splitting their time between home and office. If we’ve learned anything from the past year, it’s that it really shouldn’t matter where the work or the meeting takes place, as long as the work gets done and is done well.
If working remotely won’t apply to you personally in the near future, you should still be prepared to meet virtually with others for some time to come. Here are some ways my team and I have learned to stay present and be respectful of others’ time.
We’ve all seen the memes, and we’ve probably all heard some variation of “you’re on mute” or “can everyone please mute?” on more occasion than one. Muting your mic when others are speaking should be at the top of your list when it comes to virtual etiquette. It will allow the person speaking to present clearly to all participants in the meeting without any verbal interruptions.
We all have our unique tastes and style, but that doesn’t mean everyone wants to see it. A busy background can be quite the distraction. Whether you have a quirky artwork collection or one too many plants, consider cleaning up your home workspace for fewer distractions on camera. Or, to make things easier, change your settings to blur your background and the problem will be solved. This also works for those days when you haven’t had a chance to clean the house! It’s a win-win scenario.
Work-from-home outfits are a lot more comfortable, but you should really change out of your pajamas when you’re on camera. Just as you would do in person, it’s important to dress in a presentable way when meeting with others. It’s respectful to them and is also a way to be taken more seriously. Plus, when you look good, you feel good, which leads to better presentation skills.
Your role won’t always be at the focal point of a meeting. However, that doesn’t mean you should stay silent for the entire call. Even if you don’t plan on presenting anything, always make a point to introduce yourself and say hello at the beginning of a meeting. The same goes for signing off once the meeting concludes. If you have nothing to add professionally, simply asking about a person’s day goes a long way towards being friendly and approachable.
While you can try your best to minimize distractions like downplaying your back-ground and not eating on camera, some distractions while working from home just can’t be avoided. For instance, the cat running across the keyboard or the child yelling a question in the background. The beauty and curse of working from home is that others are likely around, and they won’t always be quiet. Accept this for what it is and be patient with others as they would do for you.
In many ways, it’s been a nice change of pace meeting virtually and getting a glimpse into our clients’ lives. I think we’re really starting to get the hang of this. I’d love to hear what some of you would add to your own virtual etiquette list. Reach out at any time. email@example.com