The world of working over the past years has begun to change, with home working or working from a different location becoming more normal. Whilst in education settings this is less common, communicating over online and virtual meetings is becoming more regular, especially in establishments with multi-sites or working with external stakeholders. When meeting virtually, there comes a virtual code of conduct to make sure everyone on the call feels heard, engaged, and can properly participate in meaningful conversations.
Virtual meeting etiquette is vital to boost productivity, put your best foot forward, and build professional relationships whilst keeping ours and other’s information secure.
BE RESPECTFUL OF EACH OTHERS TIME
As a meeting host, it’s never good virtual meeting etiquette to keep your colleagues, and especially your external stakeholders waiting. But the same rule applies to meeting attendees—don’t keep your host waiting! Your host is most likely one of your teammates, a member from another department, or a manager. You probably work with them on a daily basis or even have a friendship with them. Treat them with the respect we all deserve by showing up ready to start the meeting at the planned time.
PREPARE FOR SCREEN SHARING
Screen sharing contains the risk of having other participants accidentally look at personal data or confidential information that was not intended for them. This can easily happen if you fail to close unnecessary files, windows and applications before the meeting starts. Be sure to close all files, windows, and applications that you do not want other participants to see. It is not enough to just minimize or hide them. They need to be closed completely.
Alternatively, when you need to share your screen, you typically have several options. You can choose to share your entire desktop, or only to display a specific window on the screen. By sharing only one particular window (e.g., a PowerPoint), you limit the risk of sharing things that you have forgotten to take into consideration.
Nonetheless, the best solution will always be to close windows with information that you don’t want others to see.
DRESS FOR SUCCESS
Whether in the office or online, dressing appropriately is so important. Proper etiquette suggests that you wear to your video conference what you would to an in-person work environment. But the good news is there’s some leeway with virtual meetings since the screen is cropped well above the waist, you can still get away with wearing those jeans or joggers when at home.
Beyond just looking nice, your virtual meeting wardrobe should align with the tone of the meeting itself. Avoid distracting jewellery, and patterns that won’t translate well on video.
Avoiding distractions includes avoiding the urge to multitask. Stay focused on the meeting at hand! if your host prepared and shared the agenda ahead of time, you can assume that each talking point is intentional and pertinent to the conversation.
Before the meeting, remember to…
- Put your phone away
- Turn off the TV or music
- Mute any notifications
- Close your extra tabs
Chaotic backgrounds are another common focus-killer during virtual meetings. If possible, try and find a quiet space to attend or host meetings and choose an alternative background or use a blurring effect to keep yourself and all other meeting attendees focused on the session.
KEEP NOTE TAKING TO A MINIMUM
Even though your intentions are in the right place, avoid taking detailed meeting notes unless you’re instructed to do so. Instead, stick to the key conversation points and review the meeting minutes later if there are any glaring holes in your notes.
A major benefit of virtual meetings is the ability to record the entire meeting or create a meeting summary. Lean on those features to make the meeting itself as strong as possible—frequent pauses in the conversation disrupt the flow of information, slows your agenda, and waste precious time.
LEAVE SPACE FOR QUESTIONS
Build the Q&A portion of your meeting into the agenda so your peers have the proper time to mentally prepare questions, voice their opinions, or offer suggestions given that you probably just finished a hefty and engaging conversation – expect that people will have something to say about it. Encourage your meeting participants to reach out with questions, ideas, or comments even after the meeting has come to a close.
Sharing advisory documents or guidance, like this blog, is key to get everyone on the same page and understand the importance of following rules or recommendations. Storing these in an accessible, central place makes this easy for colleagues to read, sign and refer to if needed.
SAMpeople can do exactly this, a cloud-based HR software bespoke to education. SAMpeople enables you upload any documents to sign, straight into the employee portal for them to acknowledge. Download our brochure to find out more about our 12-module HR software.