The stark differences between in-person and online business meetings can cause tremendous overwhelm and effectiveness issues for all professionals. It can be harder to hold the attention and respect of your audience members when hosting a meeting virtually. But you’ll regain attention and restore value when you exercise proper virtual meeting etiquette.

Why Virtual Meeting Etiquette Matters

Of course, you want your teammates to perform well regardless of meeting circumstances or environment. But professionals from every corner of the globe perform better when leaders respect their time.

Regularly practicing professional etiquette during online interactions is a must. It sends the message: “This is important and I’m grateful for your participation.” 

When meeting participants feel seen and valued, they generally perform better. That’s why it’s better if meetings are calm and organized, rather than chaotic.

If you’re hosting a virtual gathering, good manners start with you! You’ll gain much more momentum if you practice strong virtual meeting etiquette.

How To Adopt General Virtual Meeting Etiquette Best Practices, No Matter Your Role

First, whether you’re hosting or attending the virtual meeting doesn’t matter. Some etiquette rules apply to all. Take a look to prepare for your next online meeting.

Choose The Right Location

No matter your role during a virtual meeting, it’s crucial to consider your background. Nothing says “I don’t care about this” like tuning in someplace dark, noisy, or cluttered. 

Try to shoot for good lighting (near a window, perhaps) and a plain, neutral backdrop. This way, your teammates can focus on your face and great ideas, rather than any distractions happening around you.

Be Prepared

Know your topics well before a meeting begins. It’s common courtesy to arrive at a virtual meeting with the ability to deliver and contribute intelligently. Your fellow attendees will definitely be able to tell if it’s the first time you’re seeing the material.

It sends a strong message when you take responsibility for talking points. Research and discuss (even if you weren’t asked to).

Dress Professionally

“Dress manners” matter—from the inside out! In other words, the way you dress conveys a level of seriousness and professionalism to your audience and gets you in the right frame of mind to perform your best.

Proper virtual meeting etiquette means:

  • Be nicely groomed
  • Do your hair neatly 
  • Make sure your shirt or top is pressed and professional
  • Avoid slouchy clothes

Basically, do the same things to prepare for your online meeting as you would in-person!

Be On-Time

Time is important to everyone. If you are going to be late, send a message to someone on your team, just as you would if you were arriving late to the office. Failing to do so suggests that you’re not taking the meeting seriously (which doesn’t bode well for your career).

On the other hand, if you’re early to the call, take time to engage with others! You can ask them questions about the content or make small talk. View it as a networking opportunity or chance to build connections.

Practice Confident Body Language 

Sit up straight!  Put your shoulders back, chin up, and don’t slouch. Similar to the clothes you choose to exercise virtual meeting etiquette, good posture communicates respect and seriousness to others. It also helps you have more energy and confidence to participate.

Make eye contact with the person speaking. Be mindful of where you’re placing your attention—and ensure it’s not on your own image on the screen! And steer clear of other devices or distractions.

Follow Through and Follow Up

Most meetings require some sort of action or demonstration of understanding afterward. You should circle back to your hosts or colleagues with a summary of knowledge and afterthoughts. Turn in any work that’s assigned to you!

For example, follow up accordingly with writing reports or offer links, as promised. Accountability and integrity are two essential characteristics of a polite professional.

Related: 11 Zoom Interview Tips Team Leaders Can Use to Effectively Host Meetings

4 Virtual Meeting Etiquette Tips For Hosting A Successful Meeting

Things become more particular when you’re hosting a business meeting. People rely on you to set the tone and keep things moving! How do you balance your responsibilities and maintain polite virtual meeting etiquette?

Prepare An Agenda

Always plan ahead and be organized when you’re hosting a virtual meeting. The attention span of your audience is shorter than you think! Communicating on-screen is even more challenging than meeting in person.

Capture your audience by planning ahead, staying on topic, and moving efficiently through each talking point. When you provide an agenda, everyone will know what to expect and when to ask questions.

Make Introductions and Keep Everyone Engaged

Is there someone new attending your meeting? Or perhaps you’re presenting to a totally new group of individuals and nobody knows each other. Take the time to introduce yourself and others. It puts everyone at ease and helps maintain focus when attendees know who else is on the screen.

Share each person’s name, position, and a little bit about them. Virtual meeting etiquette suggests you use names and other relevant information when addressing people! 

Know Your Tools or Software Before The Meeting

Hosts need to be ready to maneuver all of their technology and address any potential hiccups as they arise. Don’t let your live meeting be the first time you encounter a particular tool or software. It’s inconsiderate otherwise!

Develop a backup plan for problems that you can’t fix on-screen. Will you still be able to talk through points? Don’t let tech issues derail an important meeting and waste everyone’s time.

Record and Share The Meeting To Avoid Note-Taking

This simple gesture can put everyone’s minds at ease, especially if your meeting topic is particularly dense or intricate. That way, attendees can skip taking notes and rewatch the meeting at a later time.

Video recordings are especially helpful when guests can’t attend the actual meeting due to illness, scheduling conflicts, or personal obstacles. There are many software options to help with this piece of virtual meeting etiquette.

4 Virtual Meeting Etiquette Tips For Meeting Attendees

Being a host is clearly a lot of work! How can you reciprocate as a guest? There are a handful of ways to practice virtual meeting etiquette as an attendee.

Start On Mute

You might not realize how loud you are from your end of the screen. But even something so subtle as a pet in the background or a squeaky chair can interrupt the flow of thought.

Get into the habit of kicking off your meetings on mute. Trust that your host will invite you to turn on your microphone and speak in due time. Just stay silent and out of the way until then!

Aim To Be Responsive and Engaged, Even If You Aren’t Speaking

Use your facial expressions and body posture to convey virtual meeting etiquette. Sitting upright, making eye contact, nodding, and smiling puts your presenters at ease and shows them you’re listening carefully.

This sort of engagement helps you get noticed, as well. Being a good, respectful listener could even be your ticket to the top of your field. 

Avoid Eating

Odds are, your virtual meeting is only a short period of time. Save snacking for other long, arduous stretches of the day. Eating on camera is not only unsightly, it’s rude and suggests to your host that they’re putting on some sort of show for your entertainment (like popcorn at a movie theater).

Keep your focus off your stomach and on your speaker. You want your mouth free for speaking and positive expressions.

Don’t Interrupt Others While They’re Speaking

Just as you should alternate speaking in person, you should take turns using the microphone if you’re gathering online. It’s good virtual meeting etiquette to listen and practice patience when it’s another person’s idea to use their voice.

Your teammates and clients can tell when you’re calculating your own response, rather than listening and thinking about their point of view. 

Virtual meeting etiquette may take some practice but is worth concentrating on for your professional growth. Your teammates will surely appreciate your organization and attention when important circumstances arise. 

Ready to improve your in-person and virtual meeting etiquette? Get a proposal for our team’s business etiquette training services now.

14 Powerful Virtual Meeting Etiquette Insights To Help You Look More Professional | American Etiquette