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Etiquette Tips for Virtual Meetings

Joanne Trotta | Tuesday, September 1, 2020

As leaders, you set the tone for how your employees behave and interact with one another, whether working remotely or in the office. Let’s face it — working virtually is not going away anytime soon. Organizations like Facebook, Twitter and Shopify are just a few examples of...

Etiquette Tips for Virtual Meetings

As leaders, you set the tone for how your employees behave and interact with one another, whether working remotely or in the office. Let’s face it — working virtually is not going away anytime soon. Organizations like Facebook, Twitter and Shopify are just a few examples of companies that have decided to make working from home permanent for their workforces.

Running a virtual meeting might feel very similar to running an in-person session, but in reality, it is different and requires some additional techniques and approaches to ensure you are setting a positive example for your team to follow. 

Here are four simple etiquette tips you can leverage to ensure you are showing up powerfully and positively for the people you work with.

1. Focus on Communication and Self-Awareness

If you are familiar with our blog series, you know we write a lot about communication and self-awareness. Self-awareness enables us to be more effective communicators. In addition, we are more capable of tapping into how others are feeling and can adjust our communication and behavior accordingly. Last month we posted: The Do’s and Don’ts in Leading a Remote Team

You have probably read or heard about the importance of using video in your meetings and discussions so you can see a person’s facial expressions and tune into their body language. It can be challenging to create human connection remotely, so using video enables you to see one another, which is critical to the external element of being self-aware. You can tune into their tone without using video, but being able to see their body language and how they are showing up will tell you far more about how they are feeling.

2. Be Mindful of the Method and Timing of Your Messages

Ensure the method or medium you use to communicate is appropriate. As an example, providing constructive feedback via text messaging or an instant messaging platform is not ideal. Constructive feedback warrants a face-to-face conversation, whether that be in person or virtually.   

Also, be mindful of the timing of your messages. We are all somewhat guilty of this when we respond to emails and text messages after hours in order to keep up with our heavy work schedules. Understand this: As leaders, you set the tone for what’s appropriate and expected with how you behave, and if you are sending out emails with action items and deliverables to your team outside of standard work hours, they might assume that they too are expected to respond and work beyond the regular workday.

The concept of a “regular” workday has fallen by the wayside under the present circumstances.  Many people are working longer hours than they were months ago or have been forced to alter their work hours in order to balance personal or family needs — and that is okay. As leaders, we need to be extra sensitive to this and support our teams accordingly. Ensure your messages explain that no response is required until normal working hours. For example: “I realize I’m sending this off hours, so please save your response for the morning. I am working late to catch up on my emails.”

This sounds simple, but you might be amazed by the impact receiving messages during the off hours has on an employee’s psyche and stress level.

3. Use Video Properly in Virtual Meetings and Discussions 

We touched upon this in tip number one and it warrants being reemphasized. Few people like talking to a blank screen on Zoom, only interacting with the other person’s audio. Model the behaviors you want to see from your team and ensure that you have your video on for all of your one-on-one or team discussions. When we lead by example, we set the right tone and behaviors for our employees to follow. If you only need to have a quick chat, then pick up the phone. However, any conversation that will last beyond 15 minutes probably warrants a video connection so you can see one another.

Don’t get me wrong though. If you are having large meetings, it may not be possible to see everyone’s video box on your screen. Those types of meetings are typically not intimate conversations, so it is acceptable that parctipants keep their video off. Still, we recommend you keep your video on as the presenter or facilitator so meeting participants can see you while you are talking and engaging with the group.

4. Follow Agendas and Stay on Time 

Time is precious, and everyone is feeling stretched right now, so be extra careful when choosing the participants you invite to your meetings. Start and end your meetings on time and also be extra diligent by ensuring you create and follow your meeting agenda. In addition, be mindful that your agenda includes time for group discussion and Q&A. Lastly, be specific about what you want the agenda and outcome to be. Is it a brainstorming session? A new project kick-off meeting? An information or update session?   

Your employees are watching you, and if you do not have healthy and productive meeting habits, these traits will trickle down to your team — and imagine the company-wide impact this could have. Be mindful about establishing agendas vs. calling a meeting for the sake of it, and please stay on time! The people in your organization will respect you for it.

Do you have any etiquette tips you would like to share?

Managing and leading remotely or in a physical office environment isn’t easy. Being remote does pose additional challenges, as we lose out on the water cooler or lunch room chats that can help strengthen our relationships with our teams. To some degree, working virtually is almost everyone’s new reality. Therefore, as leaders, we must lead by example and establish positive and productive habits for every meeting and discussion we lead and participate in. Your team’s overall success depends on it.

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