Video Conference Etiquette

Video Conference

As social creatures, we humans will find a way to meet socially and professionally, even when distancing seems to be the new normal.  Video conferencing, or teleconferencing, as a platform is a convenient way to meet and communicate.

It’s clear that video technologies are useful and an important part of our recovery.  But whether your virtual meetings are social or business related, employing etiquette when conducting them should be a main concern.

How do you remain mindful of others when you interface with them virtually rather than physically?

Lights, Camera, Conference

Appearing at a video conference or meeting can be likened to sitting on a stage with an audience who are able to see your every physical move.  And taking a turn speaking is similar to walking to the podium to present or make remarks.  All eyes are on you! 

Facial expressions and arm gestures are part of your delivery.  You want to appear credible and authentic as you are creating a meeting presence. 

The irony of the above analogy is that in a video conference you can appear very close to others – sometimes invasively close.  But too far and you appear distant and remote.  One thing to keep in mind is that unlike an in-person conference where attention is drawn to the one person speaking, video conferences keep all attendees in the line of sight. 

Tips for Being Present and Available:

  • You have familiarized yourself with the technology you will use.
  • Your camera device – whether via computer, phone, or tablet, is set up so that you are pictured appropriately.  Audio adjustments have been set to minimize feedback and volume issues.
  • You’ve chosen appropriate and attractive attire and, if in doubt, will aim to err on the side of having a leadership persona. 
  • When the meeting begins or as attendees are added, introduce yourself or say hello to everyone when you first speak.
  • Having positioned yourself comfortably and at a correct distance from the audience, looking directly into the camera, the illusion of eye contact with each person listening is established.  And, like having direct eye contact up close, it’s okay to avoid the stare.
  • If slides are presented, introduce the slides before placing the first one on the screen.  Transitions are as helpful.
  • During professional video conferences, it may be a good idea to mute your audio to minimize the noise level and help keep attention on the person who is talking. 
  • Let your face speak the words and relax as you speak.  You will appear, and be, poised.
  • Your presence indicates your presence at the meeting, and choosing the room and setting in which people view you is a gesture of invitation into your space.  The appearance of the setting should be welcoming.

Conference Similarities

Aside from knowledge and practice of the technology used and making an appearance on camera, there are many similarities between video conferencing and in-person conferences.

Purpose, preparation and punctuality demonstrate respect.

  • Be on time to the meeting, focused and ready to listen and contribute.
  • Show up with a clear, purposeful intention in mind.  This includes knowing what role you will play and responsibilities you bear. 
  • Be clear on what you are bringing to the meeting and stick to the subjects on the agenda.

Leave your meeting as any good host or guest would.

  • As a host or participant of the meeting, your departure includes a goodbye as well as acknowledging next steps and follow-up.
  • Close with well wishes and looking-forward-to’s.
  • If you need to exit early, let others know ahead of time if possible.
  • Be honest and sincere if you need to leave early.  Less said is better.  

Avoid distraction-causing actions.

  • Face and hair touching
  • Scratching or touching your body
  • Over-gesturing
  • Re-positioning seating position
  • Muting and answering a phone call or text message
  • Slouching
  • Searching for materials on or off of your device
  • Using your phone 
  • interrupting others 
  • Fiddling with items below camera view
  • Playing with possible backgrounds
  • Gum chewing, eating and drinking

The convenience of teleconferencing is becoming more and more prevalent as we continue to socialize and do business while distancing during the pandemic.  And experts are now beginning to mention that this method of communication is here to stay as a primary method of gathering.

As you practice and become familiar with using video communications, remain mindful of what the situation calls for in terms of politeness and respect.  This will also contribute to your own sense of confidence as you grow comfortable with this technology.

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