5 major faux pas you need to avoid in virtual meetings

Lockdowns, quarantines, Zoom meetings, and no toilet paper….yeah, we did not see this coming! 

The year 2020 has gone from us all  “Having our 20-20 vision,” and this being “My decade” to all of us impatiently waiting for 2021. 

With how unpredictable this day and age has been, there is a lot to account for and more changes than ever before.

However, the one predictable thing, although not in person for obvious reasons, is meetings, meetings, and more meetings…only this time virtually

  • At school. 
  • At work. 
  • In our bedroom. 
  • Literally, meetings everywhere! 

We are thankful for Zoom and Google Meet, which for the most part, have allowed us to experience some set of normalcy during a worldwide pandemic, even if it is through a computer screen. That being said, our adjustment to Zoom has been few and far between with the level of mishaps and general lack of awareness.

While virtual meetings might be the new norm over the last year, the changing circumstances have led to an entirely new set of virtual meeting etiquette problems.

There is some faux pas’ out there when it comes to virtual meetings that you need to be aware of!  

While different from in-person, social etiquette is not thrown out of the window just because you happen to be in a virtual meeting. 

All social rules apply. Therefore, here are some no-nos below that many make while virtually live on camera (or as you will see in number one, not on camera) that you should be aware of!

1. Not turning on the camera

For many, the blank screen and no camera has become a chronic habit. 

Not having your camera on serves as a way to “not” pay attention to the meeting at hand while it is assumed that you are. While you might think you’re trying to get other things done, if you ask a teacher, talking to a blank screen can be draining!

Sure, you might be driving your car, but this is a no-no too! Not having your camera on, regardless of the season, signals a lack of respect and transparency on your part that will likely turn off those on the other end. Be mature; turn it on! 

2. Not being presentable

Look presentable in a Zoom meeting; it is simple as that. What is normal for most meetings is the same for most virtual meetings! It is easy to tell that you just rolled out of bed or haven’t tidied up a bit. 

Take the extra step and make yourself look good, and that way, you’ll feel good too. Whether you need to find a cheap haircut in a hurry, or you keep a button up next to your desk, having a professional top and looking lively is a good habit for virtual meetings!

3 Distractions, galore!

Virtual meetings are contingent upon your ability to listen and participate, but more often than not, things are going on in the background or perhaps things that you are doing that can take a meeting off course. 

Here’s a brief list of what not to do when it comes to distractions:

  1. No eating/drinking
  2. No getting up/moving around. 
  3. No side conversations
  4. Surfing the web (easy to identify by tracking eye movement) and clicking 
  5. Settings where concentration and focus can’t be obtained. 
  6. Dogs needing your attention

If you’re anything like me, that last one is tough since they’re so cute, but moving around, being distracted, and not paying attention isn’t something you would do in a normal meeting. 

4. Forgetting to mute the mic

On platforms like Zoom, you have the option to turn on/off your mic when you speak and are finished speaking. However, keep in mind that when you do speak, sometimes the screen brings your name up on the main screen, and doing that without knowing your mic is on, can lead to an embarrassing situation. 

It’s best to enter meetings on mute, and always double-checking that real quick can reduce faux pas from happening. It’s courteous to others when it is not your turn to speak.

5. Don’t discount the importance of lighting and camera angles

When you are on Zoom or any video conference platform for that matter, lighting and camera angles ensure that people can see each other. Zooming in a not fully lit or using awkward angles can come across as a lack of attention or care. 

No one wants to see your hairline, down your shirt, or a shot of your feet. We have all been on those virtual meetings and wondered what we are looking at. Make sure that when you are on a video conference, turn the lights on at a reasonable level of brightness and make sure you get yourself in the frame in an appropriate, professional way. 

If you know you will be doing virtual meetings indefinitely, consider investing in dimmable ring light and help with lighting. Also, create an area in your home that is reserved for meetings!

Final Thoughts 

Sometimes being on a video conference instead of in person can be tough to adjust to because it requires more of something we simply are not used to, and perhaps will take time. Still, it is essential to say that we need not substitute our professionalism for comfort. 

Always use the litmus test when attending virtual meetings, “Would I do this in person?” and if they answer is no, don’t do it virtually! Just because you’re online doesn’t mean social etiquette never stopped remaining in effect. 

If we learn to be respectful, courteous, and polite by making sure we are focused, free of distractions, camera-on, in plain sight, and all of the necessary bells and whistles of Zoom in check, you won’t ever have to worry about committing a virtual meeting faux pas again!