Zoom Meeting Etiquette for Professionals

2020 may be coming to a close, but the age of social distancing isn’t a thing of the past quite yet.  As more states face second shutdowns, and holiday travel may have people meeting on the go, online video conferencing has become a new normal for professionals and engineers are not immune.

Video conferencing tools such as Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams are essential tools during this time of working remotely, but engineers should adhere to some basic etiquette rules to maintain their professionalism.  First, as with typical office meetings, do your prep work ahead of time, and that now includes your own tech support.  Services such as Zoom offer a way to test your settings before the meeting goes live at zoom.us/test.  Skype also offers a way to test your call through their Echo / Sound Test Service in your contacts tab.  Having all the kinks worked out of your audio/video settings before the meeting will avoid any embarrassing delays on your account.

Next, be sure to create a professional environment for your virtual meeting.  Notice what lies behind you, but within your camera’s view.  Your co-workers or clients should be spared any distractions which may be viewable through an open window in your office or other members of your household moving around during the call.  If you are unable to meet in a quiet workspace, virtual backgrounds can be used to eliminate distractions.  You should also dress appropriately and ensure proper lighting in the room so all attendees can see your face clearly throughout the meeting.

After the meeting has begun and all attendees have been introduced, be sure to keep your audio on mute to prevent any background noise from interrupting the speaker.  When you are speaking, be sure to look into the camera rather than at your face so that you appear to be making eye contact.  

As with an in-person meeting, you should avoid answering other emails or text messages during your virtual meeting.  Although you may think you can get away with it, other participants may notice you seem distracted or dismissive.  Be attentive and realize that non-verbal communication, such as head nods or hand raises, can be crucial to moving business along quickly when meeting virtually.

Unless you have disclosed to the host that you need to leave early, you should remain on the call until the host announces the completion of the agenda.  If the meeting runs over the allotted time, you may politely interrupt if there is an appropriate pause from the speaker, or leave a comment in the chat feature, to inform the host that you have another obligation to attend to, and then you may need to follow up to see what was discussed during your absence.

Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft Teams all offer their own tips for attending and hosting virtual meetings, so be sure to check out their platforms to learn more about ways to improve communications when meeting virtually.  While some businesses may return to a pre-Covid existence, many will continue to operate remotely in the future, so maintaining professional habits when meeting virtually will be a new skill employers require in their workforce.

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