The spread of the Coronavirus and the lockdown have led to virtual meetings becoming an essential method of conducting business, ensuring continuity and productivity as well as regular connectivity.
Virtual meetings have become an invaluable tool for connecting with everyone from co-workers and clients, to a variety of individuals, bringing everyone together from a variety of remote locations. These meetings are becoming part of our daily routine.
At the click of a button you can interact with worldwide participants and it can feel as if you are all in the same room. Although these meetings are different from face to face meetings, it is undeniable that there is a level of etiquette required in order to keep them as professional as we do face-to-face meetings. Some important requirements are:
- Prepare well
- Whether you are a participant or the convenor of the meeting, preparation is key.
- Test out the meeting platform, the audio and video settings, prior to the meeting.
- Circulate the required documents prior to the meeting.
- Read the information which has been handed out prior to the meeting in order to keep the meeting flowing smoothly.
- Maintain professionalism
Meeting manners don’t go away just because you are not physically in the same room with the other participants.
- Dress the way you would if you were meeting in person.
- Keep your surroundings and background clean, neat and free of disturbances.
- When joining a meeting, greet and introduce yourself as you would if you were entering a room with other people.
- As much as you would not eat, drink alcohol or even smoke during a face-to-face meeting, you do not want to appear disrespectful to the chairperson or fellow attendees by displaying distracting and even unprofessional behaviour.
- Maintain a professional posture, avoid the temptation to lie down or place your feet up during the meeting.
- When talking, project your voice appropriately so that others don’t have to strain to hear you or to avoid being required to repeat what you have said.
- Despite the challenges brought on by network connections or video/ audio lags, be careful not to interrupt others when they’re speaking.
- Be mindful of people’s time and stick to the allocated time for each meeting.
- Minimise distractions
- Mute your microphone when you’re not talking.
- Turn off or mute your phone if you are not using it to call in to the meeting.
- Don’t fidget and avoid rustling papers or distracting background noises.
- Try to not move around during the meeting.
- Avoid working on your PC or on other gadgets during the meeting.
- Maintain confidentiality and security
- When sharing a screen, make sure that you only share the intended content.
- Close all unnecessary tabs, apps or documents you may have been working on prior to starting the video conference.
- Ensure that the meeting platform used has the necessary security features in order to not compromise anyone’s’ security.
- Send the meeting invitation / meeting particulars to only the intended user.
- The meeting host could further enhance security by only admitting participants whose identity is known and who are on the invitation list.
- Be open minded and permit some leeway
Much of the communication process for face to face meetings such a body language, eye contact and other non-verbal communication cues, may be lost over teleconference or video meetings. This may often lead to miscommunication or misinterpretation, therefore patience, open mindedness and a degree of grace too, is required of all of us.