Published February 8, 2021
How to master your video call etiquette
We all know how to conduct ourselves in a face to face meetings. Dress well, show positive body language, show that you’re listening etc, but with almost all of our professional interactions moving online it can be easy to let standards slip, especially when you’re in the comfort of your home sporting loungewear from the waist down! When attending a business meeting, talking with a colleague or attending a virtual event it’s important to convey a professional and positive image and there’s a lot more to it than simply showing up. Video call etiquette is something that we all need to be reminded of in order to always convey a professional and positive impression.
Turn on your video
Sounds obvious for a video call, right? However, a lot of people shy away from showing their face on camera for many reasons. They may not have a professional-looking workspace or may have family members coming in and out of the room they’re working in. Whatever the reason chances are it’s a whole lot better for your peers see that rather than a blank screen.
Not turning on your video for a meeting or virtual event can send the message that you’re not genuinely invested in the conversation. It also makes it harder for your peers to connect with you and, of course, it’s impossible for them to read your body language or gauge when you might want to speak/ have something to say. So, make your workplace as clutter-free as you can make it, use a virtual background if needs be, tell your family that you’ll be on a video call and shouldn’t be disturbed and turn your video on!
Mute your audio when others are talking
It can be said that virtual meetings and video calls require more attention than a face to face conversation. Listening to your peers through a microphone and speakers can bring up many tech issues such as feedback and unclear audio. It also means that whatever noise is happening in your immediate environment can be heard by your peers at often a high volume.
To avoid anyone struggling to hear what is being said or a speaker having to compete with unwanted noise ensure you mute your audio while others are talking (just remember to switch it back on when it’s time for you to speak to avoid the dreaded “you’re on mute” chorus).
Dress for the occasion (to an extent)
While taking part in a business meeting or virtual event no one is going to expect you to sit there in a full suit and its’ common knowledge in the world of lockdown that most of us are in leggings and loungewear 80% of the time. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make an effort to look presentable. Avoid hoodies and sweatshirts and think smart/ casual. A shirt or blouse always looks put together, or may a smart jumper, just pick something that doesn’t scream “I haven’t left the house in weeks”!
Body language is still a thing
We’re all guilty of letting our mind wander during meetings, physical or virtual, or falling into body language that suggests we’re no longer paying attention (slumping in our chair, looking in another direction, yawning etc.). However, when it comes to video calls this negative body language can potentially be even more apparent to the speaker as they have a full gallery view of everyone in the meeting right in front of them. Things like yawning or a daydreaming gaze can be amplified and can potentially affect the mood of the room.
When taking part in a video call or virtual event ensure that you are exhibiting positive body language that lets the speaker and your peers know that you are invested in the conversation. Keep focused on the person talking, nod and acknowledge statements you agree with and respond to the mood of the conversation. Don’t forget that you’re on camera and your body language can have an impact on the conversation.
Don’t look at your phone or carry on with other tasks on your computer while on calls
Just like a physical meeting or event, looking at your phone or conducting other tasks when someone is talking is poor manners and this is something that often gets forgotten when conducting video calls. As we are talking to people on the same screen on which we conduct all our work it can be tempting to carry on with other tasks in the background and think that your peers won’t notice but trust us, they do. Not only will your attention and gaze change there will also be a slight change in light when switching between different tabs and programmes which makes it pretty obvious that you’re no longer giving your full attention. Its a little thing but it makes a bit different and will be noticed.
The same goes for your phone. It’s so obvious when someone checks their phone while on a video call, no matter how discreetly they do it. Put your phone on silent mode and away from your workspace just for the duration of the call to avoid being distracted.
Ensure your peers can hear your clearly
If you’re taking part in an event or an important meeting it’s imperative that you can be heard clearly. You wouldn’t mumble or not speak clearly in a face to face meeting so you want to ensure you can be heard just as well virtually as you would in person. You don’t want your peers struggling to hear you and you don’t want important information being lost. Test your microphone with a colleague before going on an important video call. You may need a headset or to alter your audio settings. Whatever the issue maybe it’s important to iron this out ahead of time to save the disruption, and potential embarrassment, of having to fix your audio on the call.