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  • Writer's pictureMaria P Frino

Etiquette for Online Meetings

With many of us working from home, meetings have moved online with Zoom, Teams, Skype, and other video calling software. This has brought with it a whole new set of behavioural rules, some of which are necessary.

Online meetings, and the inevitable "you're on mute" being said multiple times, have brought about a culture of casualness that was not there before. So should we bring back professionalism to virtual meetings?

There is a thing amongst some authors that the blazer is essential. Jackets for men and a classic blazer for women always look good. I remember at one meeting, three women had the same jacket on with white tops underneath. They all joked that none of the other authors had received the memo. Now, I like blazers and jackets, but I don't think they are necessary, a crisp, well-ironed shirt can do the job.

A woman in a white shirt looking towards a laptop screen. On screen is a man with headphones and microphone towards his mouth. He is also wearing a white shirt. The rest of the room is in white including desk and chair.
Less clutter is best for online meetings

If virtual meetings are plagued by technical issues, unprofessional audio, and distractions, this puts everyone in a bad mood. It may lead to people becoming frustrated and leaving before you even start. Some colleagues may even be rude to you before they leave.

With the online meetings I have attended, it is usually the lighting that lets people down. If the lighting in the room is not sufficient or you are backlit causing your face to be dark, it can be distracting for others. Also, if your audio keeps breaking up, it may be better to turn your video off to improve sound quality. This happens more often than not, especially if colleagues are all familiar with each other.

Now, authors attending online meetings should avoid the urge to talk over people, promote their books too much, and talk about themselves constantly. Every author loves their own stories, so give everyone a chance to have a go. Also, try not to run overtime as authors want to spend time writing. When we have precious little time to write, we don't want to waste too much time having meetings.

It is nice to chat and catch up, especially when everyone in the meeting knows each other. This is a good thing to do when you first join, but keep it quick and then move on. Online meetings are still meetings, so their purpose is the same as if you were face-to-face.

Here are some other tips on how to have a successful online meeting -

  • Work from a quiet room or area - avoid others coming into the room

  • Don't eat with your camera on - drinking is allowed

  • Use neutral background and minimise clutter

  • Create good lighting - use of a white ring light can help

  • Use a laptop for better quality

  • Technical setup - check everything is working before joining

  • Raise your webcam to eye level and look into the camera, not the screen

  • Dress the part - take the time to look professional and act appropriately

  • Avoid using bad language, swearing is never appropriate

  • Avoid multitasking - you will miss important elements. Even when your camera is off, be present and contribute when asked to.

Every company is different when it comes to online meetings, the key is to remember that you are still in a professional environment, so behave appropriately.

How do you feel about online meetings? Do you prefer them to face-to-face ones? Share your experiences with online meetings in the comments.

Happy meetings ... err, I mean, reading

Maria P Frino


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