etiquette for virtual meetings

Sunethra Jayaratne Nugawela shares her top tips to maximize your professionalism in virtual meetings

The fast tempo of technology is controlling our lives. Our lifestyles are constantly undergoing drastic changes. Our working methodologies are different and difficult, and they keep changing. The pandemic continues to monopolize the globe with additional burdens on health workers and allied professionals. No doubt, there are jobs at risk. Employees are depressed, given the pay cuts and curtailment of various other fringe benefits. Some have lost their jobs already. Employers have diverted their thinking towards sustainability and survival. Everything is upside down.

The use of virtual meetings continues to increase and, with many new platforms available to use, Assistants have been compelled to master the operational part of these platforms and keep up with their innovations. Assistants have become better at convening virtual meetings than physical meetings! My intention in this article is to share some important tips on etiquette in virtual meetings. Whether you are a meeting convener or a participant, you can maximize your professionalism.

1. Be Punctual

Time is precious, and it counts as money in the corporate world. Professionals exhibit professionalism by being on time. Attending on time is a crucial factor for a successful meeting. Whether you are the meeting convener or a participant, log in a few minutes prior to the meeting’s scheduled beginning time so that accuracy and promptness is maintained, technological issues are rectified, and you are connected. Above all, make sure you are comfortable. If you are delayed at the last minute by events outside of your control, ensure you keep the host informed.

2. Be Aware of Your Microphone

The best practice is to keep your microphone on mute and unmute only to speak when necessary or when it is your turn. Microphones are very sensitive to sound; the speaker picks up every little noise. Your voice is your power to gain the attention of the participants. Being respectful is common courtesy, but common courtesies are not so common! Remain professional, and do not get angry or unruly, ever.

3. Be Aware of Your Camera

Turn your camera on, but remember that it is also very sensitive and captures everything you do and whatever is around you. Your actions and reactions, such as yawning, eating, or drinking, are seen by others, so concentrate and be aware of when to turn your video on and off. Create a professional impression by being properly dressed at all meetings: think smart casual rather than casual. Your camera needs to be positioned properly so that it is directed at you and so that what you share onscreen is clear and visible. Although a minor point, this is usually ignored but contributes heavily to the quality of the meeting.

4. Pay Attention

Be fully present. Pay attention. Avoid multi-tasking. People have invited you to a meeting for a purpose. Ensure your presence at the meeting is purpose-driven and constructive.

5. Think!

If you are the host, your responsibility is greater. Be prepared. Keep the agenda intact. If needed, introduce the participants or invite them to introduce themselves. Pronounce names correctly. Meticulously prepare any necessary documents. Once the meeting is over, adjourn in a professional manner.

6. Additional Tips

  • Put your mobile phone to silent and avoid using it unless it is a necessity
  • Do not interrupt
  • Listen carefully
  • Wait for the host to declare discussion time
  • If clarifications are needed, request them politely
  • Use your best manners from beginning to end
  • Speak clearly
  • If you are new to a virtual meeting platform, spend some time mastering it beforehand

In today’s context, virtual meetings are unavoidable. The future will be more demanding, with more and more innovations based on technology. As such, keep your eyes open and be ready on the go!

Good luck with your virtual meetings!

Dr Sunethra Jayaratne Nugawela is the Chairperson and Executive Director of the Academy for Administrative Professionals in Sri Lanka and an Executive Secretary at SDB Bank. She is a trainer, coach, mentor, examiner, visiting lecturer and associate of the ... (Read More)

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