Face-to-face meetings have traditionally been the main way that businesses and organizations have exchanged information and collaborated. As technology advances, however, more and more businesses are turning to online meetings. Many companies now have at least one conference room equipped with a video camera and a large screen display for video meetings. Employees are also leveraging their laptops and personal computers for online meetings. This gives them the freedom to take their work anywhere they have an internet connection.
Online meetings can be very convenient, but they are not without their own set of challenges. The unique differences between interacting with other people over a video call versus face-to-face can cause everything from miscommunication to hurt feelings. In this text we will discuss some tips for good online meeting etiquette that can help you to avoid these issues.
Rise Of Online Meetings
Online meetings have grown in popularity in recent years. This is due in part to the advent of online conferencing systems and platforms like Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams. These solutions have made it possible for anyone with a computer and an internet connection to hold a video conference with the click of a mouse. Online meetings have a number of advantages over traditional face-to-face meetings. They are more convenient and less expensive. There is no need to reserve and pay for a conference room, buy food for everyone, or arrange transportation. Employees can easily schedule a meeting with coworkers and clients from their own home or office.
Online meetings are also useful for businesses that employ remote workers. Video conferencing makes it possible for employees to interact with each other and stakeholders while they are not in the office. This can improve productivity, collaboration, and communication within a business. This makes video conferencing a good solution for companies that have employees and clients spread out over a large geographic area.
Unique Challenges Of Video Meetings
Video meetings have several unique challenges compared to face-to-face interactions. The following are some of the most common challenges encountered during online meetings.
1. Latency Of Communication
Communicating over the Internet involves latency factors. This means that it takes a certain amount of time for the message to reach the other party and for them to respond. Each hop in the communications channel (WiFi, Cable, DSL, cellular network, etc.) adds to the latency. This can be frustrating when you are trying to interact with someone over a video call.
Business users have grown accustomed to quick responses from their colleagues. When they are participating in an online meeting, they expect timely responses from the other participants. This means that they often will interrupt the other parties in order to get their point across, when the issue is really just call latency.
2. Potential For Distraction
Many video calls are attended from a laptop or personal computer. This may tempt the user to multitask while they are on the call. This can lead to distractions that take away from the call or meeting.
3. Not Enough Context To Read Tone And Emotion
It is often difficult to gauge the mood of another person when you can only see their face. There is also a certain amount of context that you can pick up when you are interacting with someone in person. You can see their body language. You can get a sense of their mood. This is all missing from a video call, making it much more difficult to determine the other person's emotional state.
Tips For Good Online Meeting Etiquette
While there are challenges associated with online meetings, they are not impossible to overcome. With a little preparation and some good habits, you can make your next online meeting go much more smoothly. Here are 25 tips for good online meeting etiquette.
1. Meeting Preparation
One of the best ways to avoid a lot of the common pitfalls of online meetings is to prepare. A good rule of thumb is to have everything you need to have an effective meeting before you start. This includes having all of the documents and data that will be useful for the meeting. It also means that you should have a good understanding of the topics that will be discussed and how they will be covered. If you are using an AI meeting assistant capable of transcribing your calls and meetings, this is very easy to do. These systems can be used to ease meeting prep by providing context into previous relevant discussions, information on the other participants, and a historical summary of the meeting topic. This allows you to be well prepared before the meeting starts.
2. Agendas Matter
Quality agendas are important in any meeting. This is even more true with online meetings where there are more opportunities for things getting derailed. You should always strive to have an agenda for your online meetings. The agenda should be clear and concise and easy to understand, and should ideally be socialized prior to the meeting. This will give everyone time to prepare and ensure that they are clear on the topics and key discussion points.
3. Be Professional
Being professional is important for any type of meeting, but it is especially true for online meetings. The convenience of being able to attend a video call from anywhere means that there is more flexibility for when and where you can meet. This can make it easy to forget that other people are involved in the meeting. You should always attend an online meeting as if you were at a professional face-to-face meeting. This includes dressing appropriately, arriving on time, and ensuring you are in a quiet place with good lighting and a stable internet connection.
4. Listen First
Listening is the most important part of any meeting. It is especially true with online meetings where people are often communicating over a video call. When listening to other participants in an online meeting, it is important to allow them to finish speaking before you respond. This will help you to avoid the impact of Internet latency and ensure that you are giving the other participants room to fully express themselves.
Monologuing is another common issue that people encounter during online meetings. This means that you talk a lot without giving others a chance to speak. It is important to avoid monologuing during online meetings. Latency factors mean you must pause more explicitly when you are talking to give other participants enough time to respond.
5. Know Your Audience
The composition of your audience is very important when you are participating in an online meeting. You should be aware of the skill levels and expectations of your audience when preparing for a meeting. Doing basic research on the other participants will help you to tune your delivery to the needs of your audience. This will help you to keep everyone engaged. It will also help you to frame the discussion in a way that makes it accessible to everyone involved.
Depending on who is in the meeting, you may have to adjust your particular style of communication. This may involve changing the terminology you use, slowing down your speech, or even using a more casual tone of voice. Being aware of the composition of your audience will help you to avoid any communication mishaps.
6. Show Up Early
One of the biggest pitfalls of online meetings is potential technical difficulties joining a call. There are a number of steps that you can take to improve the chances of your call going smoothly. One of the best ways to do this is to show up early. This will give you more time to troubleshoot any problems that may arise.
If the video call requires a native software client, it is also important to download the software ahead of time and make sure it is working correctly. Doing this before the meeting will give you time to adjust any settings or run any updates that are needed for the call. You should ideally test this in advance to make sure it is working correctly.
7. Use Facts And Data
When sharing information, you should focus on using data and facts to support your points. This will help you to avoid falling into the trap of making assumptions or presenting opinions as facts. This will make your points more convincing and ensure that they are more easily remembered.
It is also important to avoid excessive use of jargon or acronyms when you are communicating in an online meeting. A lot of the time, this will go over the head of your audience and cause confusion. You should focus on using more clear and straightforward language when you are communicating on video calls.
8. Stay In The Present
When you are participating in an online meeting, it is important to stay in the present. It is tempting to allow your thoughts to wander or daydream during the meeting. This can be a big problem for online meetings. If you are not paying attention to the call, you are less likely to be able to follow along with the discussion. It will also make it more difficult for you to respond when it is your turn to speak.
9. Encourage Questions
An important part of any meeting is encouraging questions from others. When you are participating in a video call, you should always be on the lookout for questions from other participants. You can encourage questions by giving everyone a chance to share their thoughts. You can also use the presentation slides or any other information that is being shared during the meeting to prompt questions from other participants.
Many questions can be addressed in real time, but others will be better served by a good follow up email. Knowing when to parking lot items and follow up later is an important skill to develop when you are participating in online meetings. AI note taking can help ensure nothing is missed during the meeting and that follow up items can be easily identified.
10. Don't Show Disinterest
Even if you are not interested in the topic being discussed, you should approach it in a way that shows you are engaged. This will help to keep the other participants from feeling ignored or neglected. It will also help to keep the discussion moving in a way that is beneficial to everyone involved. Good engagement often reveals hidden insights that would otherwise be missed if you are tuned out of the conversation.
11. Don't Pass Judgement
When collaborating with others, it is important to avoid passing judgement on other participants. Even if you disagree with someone or think that they are wrong, it is important to approach the discussion with a cooperative and non-judgemental tone. If you show that you are open to other people's ideas, it will make them more open to yours.
12. Keep It Short And Sweet
Meetings are difficult enough as it is. The longer a video call goes on, the harder it will be for the other participants to maintain their attention. You should strive to keep your points short and sweet. You can keep your points short by being concise and avoiding any unnecessary details. You should also avoid using any filler words such as "um" or "ah".
AI meeting assistants can be used to help you quantify how you are communicating in meetings, by showing your total talk time, length of your monologues, level of engagement per person and more. Being able to get some real data on your communication style is a great way to assess how you can improve in the future.
13. Keep The Volume Low
It is easy to accidentally turn up the volume on your microphone during an online meeting. This will lead to people having to deal with the noise from your microphone. It can also be a major distraction for people in other locations who do not have easy access to a volume control, such as those in conference rooms. To avoid these issues, you should be aware of your volume level and take the time to ask others if they can hear you well.
14. Learn How/When To Mute
If you are not speaking, it is often a good idea to mute your microphone. This will make it easier for other participants to hear the discussion and ensure that you do not disrupt the flow of the call with background noise (typing, barking dogs, etc).
Another common issue is forgetting when you have muted your microphone. This can lead to some embarrassing moments when you start talking and everyone on the call cannot hear you. To avoid this, you should remember to check your microphone mute status if you are about to speak.
15. Turn On Your Camera
If you are on a video call, it is a good idea to make sure your camera is on. People will have a much harder time paying attention to what you are saying if they cannot see you. Being able to see you will also help to increase their trust in you and make it easier to build solid working relationships.
16. Realize When You're On Camera
It is also important to realize when you are on camera. Forgetting to turn off your camera can lead to some awkward moments. It can also be a major distraction for people in other locations if you are seen doing other things doing the call (eating, looking at your phone, etc). It is important to understand that people are looking at you while you are on camera and make sure you are representing yourself in a professional manner.
17. Refrain From Interrupting
One of the biggest challenges of online meetings is dealing with interruptions. When you are participating in an online meeting, you should make a point of refraining from interrupting others when they are speaking. This will help to avoid confusion and keep the discussion moving forward in a timely manner.
It is also important to avoid excessive interjection during an online meeting while others are speaking. You should instead wait for your turn to speak and then make sure you get your point across in a concise and direct manner. Interjections that would be entirely appropriate in-person can be disruptive in a video call due to latency and other factors.
18. Develop A Note Taking Strategy
Meetings require a lot of note taking. You can keep your notes more organized by developing a strategy for your note taking. You should consider creating a table of contents that divides up your notes based on the topics being discussed. It is also important to avoid writing too much during the meeting. In most cases, less is more when it comes to note taking.
You should also consider using AI-based automatic note taking tools to keep track of your notes during the meeting. A good AI assistant can transcribe and summarize your notes as you make them and create a searchable archive that will be ready for you when you need it. This will help to reduce the time it takes to prepare your notes after the meeting and make them easier to share with the rest of your team.
19. Use AI Assistants To Record Your Online Meetings
When you are participating in an online meeting, it is always a good idea to use call recording whenever possible. Recordings serve as a great way to ensure that knowledge is captured and saved. They can also be a great tool for reviewing meeting outcomes after the meeting is over. AI call and meeting capture solutions can be used to help you record your meetings. These systems sync with your company calendar, automatically joining meetings that you have been invited to.
AI call and meeting capture has a number of benefits over manual recording, such as ensuring meeting outcomes are not lost because someone forgot to hit the record button. These systems also offload the heavy lifting of video processing, transcoding, transcription, and other tasks to the cloud. This can help to reduce the load on your system and ensure you always have all of your recordings even if you switch between computers.
20. Share Notes And Outcomes With Your Team
The final challenge that comes with online meetings is ensuring that everyone on the call shares their notes with the rest of the team. Manual sharing of these files can be a major hassle and lead to important content being lost or forgotten. AI meeting assistants can be used to quickly and easily share your notes with the rest of your team. These systems also make it easy to annotate and share meeting outcomes, ensuring that everyone is on the same page when it comes to making decisions.
While online meetings can be challenging, they are still an important part of our modern business world. With the right preparation and tools, you can make your next online meeting go much more smoothly.