Do You Know the Etiquette for Video Conferences?

The pandemic has integrated video conferencing into our society.  It has become so widespread it will be a normal part of our life now.  Its introduction has not been without some legendary mistakes captured for the world to see.

  • A reporter on Good Morning America had on his coat and dress shirt. Only his camera showed a wider angle that included him without his pants.
  • In Florida, a seven year old decided to relocate to her mom’s bed while in her virtual class. Mom unknowingly walked out of the bathroom and gave the first grade class a full nude view of her.
  • The faux pas winner has to be a man in Brazil. On a conference with the President of Brazil, the man decides to take a shower.  Without turning off the audio or video he takes his device with him into the bathroom.  The noise from the shower ensured he was noticed.

There are far too many more of these stories on the internet.  This information will try to help you keep from joining this list of shame. 

These rules apply for all types of video meetings with Apple Facetime, Facebook Messenger Rooms, Google Meet, Google Hangout, Microsoft Skype, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom.


Before The Meeting

I.  Preparation is the most important step of all!!!

Your goal should be to minimize problems or distractions by preparing ahead of time.

  1. Learn to use your software before the day of the meeting! Be familiar with how to turn your audio and video off and on 
  2. Check out the other features in case you will need them during the meeting
    1. See how to use the record feature, this could be particularly useful
    2. If you need to share information from your computer, look at the screenshare function
  3. Virtual backgrounds will need to be set up ahead of time
    1. Test your clothes to ensure you do not become a floating head
  4. Zoom has a feature called Touch Up My Appearance which is basically a softening filter like you find on Instagram, Facetune, or your phone’s selfie camera.

II.  Use the software to call a friend or coworker to practice

  1. Set up the location you will be using in advance.
    1. Find a quiet space without background noise and close the door
    2. Tell others in your locations you will be busy, no interruptions
    3. Look at your background
    4. Do not sit with the bathroom door, the kitchen, for anywhere people will be coming or going behind you
    5. Be aware that sitting in front of a window can cause lighting problems

III.  Check your lighting

Facing even natural light is the most flattering because accentuates and brightens your skin and features, making you look more natural on camera

If you need more light, a soft light in front of you will provide the best lighting

IV.  Position your camera at eye level

Bad camera position can have others looking up your nostrils, down your blouse, or give you a double-chin appearance

Stack large books under your computer if necessary, just be sure it is stable

V.  Record yourself and watch the playback

This way you can test everything including your performance

Meeting Time

  1. Connect early, at least 5 minutes before the meeting start time
  2. Allow time to enter a password, test your sound level, or handle setup issues
  3. Keep your mute on unless you are contributing
  4. When you are talking make the audience feel like you’re really talking to them.
  5. Check your appearance before you start talking, not during your talk
  6. Have your information ready to present
  7. Practice ahead of time and record yourself for your best performance
  8. Look directly at the camera to mimic the in-person feeling of eye contact
  9. Scan the faces of others to gauge their reaction, but return your gaze to the camera

VI.  When others are talking show you are listening

Provide non-verbal feedback by nodding, smiling or gesturing

In small groups, soft verbal feedback like “OK” or “mmmm” can be acceptable

Be aware of others trying to speak and do not talk over them

People are watching, do not be checking your phone, looking at other websites, typing, playing games, eating, picking your nose, scratching yourself, or things that show you are not paying attention

VII.  Keep your video on unless you are experiencing connection issues

Internet problems happen, if you experience lagging or skipping try using the computer for video and dial in by phone for the audio

If you do have a problem, put a message in chat or text the host so they will understand

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