The sudden outbreak of Covid-19 has drastically changed the way businesses operate worldwide. Social distancing and travel restrictions have forced many businesses to move from conventional conference rooms to virtual meeting platforms. And as the trend suggests, web and video conferencing is here to stay. This puts greater emphasis on online business meeting etiquette.
Apparently it might sound easy and fun to meet and collaborate online with business parterns, associates and co-workers. But the fact is too informal an approach can lead to serious meeting gaffe which you will later find tough to mend. In case you don’t know already, online business meeting etiquette is quite different from in-person meetings, and you might take weeks and even months to master the skill!
To make the task easier for you, here I am going to discuss 9 simple yet effective rules of online business meeting etiquette, which business owners and professionals need to master and follow sincerely.
So, let’s start!
Follow a Proper Dress Code- The Often Overlooked but Necessary Online Business Meeting Etiquette
You might be tempted to attend the meeting in casuals, may be a comfortable T-shirt and old jeans. But remember, the dress won’t make you look professional. Rather the attendees will have this impression that you are not so serious about the meeting.
So, it is very important to get properly dressed to appear professional and presentable. Ask yourself, what would have been your dress code, in case you need to attend an in-office meeting?
By the way, you can take some liberty in chosing a comfortable bottomwear and slippers, provided the meeting setup is such that your teammates won’t be able to see what you’re wearing waist down.
Check The System Setup and Network Before Starting the Virtual Meeting
Are you going to use any online meeting app? Then make sure that it is loading well. Read the instructions and guidelines in advance. Also, if possible share these with the team members so that they can do own preparation.
As a safety measure, you should also verify if your mobile data is ready in case the Wifi connection fails. A trial run of your audio system is also suggested. I am sure you know the importance of a good quality audio system. You need to clearly hear your teammates conversations and they should hear you clearly as well.
Plan the Virtual Meeting With an Agenda
If you are the one who has called the meeting, then you should prepare the agenda and share it with other team members, at least a day before.
The agenda should ideally cover points like:-
1. The virtual meeting objective and purpose
2. The points to be discussed
3. And the final outcome/decision taken
When you share the agenda, your teammates can prepare accordingly. They get to know what are the right questions to ask, what are the points to clarify, and so on.
Follow a Proper Introduction Procedure
If you’re the one who has called the meeting, then it is important that the team acknowledges your arrival. Also, it would be a great idea if you allow the participants to introduce themselves briefly.
If you are meeting the participants for the first time, a good gesture would be to remember the names so that you can address them directly whenever needed.
Remember these are the basic formalities which are usually followed during an actual meeting. And the same applies for a remote meeting too. Surely it helps break the ice, isn’t it!
Stay Focused and Engage Proactively- A Must-Follow Online Business Meeting Etiquette
You are supposed to be present throughout the meeting. So, even if you are not speaking, try not to leave your seat.
Be attentive to what your teammates are saying. Don’t interrupt when a member is expressing his/her opinion. Let them finish before you offer own thoughts.
Try not to visit other websites, no matter how urgent it is. A good idea is to mute all sorts of online notifications while the meeting is going on.
Don’t Let Unwanted Background Noise Disrupt The Meeting – The Often Ignored Online Business Meeting Etiquette!
Indeed this is an important online business meeting etiquette which is often overlooked. And trust me, lots of unpleasant background noise can lead to a total failure of your online business meeting.
Yes, it is completely understood that you can’t mute background noise totally when the meeting is conducted from home. The best you can do is mute/disconnect your mic when you are not speaking. But, yes, remember to unmute it promptly whenever you need to talk, else, you might end up embarrassing yourself!
Try to Arrange a Professional Surrounding For the Meeting
If you can manage a quiet spot at home to attend the meeting, that would be great. Turn off the volume of your TV or music player so that you can focus.
Close the door to prevent a sudden entry of kids in the background. While it’s not completely frowned upon, it may distract your teammates.
In case you can’t manage the background chaos, you can use virtual backgrounds, provided your meeting app supports it. This way you can instantly turn a messy space into a clean and professional one.
Discuss Topics As Per The Agenda
Often virtual meetings tend to take an informal turn. Participants might start discussing things not related to the agenda.
As the convener of the meeting it is your responsibility to keep track of the conversation and redirect it to the prime agenda.
May be you can give a gentle reminder whenver too much unnecessary topics start cropping up.
End The Meeting With a Proper Thank You Note!
Closing a meeting can be crucial too.
Make sure you end the meeting on time. Say a special thank you to all the attendees with a genuine smile.
If you plan to organize a second meeting to discuss further points, mention it at the end of the meeting. Tell them that you will get in touch via email/phone call to inform about the next online meeting.
Further, you can send a recording of the entire online meeting to every participant, with a Thank You note via an e-mail.
As evident from the above points, it is not that difficult to follow online business meeting etiquette. However if you are the one too conversant with conventional meeting guidelines, then you might face some difficulty adjusting to the virtual environment. Take your time and learn how to create a supportive environment and I am sure you will start loving this new method of collaboration, the virtual way!