It’s official. Businesses are embracing the remote work model. According to experts, 40.7 million American professionals will be fully remote in the next five years.
What does this mean for young professionals?
This means that your online meeting etiquette needs to be flawless from day one because online meetings could be the primary—or only—face-to-face communication that you have with your boss and colleagues. But no pressure, right? 🙂
At Spencer Crane Etiquette, we show the young professional how modern business etiquette can boost her confidence and give her an edge over the competition.
Fortunately, online meeting etiquette is an easy skill to master. Here are 5 of my favorite dos and don’ts to get you started:
- Dress the part. Wearing work attire for an online meeting might seem like overkill, but dressing the part signals to your boss and colleagues that you can do the job. Even if you’re working from home, brush your teeth, comb your hair, and wear a clean, wrinkle-free top that you’d wear to an in-office meeting. And if there is even the tiniest chance you’ll need to stand up (and there always is!), wear a work-appropriate bottom.
- Reduce distractions. Do your best to create a distraction-free experience for the other meeting participants. First, always wear earbuds. Next, if you’re at home and your workspace has a door, close it. Also, consider posting a note on the door to notify your partner or roommate(s) that you’re in an online meeting and should not be disturbed. Include the time the session will end to eliminate those “just checking to see if you’re finished” knocks on the door.
- Adjust your camera. We’ve all had the experience of taking an online meeting with someone whose device is positioned so that we only see the top half of their face, or worse, up their nose. Awkward. Rule of thumb: position your device’s camera at eye level.
- Mute your audio. Mute your audio when you’re not talking so that the person who is speaking can be heard without interruption. It’s a sign of respect, and it shows that you’re a professional.
- Plan ahead. Nothing says disorganized like holding up the meeting while you download or troubleshoot the meeting platform’s software. Set a reminder a day or two before the meeting to ensure that you have the software you need and it’s working.
- Show up late. Would you arrive late to an in-office meeting? I hope not! Arriving on time shows your boss and colleagues that you respect their busy schedules. Make it a habit to log in 5-6 minutes before meetings are scheduled to begin. You can always mute your audio and turn off your camera until the meeting host signals it’s time to start. (For more tips on punctuality in the workplace, see chapter 3 of my book Modern Business Etiquette for Young & Fabulous Professionals.)
- Multi-task. Multi-tasking is the enemy of every online meeting. Plan to give your complete attention. Turn off your phone’s ringer and notifications. Use body language that can help you focus: sit up straight and avoid leaning on your elbows. Actively participating in the meeting shows that you’re an engaged member of the team.
- Sit in the dark. Don’t squander your face-to-face opportunities by sitting in the dark. Be sure there is a source of light behind your device to eliminate the shadows that can darken your room and make you look tired. Sunlight works, but an artificial light source is more dependable. I use a Lume Cube, but you don’t need fancy equipment; a table lamp will do just fine.
- Use a “fun” background. If you plan to use a virtual background, choose something simple and professional. In a virtual business world, the online meeting is precious face time. You want the focus to be on you, not on your “woman yelling at cat” background. (Yes, it’s a thing. Look it up!)
- Sit on your bed. Never take an online meeting from your bed. It makes you look unprofessional, and it can cause your boss and colleagues to question your credibility. If your bed is the only workspace that you have, use a virtual background to hide it. The same goes for working in your bedroom; use a virtual background to ensure your bed isn’t visible during online meetings.
I hope these simple tips help you to master your online meeting etiquette!
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Stayce Wagner is the author of Modern Business Etiquette for Young & Fabulous Professionals, available at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, the iTunes Store, and other major outlets. Stayce is the founder and CEO of Spencer Crane Etiquette, LLC, where business etiquette and authenticity are partners, not rivals. We invite you to contact us today to discuss how we can help you with your business etiquette needs.