Expert insight

Virtual meeting etiquette: 7 dos and don’ts

1 May 2018

Do you behave in virtual meetings in ways you never would face-to-face? Here are seven dos and don’ts to remember.

Utilising video or web conferencing technology for meetings is a practical alternative to travelling: it’s often better for an employee’s health and wellbeing, not to mention the fact that it is cheaper. Yet virtual meetings can be fraught with difficulties, while employees can often behave inappropriately – take the 60% of people who admitted to checking social media while on a conference call. We’ve looked at what the experts have to say about the dos and don’ts of virtual meetings.

1. Do use video

Speaking to Harvard Business Review (HBR), Keith Ferrazzi, author of Who’s Got Your Back, insists that virtual meetings should always be conducted by video. Nothing beats seeing people’s facial expressions, he says: “Video makes people feel more engaged because it allows team members to see each other’s emotions and reactions, which immediately humanises the room.”

2. Don’t be late

Log in a few minutes beforehand to make sure your equipment and call details are working. Wayne Turmel, author of Meet Like You Mean It, suggests going one step further and scheduling meetings at 15 minutes past the hour. “This will build in some buffer time in people’s schedules,” he says.

3. Don’t multitask

It may be tempting to reply to an email or check your phone while on a conference call; however, research has consistently shown that people are unable to multitask. In an interview with HBR, Francesca Gino, author of Sidetracked: Why Our Decisions Get Derailed, and How We Can Stick to the Plan, suggests that devices should be banned from all meetings as they distract us, saying: “Studies show that a person who is attempting to multitask takes 50% longer to accomplish a task and he or she makes up to 50% more mistakes.” Give the meeting your full attention.

4. Do have a break

If you are leading the meeting, build time into your agenda for a break. Speaking to Capita Travel and Events, psychologist and author Phillip Adcock says: “We find it difficult to focus for periods of more than 20 minutes. Therefore, to keep everyone’s attention, make sure you build time into a long meeting for breaks. That way, everyone stays alert – and will be more likely to take your points on board.”

5. Do contribute – but not too much

There’s nothing worse than long silences during a virtual meeting; yet it’s equally as annoying if somebody monopolises the conversation. In Forbes, Neal Hartman, a senior lecturer in managerial communication at MIT Sloan School of Management, suggests that the leader should tactfully say that while they appreciate the person’s contribution, they need input from others. “Establishing ground rules early on will create a framework for how your group functions,” he adds.

6. Don’t interrupt others

Speaking to Inc., Susan Colaric, assistant vice president of Instructional Technology at Saint Leo University, advises that participants should bring attention to themselves before addressing the group “by signalling with your hand or saying ‘question’ or ‘comment’ and then waiting a couple seconds before continuing”. There can often be a two-second delay on conferencing systems, so this tactic can prevent people from interrupting one another.

7. Do take notes using pen and paper

If you’re taking notes, be sure to leave your laptop at your desk. Typing frantically is not only noisy, a recent study by American academics found that pen and paper trumps computer when retaining conceptual information in the long term.

For more guidance and advice on meetings, contact our experts at Capita Travel and Events.


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