Eye contact is important – so look directly at the camera, not at the person you’re talking to.
The phenomenon of online meetings has created a whole new world and with it new etiquette rules for Zoom and other video conferencing platforms, says Karen Donaldson, etiquette teacher, communication and body language expert and author. At first, everyone was confused and trying to figure things out, but now, after a year, there are some clear guidelines for what to do and what not to do on video calls.
It starts with a lot of communication… About communication. These are unusual times, and it’s appropriate to acknowledge the current circumstances and difficulties with video calling. It’s a new way of communicating, so plan extra time (and patience) for concerns and technical issues. After all, there are so many ways a video conference can go wrong. Now that you’ve established that we’re all pulling in the same direction, here are the top tips for Zoom etiquette.
Just because you can schedule something as a Zoom meeting doesn’t mean you should. We’ve suddenly started making every call a video call, and in some cases the phone would be easier, more effective, and save time. If there’s no reason to see the faces of the participants, don’t put up with the added stress and bandwidth of a video call. Learn these other golden rules for working from home.
With virtual meetings, it can be tempting to invite everyone because there’s not enough room. Don’t do that. Just like real meetings in the workplace, it’s not necessary to invite people simply out of courtesy. If the content or purpose of the conversation doesn’t relate directly to one person, don’t invite or invite that person to participate.
The most common faux pas people make on Zoom calls? They stare at the other person’s video box or video thumbnail. It may feel counterintuitive, but it’s polite to look directly at the camera. It feels a little awkward at first, but trust me, the other person will feel like you’re looking directly at them. This tip is especially important for business zoom meetings where nonverbal body language is just as important, if not more so, than what you’ve to say.
If you don’t pay attention to when you’re muted, you’ll quickly come off as a Zoom novice. Proper zoom etiquette states that you remain muted when you aren’t speaking. This blocks out background noise, electronic notifications, and other distracting sounds like chewing gum or water. Just look for the mute icon so you don’t forget to unmute when it’s your turn to speak. One of the most repeated phrases these days is, “Wait, you’re still muted!”
People are easily distracted during video calls and will be distracted by your dirty piles of laundry on the floor or your fascinating glass collection. Yes, you can set up your environment to be neat and tidy and less distracting, but the easiest solution is to use one of the zoom backgrounds that automatically blur your surroundings. If you need something to laugh about, check out these funny things that all online learners can relate to.
A Zoom call with video turned off is nothing more than a phone call with poor audio quality. The point of a video chat is for participants to see each other, and turning off the camera is rude. If you turn off the camera, you’re either signalling that you look messy or that you want to multitask during the meeting instead of giving your full, undivided attention. If you’re concerned about your safety, you should know how to cover your laptop’s camera.