Business meetings held in virtual settings come with some familiar rules and some different ones. Be sure you follow them to maintain your professional polish—even if you’re secretly wearing shorts.
Even though you’re probably working in a more casual environment these days, when you’re in a remote meeting, don’t forget your professional etiquette. Here are a few rules to brush up on before your next video call:
Don’t get too casual. Working at home, your instinct might be to dress down. But FlexJobs CEO Sara Sutton Fell, speaking to PC World, argues that your attire should match what would normally be expected at the office. “Your appearance should still be professional and reflect the organization you work for,” she said. “My company is fairly casual, so it’s OK to be in casual attire as long as you look presentable. However, if the people you are meeting with will be in suits, you should dress the same.” Just ask the lawyers in Broward County, Florida, who got an earful over the summer about dress code from a state judge: “Let’s treat court hearings as court hearings, whether Zooming or not,” Judge Dennis Bailey wrote in a letter published by the Weston Bar Association.
Minimize distractions. If you’re meeting with someone in person, it’s usually considered rude to be looking at your phone or laptop instead of listening to what they’re saying. These distractions don’t go away during remote meetings, and there are additional ones to worry about, too, including background noise or poorly considered visuals. “Distractions make a significant impact on a video conference,” Vast Conference’s Jamie Davidson says. “It’s tempting to think that just because you aren’t in the same room as your fellow attendees they won’t notice you scrolling through your phone or composing an email on another screen.” But often they will. And speaking of technology, take time to ensure your gadgets are working before the meeting, rather than wasting people’s time with testing when the meeting should be getting started.
Be prepared. It’s bad form to take remote meetings without being prepared for the format or doing your homework in advance. “Be proactive and ask ahead of time about expectations if the organizer hasn’t provided upfront information,” Davidson says. “You want to be as prepared as possible.”
Show your human side. But all of this professional talk has its limits in the COVID-19 era. “The lack of real-world relationships is amplifying our need for human connection. Build in extra time for heartfelt people-to-people check-ins,” personal branding expert William Arruda writes for Forbes. “Add it to every agenda to ensure enough time and to show how important it is to the participants. And remember to shower others with praise that is due to them.”