“Good manners reflect something from inside–an innate sense of 

consideration for others and respect for self.”

― Emily Post

Etiquette in the office can make or break certain situations in the workplace. Knowing what to wear, what to say, and how to act can be crucial for your success. Unfortunately, many of these social rules are unspoken and have to be learned through experience. 

Now, in the era of remote work, many professional interactions take place in video conferences. While this has brought modern convenience to working life, it has also added another layer of complication–like in-person meetings, video conferences have their own social protocol. But don’t panic: we’ve written the unwritten rules of video conference etiquette. This guide will help you ensure that your video calls will go as smoothly as possible. 

Video conferencing etiquette before the call

The bottom line is this: make sure everything works beforehand. There’s nothing more stressful than logging into an important call, only to realize that something’s not right. It’s no fun to have to send frantic text messages to colleagues and clients explaining that you’re going to be a few minutes late because of technical difficulties. The best way to avoid technical problems (and save yourself from stress) is to make sure everything is working beforehand. Here are a few things to check at least an hour before you start your call: 

  • Ask yourself: could this meeting be an email? Video conferencing has become a very normal part of our everyday work lives. However, not everything needs to be handled with a live discussion. If a matter could be more quickly handled via email, Slack, or a quick phone call, opt for those options. If you need to have a more extended conversation or hold a remote training session, a video call is the way to go.
  • Choose the right equipment. In a world where virtual work is the norm, your online presence says a lot about who you are. Showing your best requires the right equipment. Make sure that you’re using a high-quality webcam and microphone. If you’re in a position to equip your office with tools for an entire team of employees, consider investing in some enterprise-grade AV devices. This can include smart-framing cameras, soundproofing equipment, interactive touch displays, beamforming microphone arrays, and more. Work with a professional AV installer to get the most bang for your buck.
  • Test your internet connection. We’ve all been there: you’re delivering an important presentation, meeting a client for the first time, or engaging in a meaningful discussion when your connection drops off and the call comes to a screeching halt. Prevent these awkward moments by proactively checking your internet connection. If you have a friend or colleague handy, you can quickly check your connection by holding a quick test call with them. If you want to go the extra mile, pay a quick visit to an internet speed test website. Different video conferencing apps use different amounts of bandwidth, so make sure that your connection is strong enough to support the particular platform you’re using. Use these links to check bandwidth requirements on your provider’s website:
Zoom Microsoft Teams Blue JeansSkypeWebEx Cisco
  • Try out your camera, microphone, and any other hardware you’re planning on using.  Most video conferencing platforms will give you the option to test your camera and microphone before you log in to a call. Check your providers’ settings menu if you can’t find the option to test your equipment at first glance. 
  • Do a quick trial run with your background and lighting. Once you’ve figured out how to do a test call, ensure that your background and lighting look professional.
    • Position the camera in front of a clean, non-distracting backdrop. A plain wall will do just fine. If you can’t find a spot with a clear view, you can also use a virtual or blurred background–just make sure to test it beforehand!
    • If possible, make sure your face is lit from the front. For the best results, position yourself so that your face is directly lit with natural light. If the sun isn’t an option, place a steady lamp in front of your face. Avoid sidelight backlight–If you’re sitting directly in front or beside a window or lamp, your face will appear dark and unclear on screen.
  • Check your noise level. Is there construction happening outside your office? Coworkers having loud discussions in the background? Try and position your device in a quiet place. If you can’t escape the noise, consider rescheduling or using a white noise machine to drown out background sounds.
  • Dress for your audience. It’s true that webcams only capture what’s directly in front of them. We’ve all seen memes picturing a remote worker in front of a computer with a button-up shirt and tie on top and nothing but boxer shorts on the bottom. While we do recommend that trousers should always be worn during a video call, the advent of remote work has indeed caused definitive changes in what’s appropriate for the workday. People have switched out slacks, skirts, and collared tops for more comfortable options. So, you don’t necessarily need to wear a suit–but making an effort to look professional can go a long way. 

Video conferencing etiquette during the call 

Now that you’ve made sure everything is working, it’s time to sign into the call. There are several things that you can do to make sure that you’re being as courteous as possible while a meeting is underway. 

  • Be punctual. As the old saying goes, “early is on time, and on time is late.” Never is this more true than with video calls. It can take an extra minute or two to get signed in. Avoid being late by logging in five to ten minutes early.
  • Don’t talk over other participants. Video call conversations flow a little differently than in-person meetings. It’s not necessarily as easy to smoothly interject as it would be if you were sitting in the room with someone. Therefore, the best practice is to make sure that someone has finished speaking before talking. Wait for a natural lull in the conversation before adding your own thoughts. When possible, use the platform’s chat function to ask questions and make comments, so that the speaker can address them in their own time.
  • Turn off your mic when you’re not using it. When a video call has several participants, even the quietest of background sounds–typing, writing, and sipping coffee–can quickly add up. Make sure that your mic is muted when you’re not speaking to prevent disrupting a meeting.
  • Make eye contact. We know–it’s not really possible to make eye contact with someone in a video call. After all, when you’re looking at their face, you’re automatically looking away from the camera. However, you can make your eyes as visible as possible by looking directly into the camera when speaking. Move the video window as close as possible to where your camera is located so your eyes are visible when you’re watching someone else speak. 
  • Avoid distractions. It can be easy to get distracted during a video call–particularly if you’re not doing a lot of speaking yourself. Close out any background applications and switch your phone to “Do Not Disturb” to avoid daydreaming. 
  • Stay still. If you’re joining the call from a mobile device, try and keep it in a stable position. If possible, set it on a stable surface. If you’re holding your device, try not to walk around or shift too much–this can be disorienting for fellow call participants.

Video conferencing etiquette after the call 

While there’s no set protocol for what to do after a call has ended, it’s important to take the appropriate follow-up steps. This can include things like sending a thank-you note, a summary of actionable items decided during the call, or asking for further information about what was discussed. 

When in doubt, err on the side of personal touch–it’s always good to connect with colleagues and clients when the chance presents itself. And in a world where in-person interactions are more few and far between than ever, a personal approach has never been more important. 

To learn more about how to make your video conference experiences as successful as possible, check out our other blog posts. And to get expert advice for your AV solutions, schedule a complimentary consultation.