Whether you love or hate virtual meetings, they’re a key part of remote and hybrid workspaces — and they’re here to stay. And, while you may have been around the video call block a few times, you can still improve the experience.
Whether you’re the participant no one can hear, the speaker who wonders if people are really listening or just playing Tetris in another tab, or you’re tired of interruptions and late arrivals, there’s always room to make virtual meetings better.
Brush up on your video conferencing etiquette with our eight tips for effective virtual meetings.
8 tips for successful virtual meetings
Whether you use Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype, GoToMeeting, or another virtual meeting software, the tips below will help you and your team run smooth, engaging, and (relatively) hiccup-free online meetings. Let’s face it — no one in the world can guarantee completely issue-free virtual meetings, but we can avoid a lot of issues by simply preparing.
1. Test your tech in advance ?
Test, test, test. Okay, so you’ve been at this virtual meeting thing for quite some time, but that doesn’t change the need for preparation. Each and every new virtual meeting you run or join is susceptible to technical glitches and human error.
When a technical issue needs fixing or a meeting starts late due to a lack of preparation, the whole team’s time gets wasted.
Doing a quick test before a meeting begins only takes a few minutes. Check your internet connection, webcam, headset, video quality, sound quality, etc., so you can deal with any technical issues before the meeting begins.
Pro tip: If you’re using Zoom, the platform has a meeting tool called a Zoom Test Meeting that allows you to enter a test meeting room to fully test the functionality of your device before joining a real meeting.
2. Invest in a good microphone ?
Your phone and computer have microphones, but they’re not the best at picking up crisp, clear audio. Your built-in mic also may not reduce the amount of background noise that’s picked up (which can annoy your teammates).
If you regularly participate in video conference calls or virtual events, it’s about time you invested in a quality microphone. You may not notice the difference, but the people on the other end will thank you!
3. Early is on time, on time is late ⏰
“On time is late” is a good mantra no matter where you’re headed, but this is especially true of virtual meetings. As we mentioned above, you need to leave time to test your tech and resolve any issues before jumping on a call.
However, a good test call isn’t a perfect substitute for joining a call early. Your video application may need an update, your computer could decide it needs to restart, your headphones could be tangled, or several other things could go wrong. If you only discover these problems when the call officially starts, fixing them will take time away from the meeting.
Say it with us: “Early is on time, on time is early.”
4. Begin with an icebreaker ❄️
When you begin a virtual meeting, don’t jump straight into business. Before in-person meetings, your teammates can get comfortable and make small talk while walking to the meeting room or waiting for things to get started.
However, virtual teams miss out on a lot of the team building that naturally occurs in a physical office space. The meeting host or moderator should run a short, interactive icebreaker that engages everyone before diving into work.
Try asking team members if they’d rather the world had only pancakes vs. waffles, doing a home office show and tell, or two truths and a lie. The ice breaker you choose isn’t important so long as you all have fun with it. Give your team a chance to open up and let loose before the real work begins. Build this time into your meeting agenda so that everyone knows what’s expected and no time is taken away from other important matters.
You can get the team involved in choosing icebreakers, and don’t be afraid to pass on the facilitator duties to someone else if they’d like to run an icebreaker.
5. Be mindful of your background ?
Let’s be real — your home office isn’t a conference room, and visually speaking, sometimes the room where you need to take a meeting is less than ideal. Always double-check your surroundings before jumping on a video call in case you need to make some last-minute adjustments.
What does the wall behind you look like? Is there anything in view you wouldn’t want someone else to see? Can you adjust the camera angle to improve the view?
If your background isn’t what you’d like it to be, consider changing it to a blurred or custom virtual environment.
6. Watch your body language
Body language matters! Even on a video screen, your team members will notice your body language, especially if it’s uninviting.
Before starting the meeting, check your posture and make sure you are sitting up straight and looking professional. During the meeting, be careful of your reactions, and don’t relax into a casual slouch or direct your gaze off-screen.
Even if you’re not directly involved in what’s going on in the meeting, you still need to look attentive and give whoever’s speaking your respect. Simple body language, like looking at a watch or clearly reading something else on your computer screen, shows the other meeting attendees that you are uninterested, bored, or have somewhere you'd rather be.
Poor body language to watch out for:
- Looking away from the screen
- Poor posture or slouching
- Fiddling with an item or your hands
- Eye rolling
- Looking at your phone
- Looking at a watch or clock
- Reading something on your computer when someone is speaking
7. Manage notifications and WFH interruptions?
Mobile devices should always be on silent during any virtual meeting. Better yet — if you don’t need your phone for any aspect of the meeting, move it to the other side of the room or another room entirely.
When you’re participating in a video call, it’s courteous meeting etiquette to turn off all notifications that could distract you. This includes phone calls, messaging, social media, emails, computer pop-ups, etc.
Be mindful of interruptions, especially if you are working from home. Make sure your kids, family, roommates, and anyone else you might live with understand when you can’t be interrupted. If you can, take calls from a room with a door that shuts to minimize disruptions during meetings.
Respect the meeting, respect the person running it, and respect your teammates by carefully managing potential interruptions.
8. Be courteous of time zones ?
Lastly, we want to address time zones. Remote teams are often spread across multiple time zones, sometimes all across the globe. This can present a number of challenges for meeting coordination.
Utilize tools to understand how all of the different time zones on your team relate, and be courteous of other people’s time. 9:00 am for you might be 6:00 am for one of your teammates and 10:00 pm for another.
If you know someone needs to get up at 7:00 am to make a weekly call, consider changing the time of the meeting every once in a while. If not everyone can meet in real-time due to time zone differences, make sure you switch up the meeting time so that everyone is able to participate some of the time. Remember to share a video recording of the meeting with anyone who couldn’t attend!
Simplify virtual meeting minutes
Virtual meetings aren’t going away any time soon. Love them or tolerate them, we need to work at better preparing ourselves and being courteous of our teammates' time. The next time you have a virtual meeting to attend, take time before the meeting to review how you present yourself and how you may be coming across to others. The extra effort and preparation will put your mind at ease, and your teammates will thank you!
You have enough to worry about before and during your virtual meeting — leave the notetaking to powerful AI software. With Anchor AI, you can seamlessly record full transcripts, separating action items, keywords, speakers, and important decisions. Follow our blog for the latest updates and sign up for Anchor AI today!