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Online meeting etiquette

Here are some do’s and don’ts to follow for WebEx meetings.

Remote working has become the norm for many people as the coronavirus has scattered offices across the nation. Some businesses are operating on a hybrid work model, with teams rotating between days at the office and work from home days. This enables businesses to keep to the strict distancing required by law as we battle to get this pandemic under control. This new normal has brought its own challenges not the least of which is navigating virtual meetings. For most of us staring and talking at computer screens represents the new way of doing business. However, it is important to put some basic principles of etiquette in place if we are to keep professional standards in place.

We have all seen those clips shared on social media platforms of how to quickly slip into a more professional looking outfit just before a meeting which can be removed just as quickly as it was put on. In previous newsletters, we have spoken extensively about the importance of keeping a routine and keeping your morale up while working from home. While there is little many people can do about the neighbour’s barking dogs, and Hadedas bellowing their heads off in the garden, basics can be put in place that ensures that nothing less than a highly professional image is projected online meetings.

The first thing to do is to ensure that you are dressed appropriately, with neat hair and that goes for you guys also. While clothes may not make the man – professional attire delivers messages of focus, competence, and respect. All of this will give a better impression than that favourite old braai t-shirt. Ladies use that lipstick! The immortal Coco Chanel noted: “dress shabbily and they remember the clothes, dress impeccably and they remember the woman”. The same applies to online meetings. Do a mirror check the same as you would if you were going out for a face-to-face meeting. Isolation can lead to bad habits like staying in pyjamas all day and working from bed – allowing that type of behaviour to creep in will eventually wear you down emotionally so make sure this does not become a habit.

Here are some do’s and don’ts to follow for WebEx meetings.

Do’s:

  • Log on ahead of time to ensure everything technical is working – your sound, camera etc. Have an agenda ready. If you were invited and are unsure what the meeting is about, reach out to the person who invited you before the meeting and gets background so you can prepare.
  • Put your camera on and make sure you have uploaded the appropriate backdrop screen, designed in your company identity. You are welcome to reach out to us for assistance with this.
  • Ensure you are presentable when your camera is turned on.
  • Make sure you are on mute when you first log on and mute yourself when you are not
    talking.
  • Always RSVP to meetings and decline if you are not able to attend. This is just good manners.
  • If you set up the meeting don’t forget to send minutes after the meeting has been concluded.
  • Make sure your webcam cover has been moved to the open position.
  • Greet everyone and engage in some small talk before kicking off with your meeting. Don’t forget to build relationships – people still do business with people.

Don’t:

  • Don’t wait until the meeting starts to log on to the call.
  • Don’t multi-task while on a call especially if your camera is on. We know it can be tempting to look at emails and catch up.
  • Don’t eat and drink while you on a call. Schedule breaks to do so.
  • Don’t invite unnecessary people.
  • Don’t interrupt others while they are speaking and or presenting. You can always put comments into the chat window.
  • Don’t ask people to attend a meeting at the 11th hour! Always allow sufficient time to coordinate diaries and reschedule meetings. If something is urgent then a phone call is probably more appropriate than a WebEx meeting.
  • Don’t commit to something during a meeting and then not action it. Make sure you take quick notes, so you have reminders of what is expected of you after the meeting.
  • Don’t go into a meeting unprepared, it is not only unprofessional but will add to your stress levels.

We know that some of these do’s and don’ts may seem very basic but as Steven R Covey says:
“Common sense is not always common practice”.

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