It’s time to say goodbye to the digital Wild West of video conferencing and embrace these rules of good etiquette.
As the last two years have shown, video conferencing has become a staple of remote work and has opened up our lives in unexpected ways, from allowing many to relocate to the cities of their dreams and find more time to spend with loved ones, to picking up a new hobby and even benefiting the environment. It’s safe to say that video conferencing is here to stay as we embrace the flexibility of a hybrid work style. But with it, come a few basic do’s and don’ts, whether you’re Evercasting or otherwise.
Is it a video call, or is it an email?
We’ve all reveled in the thousands of “survived another meeting that could’ve been an email” memes, and the same mentality should apply to virtual meetings. Make sure the issue being discussed merits a virtual face-to-face instead of an email, text, or Slack exchange. In the words of one of our very own from the Evercast team: "Be mindful and have meetings to collaborate, share, and create together. Save quick updates for chat messages or emails, and get the full value of a face-to-face Evercast session by using it for collaboration, planning, brainstorming, creative work, and the like. This helps to avoid burnout, maximize productivity, and respect everyone’s time and energy."
Test the tech
It’s easy and doesn’t take long. Most video conferencing apps offer the option to test your speaker and mic before jumping into the deep end of the pool. Take them up on that. And if they don’t, use this gratis option. If you’ve been having issues with internet speeds as of late, use a free website like speedtest.net (we always recommend an Ethernet connection!), and if you confirm that you have an ongoing issue, act accordingly.
Don’t be late
Did you go to class with that kid who lived right around the corner from school but always managed to be five minutes late? Don’t be that kid. We know life happens, meetings run late, the dog needs a walk, and so on. Just because you are physically closer to the location of the meeting, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare the same way you would if you had to commute. A good way to deal with this is, when possible, to clear your schedule 10 minutes ahead of your next session or meeting. Time management is something that everybody can get better at with practice—even the busiest among us.
The chat window is your friend
One of the most common traps we tend to fall into is speaking all at once and over each other, leading to a cacophony that wastes time and tests everybody’s patience. However, there’s a very simple tool that’s often neglected: the chat window. If somebody has the proverbial mic, using the chat function is a good way to ask questions and pose counter-arguments without immediately interrupting the speaker. It even gives them an opportunity to address concerns while maintaining the flow of forward-momentum. On the flip side, avoid using the chat feature to joke around and distract others from the current speaker. That’s just rude.
Be a good sport and mute yourself
We get it. When we’re at home, it’s easy to get distracted. Or to fidget. Or to want to snack on something for energy and focus. That’s completely acceptable, but make sure you’re always muted unless you’re speaking. Otherwise, you’re probably bothering your colleagues, even if you don’t realize it. Staring at a screen for hours at a time is difficult enough as is, and we certainly don’t need further reasons to distract ourselves.
Create together remotely, in real time
Seriously, don’t multitask. You’re not being as stealthy as you think. We can tell. We can always tell. And it makes us feel like what we’re saying isn’t being valued or respected. That smirk on your face as you answer a funny text? Someone will always think it’s about them. If you get a call that you absolutely need to answer, let people know in the chat window and excuse yourself for a few minutes (but please don’t interrupt and ask, “What did I miss?” when you return). Oh, and we know when you open new browser windows or apps on your computer because the light around you changes, even during the day (but especially in dark environments).
Always, always wear pants. We’ve all seen the TV shows, the movies, and the live reporting in which someone is dressed to the nines from the waist up, and then they get up and have nothing but socks and underwear. Trust us, sooner or later, you’ll get caught. It’s inevitable. You’ll get comfortable and, in time, you’ll forget you’re not wearing pants. Then someone rings the doorbell, or you get up to turn off the fan, and that’s all it takes. Sure, maybe it’s funny for a short minute, but again, you’re interrupting the focus and the flow. Which leads us to the next point…
Don’t steal the limelight
As a completely virtual company, something that comes up a lot for us here at Evercast is to let the organizer get through their agenda. Every group has at least one person who takes the meeting on a tangent, preventing its progress and wasting people’s time. Make sure that your participation will move productivity forward, not backwards or sideways. A good way to do this is to stay on the host/speaker’s point and to respect the agenda, if one was set.
Let people exit the meeting
Meetings and creative sessions can often be all-encompassing and cover a lot of ground. This means that, sometimes, the first third might be relevant to your colleague, but not the final two thirds. Create an environment in which people feel comfortable excusing themselves when they’re no longer needed. Or, remember, whenever relevant, to give people the chance to leave if they want or need to. This will increase productivity and reduce the frustration and anxiety of having to be a part of a long chat that keeps us from—or doesn’t further—our work.
Virtual sessions are a whole lot like in-person sessions. Most of these do’s and don’ts are connected to the fundamentally basic idea of being a good human. When you think about the other person’s well-being and respect their time and work, most of these key points will be non-issues to begin with.