Essential Guide to Video Call Etiquette

Virtual meetings are suddenly a routine part of everyone’s day. With most of us working from home for the foreseeable future, the consultants at MDL Partners have some video call do’s and don’ts for you to keep in mind as you navigate the new normal and work to maintain a strong professional interface.

Appearance – It is important to present a professional image, even at home, as the meeting itself is a professional engagement.

  • Business casual is a good guideline to project your brand.
  • Just as in a physical meeting, people are looking to you for non-verbal feedback such as nodding your head, or a smile, or no I am not in agreement with that. It is an essential part of human communication and connection.
  • If you are using Zoom, there are some great backgrounds you can download for free. Elite Daily shared 8 options in this article. We suggest #’s 1, 2, 4 or 5.  All 4 are office spaces with no extra people in them.

 The Mute Button and Extraneous NoiseThe mute button is essential!

  • Use mute when you aren’t speaking and un-mute when you want to contribute a comment.
  • When using the microphone, remember to keep a reasonable distance. You might want to do a practice run with a friend on the other end. The microphone can pick up your breathing and sniffling and be quite disruptive.
  • It’s also good to take note of other noises coming from your house so that you can determine if the spot you’ve chosen is sufficiently secluded for calls.

Typing – Use the mute button when typing

  • Typing is super loud, especially on a laptop where the microphone is extremely close to the keyboard.

Movement – Movement during a video call should be minimized, essentially the same as if you were meeting in person around a conference table.

  • If you need to take a break for yourself, or to deal with something in your area (family member, pet), excuse yourself just like an in person.

Lighting and Location – You need to prepare for your video calls in advance.

  • If your camera is too far below you (common with laptop cameras), it causes an unfortunate (and very unflattering) “up your nose” angle, try putting your laptop up on a box to get to eye level height.
  • Spend some time working with the camera on your computer, moving among locations in your home until you find one with good lighting and a good angle.
  • In addition to good light and a reasonable work surface, your video call location should be quiet. If you are working from home with pets and children, try to find a place that you can close off during calls.

Eating – While on a video call, it is best to refrain from eating….

  • Drinking water or coffee is fine but try to plan your day so that you don’t need to eat during a video call.
  • Keep in mind that you are actually quite large, up close and personal on the screens of others and taking a big bite out of a cheeseburger during a meeting will be extremely distracting!

Key Reminders Summary:

  • Dress as though the meeting was in person (informal business casual)
  • Use the Mute function actively during the session
  • Keep the camera at eye level
  • Actively interact and engage with others as though they were sitting right across a conference table from you

For the most part, video call etiquette is similar to in person meeting etiquette. The challenge is maintaining that more professional demeanor when at home in a relaxed environment. Many people worked from home before 2020 and it is likely that many more will work from home after. Creating good habits around video calls will make the transition more successful.