Etiquette Tips for Participating in Live Online Video Meetings

Whether you’re meeting via live online video for school or work, having clear communication protocols is key to being productive. Here are seven etiquette tips you and your online group might consider adopting, particularly if you're just beginning to transition away from face-to-face (F2F) meetings.

Set up your space.

Find a room where you can close the door so your roommates/family won’t interrupt your live meeting. Put your web camera device (phone, laptop, tablet, etc.) on a steady surface such as a table rather than in your lap or your hand. Sit or stand in a manner that allows you to look straight at the camera (don’t lay down and tilt your camera up to the ceiling). Use earbuds/headphones with a built-in mic for better incoming/outgoing audio. Declutter your backdrop as much as possible so your colleagues aren’t distracted. Finally, turn your camera on and test it out. Do you and your space look ready for a live video meeting?

Log in early.

Online meetings mean we don’t have to deal with traffic delays and other commute issues - but we now need to allow time for potential tech challenges. Log on 15 minutes prior to the official meeting start time to ensure you are connected and your video and audio are working properly. Simply put, professionalism requires you to be prepared and punctual whether you’re meeting F2F or online.

If possible, keep your video camera on.

The more you can make your online meeting look and feel like a F2F meeting, the easier it is to be productive. Focus on making eye contact and mind your facial expressions and non-verbals just as you would if you were meeting in-person. If possible, don’t turn your camera off during the meeting--this signals to others that you have something more important to do than focusing on this meeting. If you need to turn your camera off because of connectivity issues, communicate that to your colleagues so they know you’re still there. This is also where your Zoom profile picture and username are important - make sure folks can see your face in your profile picture, and that it’s in a setting your professors and professional colleagues would deem appropriate. 

Share your thoughts verbally, but mute yourself when you’re not talking.

To be clear, neither the audio or video mute buttons are a free pass for passive participation. The audio mute option is there to help us manage odd sounds produced by various technologies. Just as you would speak up in a F2F meeting, unmute and do so in your online meeting, or follow whatever protocol the moderator provided.

Be wary of unproductive text chats and emoji usage.

The text chat function in online meetings is akin to side conversations in F2F meetings. Most often, this is seen as disrespectful and unproductive, so don’t let text chats be the same. For online meeting newbies, the text chat function may be overwhelming while you are first learning to navigate live video meetings, so consider banning it for your first few meets. Perhaps you all agree to only use it when it is directly related to the live video conversation (e.g., Let’s look at this document --share link in text chat). Once you’ve acclimated to live online meetings, think about how your group could use the text chat productively and establish a team protocol for it.

Don’t multitask.

It takes more self-discipline to remain attentive and engaged in an online meeting because we just aren’t conditioned for it...yet! Don’t do online meetings while driving or other activities. Focus on what’s being said/shown and intentionally lean into the conversation mentally and physically. Just as you wouldn’t multitask or randomly step out of a F2F meeting, don’t in your online meeting either.

Ask for clarification when you need it.

If audio or video breaks up and you miss something, let the meeting leader/teacher know. Your meeting can only be productive if everyone communicates effectively both ways.


Looking for more? Check out the video below for some additional tips and tricks to help you succeed in a digital environment.