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This is how you should prepare for an online meeting

Online Meeting Etiquettes: 10 Essentials to Follow

Online meeting etiquettes you need to know

Online meeting etiquettes are now pretty basic!

Do you have a meeting soon? Chances are high that it’ll be held online. Since the global pandemic, we are collectively headed into times where online conferences have become the ‘new normal’. Some might be tempted to wake up 10 minutes prior to the meeting, some might be confident, and some might be at a complete loss regarding how to crack it.

online meeting set up
Virtual Conference: The New Normal (Source: Unsplash)

No matter which group you belong to, here’s a lifesaving check-list of 10 online meeting etiquettes to make your life easier.

“Confidence comes from knowing what you’re doing. If you are prepared for something, you usually do it. If not, you usually fall flat on your face.”

Tom Landry

Online Meeting Etiquette Is a Thing

Online meeting etiquette encompasses both your preparation and body language. It focuses on connecting to teammates meaningfully. Even though it might seem like an extravagance, participating in online meetings calls for some serious finesse. Because let’s face it: although remote work came into existence in 1973, it is a brand new practice for people in general.

Imagine yourself in the middle of an important online discussion, trying to make a point. And your pet demands attention at that very moment. Either a family member just walks in, or your phone starts ringing loudly. Perhaps your very stable internet connection decides to go unstable. It’s very natural for you to panic and lose calm.

Murphy's Law works all the time.
Image: Murphy’s Law: Never Fails to Work!

You can never be one hundred percent certain when it involves technology. So many things can go wrong and altogether distract a whole bunch of people from their agenda.

However, these potential mishaps can be optimized by knowing some simple yet effective online meeting etiquettes. You can reflect your professionalism and prevent the attendees from suffering from Zoom Fatigue. (Read more about Zoom Fatigue: The reason Zoom calls drain your energy

5 Before to do Online Meeting Etiquettes:

Preparations before the meeting are as important as your performance during the meeting. It helps you keep cool as a cucumber all the way, even if anything goes south.

01. Know Your Online Meeting Tools

Be clear about your time and agenda. If it’s up to you, make sure the right online meeting software is picked in order to ensure productivity. It should be easy to use without any confusion. Here is a list of 10 Best Virtual Meeting Platforms & Software (Tried & Tested) to choose from.

After accidentally activating a ‘cat filter’ on-screen during a serious Zoom hearing, This poor Texas attorney went viral. Lawyer Who Couldn’t Turn Off Cat Filter In Zoom: ‘I Don’t Know How It Got On’ | TODAY

Needless to say, no matter what software you are using, doing a test run is mandatory. You can ask a friend for help if necessary. Make sure you know how it works so that you don’t have to fumble during the meeting. 

02. Prevent Distractions

Online meeting attendee turning off his notifications
Image: Turn Off Your Notifications (Source: Unsplash)

The most basic online meeting etiquette is to close all the unnecessary tabs. Turn off the pings and notifications from slack, messenger, or other chat applications. Put your cell phone on ‘DND’. If it is crucial to keep anything open, turn off the notifications at the least. It’s impolite and disturbing for others if your incoming email bell is chiming every other minute. Inform people in the house about your conference, making it clear for them to stay quiet and create an office-like ambience. Make a habit to lock the door to ensure minimum commotion.

03. Dress to Impress

A first impression is generally created within the first 30 seconds of a person coming into sight. And it is very much entangled with what that person is wearing. What you wear has a major contribution at putting you in the ‘work mode’ when the camera rolls. 

Also, there is a fine line between casual and unprofessional. The outfit you choose should boost your confidence without causing diversion.

Most basic Do’s & Don’ts while choosing your ensemble during an online interview/meeting:

Do Don’t
ColorWear neutral or pastel tones
Wear cool-toned shades of blue
Wear flashy colors
Wear colors which blend in with the background
PatternWear light patternsGo for busy patterns, such as dense stripes, animal prints, or plaid
AccessoriesChoose simple accessories like watch, tie (for males), ear tops & bracelets (for females) will sufficeChoose overly sparkly & noisy jewelry
Table: Basic Outfit Guidlines for An Online Meeting

04. A Good Setup Reflects Good Etiquette

  • Background: If there’s a pile of clothes, a dazzling poster, or an untidy bed behind you- drawing attention to yourself would be pretty impossible. Putting the effort into having a presentable background is good etiquette.  Treat your overall setup like an accessory during an online conference or a virtual interview. 
  • Lights: Arrange your work setup facing a window or plenty of light. If you’re someone who wears glasses, alter the lights in the room to reduce glare from the lenses.

Your seating position should make you decently visible. Keep a pen and a paper at close, for taking notes. Furthermore, it is recommended to leave the keyboard alone because it can be distracting. Keep water nearby, this is somewhat a necessity.

05. Arrive Early & Have Backup: 

Arriving Early for your Online Meeting is a Good Manner
Arranging Online Meeting Setup (Source: Unsplash)

Sit before your screen a few minutes ahead of time so that you can set yourself. Despite all the test runs and preparations, the call may drop, the video may buffer. Nevertheless, be calm no matter what. Most of the time a quick reboot is the solution. Sometimes you’ll need to login from another device.

It is recommended to have multiple backups so that you don’t panic if you hit a technical snag! Whatever you do, the best practice is to let the other party know. Keep phone numbers to contact in case of emergency.

5 During to do Online Meeting Etiquettes:

If you have done your preparations right, now you can focus on the topic of the meeting. 

01. Mute by default: Yes or No?

Confusion often arises about whether you should or should not mute yourself. Our suggestion is that, befriend the mute button. Muscle memory is a strong game. Different situations call for different actions and being able to identify them is a powerful online meeting etiquette.

Image: Mute/Unmute As Needed (Source: Unsplash)

Your settings should have you muted by default while you’re joining an online meeting. This is to save the group from weird audio feed, side remarks made accidentally, noise of ongoing constructions etc. If it is a large call of ten or more people or feedback echo from your end-you can remain muted. 

However, staying on mute when the speaker is expecting a response is impolite. Be prompt when it comes to responding and letting others know that you’re following the meeting. 

The ideal conference call takes place in a quiet area. But if you’re somewhere with background noise, it’s essential that you inform other people in the meeting that you’re there but unable to unmute.

02. Starting With Video On is a Good Etiquette

A man actively interacting actively in an online meeting with his video feed on.
Image: Strat with Video On (Source: Unsplashed)

Video is a way to add some life to virtual communication. Starting without video might seem impersonal, or even cold during one on one conversations. Having issues with background and looks is not a good online meeting etiquette to turn your video feed off. However, in case of absolute necessity; like when bandwidth is a problem, you can turn it off after the initial greetings. But, do let others know you’re there.

Rule of thumb regarding the video is, if they have their video on, you should be on video as well. It can obviously vary with the circumstances. If possible, be on the same page about what is expected while scheduling the meeting.

03. Be Present and Mindful

Seems pretty obvious but it’s a vital online meeting etiquette. Multitasking is distracting. Switching to other applications and not paying attention only stretches the duration unnecessarily. 

Image: Participate Actively (Source: Unsplash)

The best practice is to make sure you can be seen. Be inclusive and ask relevant questions to keep the conversation rolling. Be mindful not to interrupt. Don’t make the speaker repeat because you zoned out. Chats regarding the meeting can be refreshing but it must not be overdone.

A special piece of advice for cases where you need to make or break the conversation like a job interview. Make ‘lens contact’ to the person you’re talking to. Our instinct is to talk while looking people in the eye. So, you should look straight at the camera lens instead of his eyes on your screen. You don’t need to check yourself too much. If you’ve followed our suggestions so far, you’re good to go.

04. Protect Sensitive Information

It is a much necessary online meeting etiquette for all the parties present in the meeting. One moment of inattention can result in irrecoverable loss of data.

Image: Information Safety Matters (Source: Unsplash)

Make absolutely sure that only the contents which are intended are presented while sharing the screen. Launching a fresh browser beforehand is a smart thing to do. Try not to search in the address bar  to avoid potentially awkward auto-complete outcomes. This is also crucial to protect sensitive and confidential information. To have extra control over what is shown, go for a certain tab or one app (i.e only the presentation) in lieu of the entire screen.

Be mindful of the attendees. Activate waiting room, enable password protection to ensure privacy. Notice whether the meeting is being recorded or not. (Read more: 5 Ways to Secure Data on Video Conferencing Platforms in a Remote Work Environment)

05. Wrap Up with Grace

By the end of the meeting, in order for everyone to have a clear concept about the entire discussion, a smooth wrap-up is a good practice. It’s true that nothing beats an in-person interaction. Repeating the key points gives the attendees a sense of accomplishment. Additionally, it refreshes the respective tasks. Remind the deadlines, assign someone to send in the meeting minutes, and decide when to follow-up if needed.

Image: Be kind to yourself and to others (Source: Pexels)


Online meetings are equally exhausting as the face-to-face ones, if not more. As much as we need to work for a seamlessly productive meeting, we must accept the inevitable. Some things are just beyond our control. Online meeting etiquettes are of high significance-that goes without saying. Nonetheless, it’s important to be kind as well; to yourself and to other attendees. If you feel something is off, remain open to the possibility that signals were missed. Human communication depends a lot on non-verbal cues. Virtual calls often fails to give out the full context. Hence, misinterpretations can take place. Being patient and graceful can go a long way in terms of both productivity and socialization.

Image: Be Confident Regardless Everything (Source: Pexels)

Remember: These Online meeting etiquettes are mere tools to help you achieve your goals. Don’t feel stressed about it. Be comfortable in your own skin. Nothing is more attractive than the confidence you wear!

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S. Ariba Salam
When life gives me lemons, I make lemon cakes.