There is just no substitute for good manners in all our daily interactions, and they are certainly appreciated more than ever in Support Group meetings. There are some age-old guidelines that comprise good meeting etiquette—being on time, maintaining eye contact, paying attention—and applying those same principles to our video meetings can go a long way toward a productive meeting environment. It can also help elevate your experience into a “great meeting.”

Traditional meetings can too often be considered unproductive because there are so many delays and interruptions. Reliable, easy-to-use video conferencing platforms like Zoom have helped to restore meetings’ reputations, but there are still ways to ensure all of those attending get the most out of the allotted time.

Some of the most common-sense meeting decorum—avoiding eating and drinking, minding your body language, and being respectful to whoever is speaking—are no-brainers. Another is being on time. So here are some additional etiquette tips to help ensure a focused and effective Zoom Meeting. 

1. Make sure to listen to the objectives of the meeting.

The PRO meetings typically start with a preamble stating the objectives of the meeting. Like a real meeting or social event, we want the participants to know what they can expect. The same practice applies to a virtual meeting. In some instances, we will introduce the attendees, at least by first name to create a welcoming environment and stimulate engagement. We also inform the audience of the confidentiality that exists. The Golden Rule is especially important here. To promote timeliness, it has been suggested that we institute “Closed Meeting” times—meaning coming late might prevent someone from attending the meeting—people joining late are very disruptive to everyone, plus they miss hearing the meeting objectives; on the other hand, anyone can join the meeting in advance of its time and wait for us, the host, to arrive.

2. Ensure that you have a clean, appropriate background.

You want the other guests focus to be on the meeting content, not how messy you or your surroundings are or how amazing your art collection is. By having a clean, neat and tidy setting you reduce the chance that others will get distracted. You should also try to attend the meeting from a quiet area that has minimal background noise and movement. Zoom’s virtual background feature is an easy way to eliminate background distractions when you have to meet in a messy or busy location. Also note that lighting should be in front of you, illuminating you, not behind you.

3. Look into the camera when talking instead of looking at yourself.

If you are looking at yourself on the screen while you are talking, it will seem like your attention is elsewhere. Direct eye contact into the camera while speaking gives attendees the impression that you are looking at them rather than off to the side, which creates an environment where everyone feels engaged and present in the conversation. Be sure to position your web camera and monitor at eye level so you can look into the camera and simulate that eye-to-eye connection with other attendees. 

4. Eliminate distractions and focus on the tenor of the meeting.

Notifications from messaging applications, ringtones, and applications running on your desktop or phone can be distracting, which can make the host and other guests feel disrespected and undervalued. Mitigating these distractions helps keep the meeting focused and free from interruption. In other words, turn off all devices not being used for this meeting. If you are using your phone for the meeting, turn off its ringer or any alarms.

5. Be aware of your audio and video settings.

Check whether your microphone is muted or unmuted and that your camera is on to ensure that all guests can hear you and see you when you speak. If we notice that you are speaking but your microphone is muted, we may alert you or our host will mute or unmute you. 

6. Only meeting participants who need to be there are invited.

People who do not need to participate or are wrong for the meeting group can be detrimental to the quality of the meeting. “Caregiver Only” meetings are just for Caregivers unless a guest is invited for the benefit of the caregivers. We can and will limit the guest list to keep a meeting streamlined. As an invitee, make sure to review any meeting invites you receive to determine whether your attendance is appropriate. 

7. If you are in need of information after the meeting or you want something discussed during the meeting and may not want to ask out loud – make your request through the “Chat Room” 

Please be familiar with the “Chat” button on the Zoom screen on your device. The Chat button should also be used if you wish to get a question or comment to the host rather than expressing it to all guests. 

Practice good video meeting etiquette

Practicing good video meeting etiquette is critical to ensuring that our meetings are comfortable, professional, efficient, and valuable.

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Updated: August 16, 2017