Be a consummate professional during online meetings
Before the meeting
- Tell everyone else in your home/office area that you'll be in an online meeting. If you don't have a dedicated room for a meeting, then let everyone in your household know in advance that you'll be in a meeting so that you can have quiet in the background. This is proper etiquette for your household and for your meeting participants.
- Appearance. Be well groomed, as if you were meeting in person. This includes being fully dressed in case you need to stand up in front of the camera for an unexpected reason.
- Background. You want people focusing on your face, not on what's behind you. Make sure your background (real or virtual) is simple yet professional so there are no distractions. In general, pets and children should not be in the video view the attendees see, but exceptions may be made with an appropriate audience. If you do not have a dedicated workspace and may have family members wandering around in the background, consider using a virtual background.
- Lighting. Avoid sitting with your back to the window, as the camera will expose for the light and turn you into a silhouette. Instead, flip it, and face the window, which will give you soft, people-pleasing light. If you can't reposition, close the window's curtain or shades and have a light near your face to illuminate it.
- Camera level. Do your best to raise your camera up to eye level during meetings so that attendees are not looking up to you as you talk. This may require stacking your laptop on some books or boxes for a meeting.
During the meeting
- Be there five minutes early if you're the host. Give yourself time to log in and account for any technical difficulties if you're the meeting host.
- Be fully present. Close other browser windows and use the screen that the meeting is on. Don't look down at your phone or your watch during the meeting. Treat it as you would an in-person meeting.
- Keep your video on. It's polite to allow everyone to see you on screen. Speakers may be looking at your face for visual cues that you agree, understand or can view the screen. If you need to step away, sneeze or blow your nose, please stop your video.
- Stay on mute if you're not talking. Background noise in your home or neighborhood can be really distracting. If you aren't sharing anything at the moment, stay muted until you need to speak. This includes when using headphones as meeting attendees can still hear background noise that you may not.
- Don't eat. For the most part, you wouldn't eat during an in-person meeting, so refrain from doing so online. If you must eat, go on mute and turn off your video.