Rules of etiquette sound somewhat antiquated and a little like dance school. In fact, rules – like road traffic regulations – ensure smooth interaction and more relaxed and effective communication.
As with on-site appointments, all participants in remote sessions should arrive on time. If you have to be late, you should post a short message in the meeting chat. If you arrive at the meeting a few minutes early, you can have a short private chat by all means – an aspect that should not be underestimated in times without personal contact!
He who comes too late…
We may not really punish him, but he should first mute himself so as not to disturb the meeting. Usually you can see the participants anyway, so that a loud “Hello – I’m here now!”, is not necessary.
Background noise is much more disturbing in video conferences than in on-site meetings – and you produce more of it than you think! Otherwise unnoticed puffing easily becomes a “noise overload”. Therefore, all participants should make sure that they are muted by default and only unmute when they want to say something. Our recommendation: Show the list of participants and check if you are muted. For quick switching there is usually a key combination (in Microsoft teams this is Ctrl + Shift + M).
Entering the conversation
As in an on-site meeting, the same applies to video conferences: Let’s hear the excuses! If you want to step in, this should be done with an introductory sentence, such as “May I just jump in here?”, so that any delays in the transmission are offset. If several participants speak at the same time, it is easy to agree on who is next.
It is recommended that a company-wide rule for the use of webcams be established. In our experience, the difference between a simple sound-track and visible facial expressions and gestures is enormous. It is therefore helpful to have the camera switched on. But of course there are many reasons to leave the camera off. These can range from a lack of bandwidth to personal reasons. No one should have to justify themselves. So our suggestion is that those who leave the camera off say so briefly at the beginning of the meeting without giving any reasons. Microsoft Teams offers the “Blur Background” feature, which can also be used to conceal movements behind the participant.
As in on-site appointments, it is annoying for people to work on e-mail on the side. Checking Facebook or eating on the side is also annoying. If something cannot be postponed, please switch off the camera for a moment.
Video conferences can sometimes malfunction. Because these now often take place in the home office, the range of possible surprises has expanded considerably and now includes crying children, barking dogs or ringing parcel messengers. Avoidable disturbing factors such as ringing mobile phones should be avoided by switching them off! Everything else can be mastered with a good helping of humor and composure.
General rules of courtesy, muting if you’re not speaking, and a culture of using the camera create a good framework for effective and relaxed video conferences!
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