Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips for Success

First impressions matter; be camera-ready, and set the stage for a professional video experience.

How Has Video Conferencing Evolved?

Video conferencing has become a primary mode of communication for many organizations since 2020, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The shutdown of many businesses redefined our workday, requiring many workers to adopt a work-from-home arrangement. Video gatherings have highlighted the need to consider the optics of our surroundings for meetings in other locations, particularly in our homes.

Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Make a Lasting First Impression

Video calls are convenient, efficient, cost-effective, high-value tools for connecting geographically distant team members and customers. Give your full attention; and be polite, professional, and efficient. Begin and end communications on a positive note. 

Whether you are hosting or attending, remember that some things acceptable in face-to-face meetings do not work on camera. The following tips will ensure you present professionally and make an excellent first and lasting impression.

Show Up on Time to the Video Call

Arriving on time means arriving early. Video meetings deserve the same respect and etiquette as in-person meetings. Preparing your surroundings, equipment, and attire the day before facilitates an early login, calm demeanor, and smooth operation. Professionalism means being prompt and showing courtesy and respect.

Appearance and Attire

Just as in person, first impressions are essential on video. Your appearance makes an immediate impression and sets a professional tone. Prepare your appearance and attire as you would for an in-person meeting. “Formal,” professional,” and “casual” are three terms commonly used for business attire, and the formality of the meeting dictates the level of dress. 

What looks good in person may not be flattering on camera. The right colors, patterns, and fit will add to your professional look for your video appearance. Wear colors in solid or small, subtle patterns that flatter your skin tone and hair. Consider royal blue, burgundy, green, purple, and charcoal gray. Clothing colors close to your skin tone will wash you out and cause you to disappear. Remember that your background colors will also influence the nature of your attire. 

Evaluate your clothing on screen before the meeting. Well-fitted clothing translates best on camera whereas bulky or loose-fitting attire will not look sharp and polished. Haircuts, hairstyles, and makeup require extra attention because the focus is on your upper body. 

Position the Camera Correctly

Newer laptops and desktops usually have good cameras, but a webcam and stand can offer better quality and more flexibility to help you look professional.

Position the camera to frame your image; center your face and upper chest on the screen. Place your computer or phone on an elevated surface. At or slightly above eye level is the most favorable position.

Mute When Not Speaking

If you meet with four or fewer persons, leaving your mic unmuted to provide verbal feedback may work if there is no background noise. In a larger meeting, be adept at handling the mute feature to avoid lag times when commenting or asking and answering questions.

Improve the Lighting around You

Hold your meeting in a well-lit room. If you have a window, sit facing the natural light to brighten your face. If the natural light is too bright, use sheer curtains or partially open blinds. Alternatively, place a lamp with a white lightbulb behind your computer screen to achieve a similar effect. 

Avoid harsh lighting coming from a single direction, especially above, that will cast unflattering shadows and lighting behind you, leaving your face dark and silhouetted. Do your best to consistently use warm or cool-toned light.

Learn to Screen Share

Screen sharing is an effective tool with many benefits. It allows teams to share data, deepen understanding, and collaborate in real time. 

Understand how to use this tool efficiently during meetings and prepare to share by closing all nonrelated items such as documents, calendars, emails, and internet sites before you join the meeting.

Choose an Environment Away from Distractions

Set the stage well in advance of your meeting. Choose a quiet space free of distractions. To avoid interruptions, address possible background sounds such as children, appliances, TVs, pets, traffic, and distracting applications. Place a sign on the door: Meeting in session.

Your background reflects you and the company you represent. Create a professional, tidy, organized background that supports your brand. If available, use a company design or, if necessary, a neutral virtual background. Use nonglare glass on any visible glass surfaces.

Maintain Eye Contact When Possible

Eye contact is crucial. Learn to maintain eye contact the way you would in person. When you’re not taking notes, always look at the camera lens, not the monitor, to help show engagement with meeting attendees. If you use paper notes, fasten them next to your camera to reference them without breaking eye contact.

Video Interviews vs. Video Meetings

In virtual interactions, such as video job interviews and regular meetings, displaying good etiquette is essential. During a job interview over video, candidates should prioritize professionalism by dressing formally, consistent with the company’s culture; maintaining eye contact; and being punctual. Candidates should listen actively, respond thoughtfully, and convey enthusiasm for the role.

Although professionalism is still important in a regular video meeting, the atmosphere may be more casual, allowing for more relaxed attire and a slightly less formal tone. Participants contribute to discussions, collaborate, and follow the agenda. Good virtual meeting etiquette includes muting when not speaking and staying focused to facilitate productive discussions.

Make Your Video Conferencing Guests Feel Welcomed

Although the welcome may differ, the joy of being welcomed is the same. In all types of meetings, ensure all attendees feel welcome. Maintain good eye contact by looking at the camera, having pleasant facial expressions, and using your guests’ names in conversation to engage them and show appreciation.

Business etiquette aims to put others at ease, create a pleasant environment, and show everyone courtesy, kindness, and respect.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the top video conferencing platforms you should know?

Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet are video conferencing platforms most commonly used. Be familiar with them and have equipment ready to participate in all three.

What types of behaviors are unacceptable for a formal video call?

In a formal video call setting, certain behaviors are generally considered unacceptable due to their potential to disrupt professionalism and productivity. These include the following:

  • distracting backgrounds that detract from professionalism;
  • inappropriate attire, such as workout or revealing clothing;
  • interrupting or talking over others, which disrupts communication flow;
  • unprofessional language or a disrespectful tone;
  • multitasking or engaging in unrelated activities, showing a lack of focus;
  • continuously experiencing technical issues, thus hindering participation;
  • lack of preparation or not having the necessary materials ready, impacting productivity; and
  • eating, drinking, slumping, blowing your nose, chewing gum, and looking everywhere but at the camera.

Can you record a video meeting?

Yes, a video call can be recorded. If you are the host, ask attendees for permission.

Some US states (including California) are “two-party” or “all-party” consent states, which generally means that the permission of both or all parties involved is required for recording. Source: Berkeley Office of Ethics.

Should you ask for feedback from guests after a video call?

Asking for feedback can be valuable if you want to improve the quality of your calls or gather insights into how your guests perceived the experience. I recommend anonymous or one-on-one feedback.


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