We’ve all had those cringeworthy moments on videoconference calls when a colleague or customer forgets that we can see and hear everything they’re doing. We tell ourselves never to repeat such mistakes, and never to cause such distraction or embarrassment. But it’s hard to be our best selves all the time on screen, especially with videoconferences becoming more common as remote work arrangements and widespread teams become increasingly common.
Here are four considerations for proper etiquette on a video or any other type of conference call:
Maintain a professional appearance. More and more organisations are providing flexible and remote work arrangements for employees, which can be an excellent benefit. But remember that it is still work, and you are still a professional. Don’t appear on screen with bed head or pyjama tops. When I work remotely, my routine is the same as if I were going into the office: shower, dress professionally, put on makeup, do my hair, and show up in front of the screen of my laptop. It’s the same approach as showing up for a meeting in the executive conference room. Be known for being a professional, whether in the office or not.
Work from home, not at home. Remember that you are on camera, and we can see everything in that little square of your home or vacation spot. Although your children are delightful, when discussing a serious strategic matter, a budget, or really anything, it’s not fun for your fellow attendees to watch your kids fight, jump up and down, or look at themselves on your screen. It’s better when on a call not to be feeding your toddler, walking your dog, or fixing dinner. Don’t make others in the meeting feel as if they’re inconveniencing you. Instead, retreat to a corner or a room where you can take a call with no background distractions and focus on work.
Don’t try to multitask. Focus on the meeting at hand. Don’t cook your lunch or walk to the mailbox. And please stay off the treadmill. These activities are quite distracting to the other attendees, and they shouldn’t be done during a meeting.
Look at the screen, not elsewhere. Adjust your screen so meeting participants can see you and make eye contact. Nobody wants to watch you click through email, send texts, check social media accounts, or talk to a colleague who just stepped into your office. Participating and being present in meetings will show that you respect the other attendees. And don’t forget to smile – you’re happy you have flexibility, can work remotely, and can participate in video calls. A smile not only looks better but also can inspire others.
Heeding this advice will help eliminate the cringes and lead to comments that we all appreciate hearing: “It’s always great to have Mary on the video call – she is always engaged!”
—Lori Sexton, CPA, CGMA, is a senior technical manager with the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.