Business Etiquette for Virtual Meetings
Business Etiquette for Virtual Meetings Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

Virtual meetings and remote working have become the trend in our current world. Not only are virtual meetings cost-friendly and easy to set up, but their reach is also boundless! Companies have been relying on this technology for years, and it looks like they're only gearing up for more.

With everything moving quickly, it almost begs the question, do virtual meetings change acceptable behaviors too? The safe answer might be no. While its physical forms may have changed, business meeting etiquette is still about respect, order, and productivity.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

Preparation may well be the mother of all virtual business meeting rules. Preparation begins with the creation of an agenda by the host. This document should include key details of the meeting, such as who will be attending, when it should start and end, its purpose, a contingency plan, and so on. The host will then distribute the agenda among the attendees in advance. Attendees should go over the agenda as early as it's available, so they can address any questions and issues before the meeting begins.

Attendees should not ignore the technical aspect of preparation, as it can be the make or break factor of any virtual meeting. When the technology is not working, no meeting is possible. Besides, it's annoying when someone is testing their mic in the middle of the meeting; it can also disrupt the flow of ideas and cause delays.

All parties should also arrive at the virtual meeting early, as it is important to give people time to troubleshoot any problems with their audio, video and background. It also gives attendees time to practice their part of the meeting if they are presenting to fix errors or glitches during the meeting's downtime.


Start with introductions

Introductions are not just courtesy; it's about people's right to know who they're conferencing with during the meeting. Besides, a quick round of self-intros is always a good way to set the stage for the meeting. Once everyone has introduced themselves, the host should give a brief reminder about the meeting's purpose and objectives, followed by a note on ground rules such as phones on silent or questions only at the end of the meeting.

Minimize distractions

Distractions can be a pain during a virtual meeting. Just because people aren't physically in the same room, doesn't mean they won't notice someone fiddling with their cellphone or tapping noisily on their keyboards (even if they're taking notes). These things can cause real problems, such as delays when the speaker has to go back and repeat what they've already said. Besides putting cellphones on silent, here are other ways of minimizing distractions during a virtual meeting:

  1. Close all other apps and browser windows to avoid notifications
  2. No eating or working during the time of the meeting
  3. Mute mic when not in use

Be heard

Mumbling or speaking too softly on the mic is problematic. When people have to keep asking what someone was talking about, delays occur and momentum is lost, becoming a distraction in itself. When participants have to spend more time on a speaker who won't project their voice, it decreases the process' efficiency and can undermine the event's success.

Maintain privacy


At some points in a meeting, someone may have to share their computer screen with the rest of the group. When that happens, it's important to show nothing but relevant content, which means all windows and apps not used for the meeting should be closed. It's always a good practice to launch a new browser and ensure that the address bar is clear of potentially embarrassing auto-fills. Doing this maintains your privacy and your professionalism.

Do not interrupt

While the ease and convenience of virtual meetings are heaven-sent, it is not without its challenges. For example, when someone is speaking, people should wait a few seconds before adding something, or it would seem as though they were interrupting the speaker. When attending a virtual meeting, always remember that everything is transpiring on the Internet and that some participants may be having a weak connection.

Focus on the meeting

When participants don't concentrate on the activity at hand, they lose out on the meeting's full benefits. For example, they can cause delays when the speaker asks them something and they can't answer right away because they weren't paying attention. On top of that, a lack of focus could be viewed as a sign of disrespect or being rude. Avoid wandering eyes, tinkering hands and extraneous movements to ensure that focus is on the business at hand.

Stay professional


Do not be too comfortable at a virtual business meeting. Maintaining a professional posture and appearance includes good lighting and a distraction-free background such as a blank wall. The idea is to avoid catching the attention of other attendees and allow everyone to focus on the speaker - avoid beds, dirty clothes and kids or pets running around.

Wrapping up

Virtual meetings are some of the most efficient ways of gathering people together for business. Still, even with everyone working out of their homes, unprofessional behavior is never acceptable and should not be tolerated.

Business etiquette transcends physical space and is expected among people trying to do serious business, whether virtually or in person. Business etiquette for virtual meetings is all about keeping the focus, saving time and getting the job done.