When you think about helping your members with career advancement, video etiquette might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But, maybe it should be.
In today’s world, virtual events and meetings have taken the place of many in-person meetings and events. With so many people working from home, it can be tempting to be ultra-casual – hopping on a video call from wherever you happen to be in your house, wearing whatever you might have thrown on. These days, things you see and hear on video calls can be downright funny!
But consider this: When your members attend an in-person professional meeting or event, or when they show up for a job interview, they should put their best foot forward, right? Shouldn’t they still aim to make a good impression, even when appearing on video?
And, think about how your association’s staff appears to members: Shouldn’t your organization look professional, especially when hosting virtual events and meetings? Isn’t that a great way to help set a high standard for professionalism in your industry?
Do’s and don’ts of video etiquette for your association and members in a virtual world
When most people began working from home in early 2020, there were a slew of articles promoting best practices for virtual meetings. But even as in-person events begin to return, virtual engagement will stick around. And, as time marches on, it can be easy to forget about the finer points of video etiquette.
A good rule of thumb for attending virtual events and meetings is to pretend you’re in an office – across the desk or table from others, or at a professional event. With this in mind, here are some do’s and don’ts for video etiquette to help you and your members stay on track:
- DO: Minimize distractions so you can remain focused on the presentation or discussion. If you tend to be distracted by incoming emails, close your email window while you’re on video. Flip your mobile phone around/down so you aren’t distracted by notifications. Give the speaker your attention, just as you would in a face-to-face meeting.
- DON’T: Catch up on work, jot down your grocery list, scroll social media or work on another screen (showing the side of your face) during the meeting or event.
- DO: Turn on your camera so others know you’re present. Offer simple visual (and audio, when appropriate) feedback, such as nodding or smiling, to demonstrate that you’re paying attention. For larger virtual meetings or events, submit questions and respond to polls and surveys. Turn off background distractions like ceiling fans or TVs and close curtains if the light is too bright for the camera.
- DON’T: Turn your camera on so people think you’re there, then off while you go about other business, then back on so they think you’re still there, then off while you tackle another task, then back on…
Remembering the camera
- DO: Make sure your camera is in front of you so that others see you similarly to the way they would in an in-person meeting or event. Purchasing an inexpensive external camera can make this much easier and greatly improves the visual quality for the audience. Also, minimize the number of items in your background, and make sure that any visible items are appropriate for a professional setting. Try to have at least one clean space that you can use to participate on video calls.
- DON’T: Set your camera to the side (so it looks to viewers as if you’re looking somewhere else), or too low (so that everyone on the call is looking up your nose).
Remembering the audio
- DO: Test your audio to ensure your computer is set at an appropriate volume and does not create an echo. Check microphone settings on your device as well as in the video platform. Minimize background noise by closing windows and doors and muting the microphone when needed.
- DON’T: Turn away from your microphone while talking, or leave your microphone on while coughing, sneezing, singing, or [fill in the blank].
Dressing the part
- DO: Dress as you would if you were attending the same meeting in person.
- DON’T: Show up wearing the same thing you slept in. Or, dress for business on top, but then wear your p.j. bottoms and bunny slippers and stand up with your camera on as you walk over to close your office door.
For better or worse, video meetings are here to stay so practice mastering the fine art of video etiquette now!