Cultivate Blog

Best practices for virtual meetings and events: Online etiquette

by | Sep 1, 2020 | New

The coronavirus has shifted many things, including the ways we meet, communicate, and interact with one another in a professional environment. Nowadays, instead of chatting by the water-cooler, employees depend on video conferencing tools to help steer conversation and progress company culture. Managers and Human Resource professionals resort to happy hours and games as a strategy for increasing engagement. Not to mention that all of these digital platforms have us on display much more often than in pre-pandemic days.

But don’t fret — your Trusted Source for all things virtual is here to help. We compiled a list of best practices for virtual meetings and events, narrowed them down by practicality, and now, we’re bringing them to you in a three-part series. From online etiquette and icebreakers to conquering a great screen presence, we’re dishing it all. First on our list: online etiquette. Pinky’s up!

It’s no secret that we’re all having some trouble communicating these days. The good news is that we have every intention of being well-mannered. Etiquette is more than saying “please” and “thank you;” it’s the protocol for being a respected, kind professional. While interacting with others outside of the home, polite behavior is often considered acceptable by others through body language cues or warm expressions. But through a webcam, all of those signals go right out the window. How can we know if we’re behaving cordially online? Equal parts tender and tongue-in-cheek. Here are a couple of scenarios:

Scenario: How do you politely end a phone call or a Zoom chat that’s dragging on or has flown past the scheduled time frame?
Best practice: “Well, it was wonderful to hear your voice, Sam, I’m glad we got this opportunity to talk.” Or, “I’m really enjoying this conversation, but working-from-home keeps my schedule pretty packed these days so I need to run.” Just try not to be abrupt; let them finish their train-of-thought before chiming in with a farewell.

Scenario: A set weekly social zoom call that feels more mandatory than fun. Can I not attend?
Best practice: Opt to join-in on a biweekly or monthly cadence, and let your colleagues know that’s how you plan to engage. Spontaneity is just as valid a sensation in quarantine as out. Some people find social structure comforting; others find it claustrophobic. Do what’s best for you.

Scenario: Your Wifi signal is struggling. Thus your camera isn’t working well?
Best practice: When you have a break in the conversation, let others know. “I’m doing a lot of nodding over here. Sorry, my camera isn’t clear, but I think these sound like great ideas.” Let them know you’re doing your best to pay attention, even if your Wifi signal is telling another story.

All in all, online etiquette boils down to common courtesy. If you feel like you’re interpreting an email or Slack exchange negatively, just ask the other person to politely clarify. If you feel obligated to attend a virtual gathering and don’t feel up to it, let the host know. Engage with and respond to others the way you want to be treated. It’s as simple as that.


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