181: Follow these Zoom etiquette tips to stay sane and have better virtual meetings (Audio/Video)

Estimated read time: 5 minutes



With so many Zoom meetings happening nowadays I thought it would be helpful to share some of my Zoom etiquette tips worth considering.

In Episode 181 of of the Business Storytelling Podcast, which was also live-streamed to my LinkedIn and Twitter/Periscope I share:

  • How to join a call more professionally
  • How to have a good discussion
  • How to minimize tech issues
  • And more…

Zoom etiquette when joining a call

When you join a team meeting, announce yourself and say something like “Hello, it’s Christoph.” Granted this wouldn’t work when there are 80 people on a call but is manageable when there are 10-15.

It’s also proper zoom etiquette for the meeting leader to formally start the meeting. Consider making it fun! “Let’s get started” on time!

I did share this Twitter thread as a parody, but it does happen! Don’t let it!



Zoom etiquette be on time

Truly consider whether or not everyone needs to be on video. First of all, what’s the point of 90 little boxes? Doug Wagner and I discussed how this leads to burnout on the WMT Morning Show:

Plus, people don’t usually look at the camera because they are looking at themselves on the screen. It’s just not the same as being face to face.

Technology usually has a certain level of friction build in. But technology also advances and gets better. For example, when I first started recording my podcast with Anchor my guests would have to download the app. Today, they simply click the join link and it opens in their browser.

Read next: Will this virtual background work for my video Zoom business meeting?

At the end of the day, there are things you – the participant – can do to practice better Zoom etiquette when it comes to technology:

  • Test your setup
  • Don’t talk on mute
  • Pay attention
  • Have decent WiFi
  • Video off when WiFi is less than optimal
  • Show up a minute or two or five early to make sure you are good to go

Zoom etiquette during discussions

Allow time for true collaboration. Give everyone a chance to speak as necessary. Go around the room, for example. On the flip side, participants don’t be shy of speaking up.

Zoom etiquette when it comes to agenda and purpose

We’ve all been in meetings that were just bad. A waste of our time. Why am I here? Who thought this was necessary? This could have been an email or Slack conversation.

Read next: When and how to use a Slack channel to communicate with people

Many times when meetings blow it comes back to one or more or these:

  • The need wasn’t clear
  • The presenter didn’t tell a story or worse didn’t tell a relevant story. Some people do like to hear themselves talk!
  • It wasn’t clear what the leader actually wanted from the team.
  • It wasn’t engaging.

All of these can be overcome with some simple steps:

  1. Determine if the meeting is even needed.
  2. What’s its goal and what will we get out of it.
  3. Make a plan with timelines before the end of the meeting.

Consider the cost of the meeting. If you have 15 people in the meeting, the cost of the meeting is 15 x salaries + benefits = cost.

There’s also additional cost being interrupted from other tasks and then the ramp up time to get back into the other tasks.

Read next: The value of thinking time can’t be measured in time 

Once you get used to this process, it can be done walking to a meeting – or better: Do this before scheduling a meeting. And you can adjust it on the fly even. No need to overthink it. Just think the right amount!

How do I know this meeting is needed?  Well, I’ve been to more than my fair share of bad meetings. Ones where they just dump stuff on you. Stuff their bosses thought was necessary to share.

When information needs to be shared, that can often be done via email or a Slack announcement. After people had time to digest have a meeting to review what was shared. Explain further, answer questions, etc.

Just be sure that you are ready to actually answer questions and are open to collaboration when the meeting does happen.

Understand this for better Zoom etiquette communication

Why do we share stuff that is less than in an optimal format anyway? Easy answer: Because it seems important to us. So we think it’s important for a certain meeting. But it’s really not.

This is the concept of companies sending press releases about stuff that’s important to them but it’s not important to their customers.

I remember times as a rookie journalist when editors would cut the heck out of my stories.

Hey, hey, that sentence is needed!

Why?

Because I put it in there and the story can’t  be told without it.

Of course, most of the time it totally could be told without it and sometimes even made the story better. But through my lense it was needed and important. It’s hard to distance ourselves from ourselves afterall. But we have to try. Then melt your own needs with the needs of the audience. At the end of the day, you’ll only get results when your message resonates.

Here’s an example from this blog: 

My social media how-to articles perform by far the best. But they are not my favorites to write. These kind of articles are, but far fewer read them. So I do them both. Sometimes at the same time and in the same post even. I melt interests! It’s meaningful for all of us.

Just make sure to keep your audience in mind and make it worth their time. Once you do they’ll make it worth yours.

Zoom etiquette wrap

It’s possible to have better Zoom meetings through better Zoom etiquette. This is a starting point to help all of us get there. Some teams likely have other Zoom etiquette areas of improvements. That’s just fine. Bring them up with the team and find your own best practices when it comes to Zoom meetings and making them better.