Rules for Online Business Meeting Etiquette

If you’re like other small business owners, you’ve probably spent an increasing amount of time in online meetings in recent years. But there are tricky situations involved in these types of meetings, versus the old school meeting held around a conference table or in a client’s office, you may want to remember. To ensure that you’re courteous to all other meeting participants, here are 50 tips for online business meeting etiquette.

Only Schedule Necessary Meetings

The first rule of meetings, even online ones, is that they should serve a specific purpose. If it’s something you can just send in a quick email or solve in another, less time-consuming way, don’t make your team spend their time sitting through an entire meeting.

Invite Essential People

Similarly, your meeting should only include those who are actually essential to the conversation. If you invite someone who the information isn’t really relevant to, then you’ll just waste their time.

Don’t Invite Unannounced Guests

You should also make it clear to everyone attending who all is on the guest list. You don’t want anyone to be surprised when the meeting gets started.

 

Ask People About Scheduling

For online meetings, it can also be a good idea to ask essential participants about times that work for them instead of just scheduling it and then inviting people.

Send an Official Invite

Once you’ve chosen a time and date, you can send an official invite on a program like Google Calendar so that people have an easy way to reserve that specific time.

 

Confirm If Necessary

If you’ve scheduled a meeting well ahead of time, you can also just quickly confirm with the people you’re meeting with about a day ahead of time just to make sure

 

Send Out a Specific Agenda

Before the meeting, at least a few days to a week before if possible, send out an agenda to all participants detailing what the meeting will cover.

 

Offer a Set Timetable

You should also include times on your agenda so attendees will have the ability to plan out the rest of their day

 

Let People Know What to Expect

If you need people to have any documents or other materials accessible during the meeting, whether it’s an important document or some client contact information, make that clear beforehand

 

Make Sure Everyone Can Access Online Conference Rooms

If you are holding a virtual meeting, it’s a good idea to check in with everyone beforehand to make sure they have access to the program you intend to use. Let them know with plenty of time in case they need to download an app in order to attend your meeting

 

Have a Test Beforehand

It’s also a good idea for you to test your own meeting app or program beforehand just to make sure the meeting will go smoothly

 

Have an Appropriate User Name and Photo

If you’re using a program like Skype for meetings, make sure your username and photo are appropriate for professional meetings

 

Confirm Time Zones

With virtual meetings, you also need to be clear about the time zone when you’re scheduling. Don’t just assume new contacts are in your time zone

 

Show Up on Time

Whether you’re running the meeting or just attending as a guest, you need to show up on time. Realistically, you should be a little bit early just to be safe

 

Call If You Have a Conflict

If you do have an emergency or conflict that will make you miss a meeting or be late, you need to let the host or attendees know as soon as possible. If your conflict arises the day of the meeting, that probably means you need to call the person so you can be sure they get the message

 

Wait for Everyone to Arrive

Once you’ve dialled in or entered your online conference room, welcome people as they show up, but wait for everyone you know is attending before really diving in

 

Choose a Quiet Location

Even though you can have online meetings from basically anywhere, it’s best to choose somewhere quiet where there won’t be a lot of distractions or noise

 

Establish Volumes Right Away

When everyone shows up in an online conference, have everyone say hello to test the volume so you can make adjustments right away if necessary

 

Dress Appropriately

If you’re partaking in a video conference, you do need to consider your appearance. It might not be as important as it is for in-person meetings. But you still need to look professional

 

Make Introductions

If you’ve invited people who might not know each other to an online meeting, make sure you introduce them personally or give them the opportunity to introduce themselves at the start of the meeting

 

Remember Names

Whether you’re meeting someone for the first time or the seventh time, remembering names and actually using them when greeting people can go a long way

 

Stay on Topic

During the meeting, you might go off on side conversations from time to time. But make sure you always lead the conversation back to the main purpose and keep an eye on the clock so you can be courteous of everyone’s time

 

Speak Loudly

When you’re speaking during a meeting, be sure to enunciate and speak loudly enough for everyone to hear you

 

Don’t Interrupt Others

And when others are talking, always let them finish before offering a thought of your own

 

Avoid Speaking Right Away

When a question is posed to the whole group, you can avoid awkward interruptions by waiting for a second to speak up. If others do so right away, then wait your turn. If no one speaks up, you’re good to go

 

Ask Before Sharing Long Thoughts

If you have a long thought or idea to share, ask if it’s okay to do so beforehand, in case you’re running short on time. You can always round it up in an email later or share in another meeting

 

Mute When You’re Not Speaking

To avoid background noises becoming a distraction for others, simply mute yourself when you’re not speaking for a fair amount of time

 

Listen Carefully

Also while others are talking, make sure you actually listen. You don’t want to miss something and then bring it up in a question later

 

Show That You’re Listening

You should also actually show people that you’re listening when they talk if you’re in a video conference. Don’t just bury your head in your notes. Look at them and practice active listening

 

Use Care With Humor

If you feel the need to use humor during meetings, just make sure that it’s appropriate for your audience. This is much easier when you’re just talking to close team members. But use more caution when meeting with clients or people you don’t know well

 

Provide Copies of Essential Documents

If you reference any important documents during your meeting, send those items to meeting participants before or during so they can have them for reference

 

Be Prepared With Presentation Materials

And if you need any equipment to make a presentation, make sure everything is in good working order beforehand so you don’t waste time trying to get it to work

 

Know Your Audience

When preparing your presentation or other agenda items, it’s also important that you consider your audience and cater your messaging specifically to them. Don’t waste people’s time with pitches that aren’t relevant. And don’t use a tone or topic that isn’t likely to appeal to the exact people you’re meeting with

 

Put Your Phone Away

You should also keep your phone silenced during meetings so that it doesn’t interrupt

 

Avoid Nervous Habits

It’s natural in some cases for meeting participants to practice nervous habits like clicking pens or smacking gum. But make a conscious effort to avoid those during professional meetings

 

Don’t Eat While Talking

You should also avoid eating during online meetings. So have a snack beforehand. And only sip water when it’s someone else’s turn to talk if necessary

 

Have a Set Time for Questions

It’s also a good idea to have a set time for people to ask questions if you’re the one leading the meeting. And if you’re attending, make sure you locate that opportunity on the agenda so you know when to bring up any points

 

Don’t Dominate the Questions Section

When that questions section does come around, you may ask one or two questions. But don’t dominate the conversation. Give others a chance too

 

Offer Credit for Ideas

If you’re bringing up anything during a meeting that wasn’t your idea initially, make sure you give credit to the originator. If you don’t, people will just assume it was your idea.

 

Discuss Personal Matters After the Meeting

If anything comes up during a group meeting that’s really only relevant to you and one other person, make time to discuss it later instead of taking up everyone else’s time

 

Don’t Call People Out

You might also sometimes come across situations where a member of your team makes a mistake that negatively impacts your meeting. But don’t use meeting time to lecture them. Call a private meeting with that person afterwards to discuss if necessary

 

Keep Your Cool

And no matter whom you’re dealing with, don’t lose your temper during a meeting

 

Give Breaks for Lengthy Meetings

If you’re hosting a meeting that’s going to be a few hours or more, including scheduled breaks into your agenda so people can grab something to eat, check their phones and use the bathroom

 

End on Time

Throughout the meeting, keep an eye on the clock so you can be sure to end the meeting when you said you would

 

Give People the Opportunity to Leave

If by chance, you didn’t get a chance to discuss everything you wanted to in the time allotted, you can ask people if they’d like to stay and finish the meeting. But give people the chance to leave on time if they have prior commitments

 

Thank Everyone for Attending

If you called the meeting, make sure you also say thank you to everyone who attended before they leave

 

Be Cognizant of Other Languages and Cultures

In some cases, you might also find yourself meeting with people from different backgrounds and cultures. So be aware of their language and customs to the best of your ability before the meeting

 

Follow Up With Notes

After your meeting, it’s a good idea to share some notes or reminders with people via email. Or if you don’t have anything specific to follow up on, send a quick thank you note

 

Avoid Sharing Meeting Information With Others

When it comes to meetings, the items discussed should stay within the group of attendees, unless you’ve clearly explained otherwise. So don’t share details with others who weren’t in attendance

 

Complete Any Action Items

And if you volunteered to complete any tasks after your meeting, make sure you follow up on those items promptly.

                       

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