It often seems that videoconferences are a little bit more relaxed than in-person meetings. Maybe it’s that because we’re not in the physical presence of other people, we can loosen up more. No one will notice if you take your shoes off or your manicure is less than perfect. Simply being in the comfort of your own office or at a coffee shop and not in a meeting room can make meetings less stressful.

But that doesn’t mean that the meeting shouldn’t be taken seriously. It’s easy to forget our good behaviors in a videoconference setting. The same rules of etiquette that apply to in-person meetings also apply to video conferencing. If you notice yourself committing any of these videoconferencing bad behaviors, keep yourself in check.


Engaging in Other Conversation

There are a lot more possibilities for interruptions when you’re videoconferencing in your office, at home, or a meeting-friendly public place. Outside phone calls, people knocking at your door, and other distractions can unintentionally interrupt meetings. If you get one of these interruptions, nip it in the bud right away. Turn off or silence your phone and put a sign on your door that says “Meeting in Progress.” Also, avoid making side conversation with others at the meeting. It can wait until later.


Looking Away from the Screen

If you’re a daydreamer, this one might be hard for you. Eye contact is an important part of any interaction with another human being, and this includes communication over a webcam. Aim your eyes at the screen or camera, and keep them focused there for the duration of the meeting. Glancing away once in awhile to give your eyes a rest is fine. But don’t stare off into space or get distracted by something in your surroundings. When you do this, you disengage yourself from the meeting, which can throw off productivity and teamwork.


Browsing the Web or Other Devices

Both your eyes and your mind need to be fully present in a videoconference meeting. Unless it’s necessary to get information for the meeting, keep your Web browser closed. There’s no reason to be reading or doing something else on your computer. Browsing the web is just a way to check out from the meeting. If you have your smartphone, tablet, or other device with you at the meeting, refrain from looking at it, even to see whether you got any texts or e-mails. Any messages you get will still be there after the meeting, but the meeting only happens once.


Consuming Food or Drink

Have you ever watched a movie in which one of the characters is chewing or drinking loudly? It can be an irritating sound that makes you want to turn it off. When people eat or drink on a videoconference, it’s even worse. All that crunching, slurping and swigging is highly audible when picked up by sensitive computer microphones. Spare them the details of your breakfast or lunch and wait until after the meeting to eat. The only thing that’s acceptable is a small drink of water or coffee every now and then. But since you’re so close up on camera, keep it to a minimum.


Coming to the Conference Unprepared

While your meeting documents may be easily accessible on your computer, you shouldn’t underestimate the value of preparation. Have your documents, and anything else you need to reference, loaded up on your computer or printed out and sitting next to you. The time is takes to find a document in a folder or on your desk is time wasted and puts a pause on the meeting’s progress. Don’t take for granted that you’re at home or in your office – you still need to “bring” your documents with you.


Follow the Golden Rule

After reading the above bad behaviors, you’re probably able to come up with some examples of when you’ve seen other people do these things. If you think harder, you may realize that you’re guilty of them sometimes, too. Though we’re only human, no one likes seeing these behaviors slow down a meeting. Be mindful of what you’re doing and how it might impact your group’s progress. In short, do unto meeting participants as your would have done unto you.

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Posted by Agnes Jozwiak

Agnes is the Brand & Communication Director at ClickMeeting.

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