One thing that the Covid pandemic has taught us, is that it’s much easier to work and study remotely with new technology in place. But, just as with an in-person meeting or class, there is certain etiquette that needs to be adhered to when attending or hosting a virtual class or meeting.
Here are our tips for behaving appropriately in the virtual classroom or office.
- Wear smart clothes – including pants – in case you need to stand up. No pyjamas, swim suits, or underwear only. (Yes, we’ve had pants-less students in the classroom and even in online interviews before.)Brush your hair and be presentable as you would do for an in-person meeting.
- Do not smoke or eat while in class or the meeting – a glass of water or a cup of coffee or tea is fine, but no alcohol or food and keep the smoking until breaks.
- Check your background is appropriate with no offensive objects or posters visible. A neutral background is best to avoid distraction. (You won’t believe some of the things we have seen in our students’ backgrounds!)
- Sit up straight and pay attention to the host and other speakers. Do NOT lie in bed in the meeting or class!
- Avoid distracting habits such as clicking your pen or chewing gum.
- Pay attention to the speaker, whether it’s your host or a fellow classmate or conference attendee. The same manners apply in the virtual meeting room as in person.
- Don’t show your irritation if someone is struggling with the technology or a poor internet connection – not everyone is familiar with virtual meeting platforms such as GoogleMeet, Zoom, Skype, or Everytale, and some have temperamental internet service. Everyone is doing their best to adapt to the new way of connecting virtually.
- If you are going to record a meeting, it’s polite to let all attendees know beforehand. If the video is going to be shared externally such as on social media, you may need them to give you permission to do so.
- Always look at the screen/camera when speaking and speak clearly, don’t mumble.
- Don’t play with your phone or check your emails while in the class or meeting. Even if you think you can’t be seen, it’s obvious that you are not giving the class or meeting your full attention.
- Turn your phone and computer notifications to silent, so classmates don’t hear every time you get a new Facebook notification.
- If at any point you will need to share your screen with the group, make sure the correct screen is already open so that you don’t share an inappropriate image or web page, and don’t keep attendees waiting while you search for the screen to share.
- Inform your family or housemates that you are in a meeting so that they don’t inadvertently say or do something inappropriate while in camera view or earshot – we’ve all seen the video clips of the naked husband walking past while his wife is in a meeting!
- Be punctual when joining meetings or classes, as well as when coming back from breaks.
- Don’t leave the meeting until the host says the meeting is over.
- Keep your camera on unless you are asked to turn it off. If your camera is off you cannot actively participate and others in the meeting will wonder what you are up to – if your internet connection is poor, and there is no other way to stay connected, inform the host and ask permission to turn off your camera.
- Make sure that everyone labels themselves with their real names or what they wish to be called, and if attendees don’t know each other, take time to let everyone introduce themselves to break the ice.
Virtual meeting platforms are an excellent way to stay connected in times when social distancing and travel bans make in-person meetings not possible. It’s important to note that all of the same etiquette rules for an in-person meeting or class apply and to afford respect at all times to your host and other virtual attendees.