A few years back, most meetings were done in an office or a conference room. There were certain points of etiquette that people naturally understood because it was part of the company culture.
But then the world got sent home for a year or more. We suddenly found ourselves conducting meetings virtually. Now that people are returning to the workplace, it seems virtual meetings are also part of the norm. They’re quick and convenient, save time and money on travel. They allow people to work flexibly.
However, they can also be a burden. Meeting fatigue is real. It’s making an impact on the quality of life of your employees. There are many causes of meeting fatigue. But most of them tie back to the fact that virtual meetings require behaviours of us that are unnatural and difficult to maintain, for example, maintaining eye contact with a camera.
Here are a few tips on meeting etiquette that can help everyone feel better.
Most of us have a shared company calendar and it should be easy not to double book meetings. If not, check with the potential participants to see what the best time for a meeting is. If you’re a meeting participant, it’s polite to accept or decline the meeting so the organiser can make any necessary scheduling changes.
Check Your Tech
If you’re hosting the meeting, make sure you have access to adequate internet speed and are familiar with the functions of your meeting software. You can hop on a few minutes before to make sure everything is running smoothly.
Mind the Mute Button
It should go without saying that participants who aren’t speaking need to be muted. Yet, it seems that every meeting involves either someone who isn’t muted and should be. Or there’s someone who is muted and shouldn’t be. A gentle reminder at the beginning of the meeting for everyone to mind their mute button can help keep things running smoothly.
This rule existed long before virtual meetings. But it is slightly more complicated now. Lags in internet can cause people to inadvertently interrupt. And the inability to read body language can cause the conversation to lose its rhythm. Participants may not forget meeting etiquette on purpose. The meeting host should act as a mediator and use an agreed upon signal from participants who wish to speak. Some meeting software has a “raise hand” function. Still, you can come up with your own signal. Perhaps a message in the chat box or physically raising your hand while on camera.
Stick to the Agenda
Tempting as it is, small-talk or going off on tangents can sap the energy right out of meeting attendees. Make sure anyone in the company who can call a meeting does it with a tight agenda in hand. Let your employees know that you’ll be sticking to the schedule to respect their time. This should be part of everybody’s meeting etiquette.
Allow for Cameras Off
Keeping eye contact with a machine for an extended period can be exhausting. Seeing someone on camera who is looking around or moving on and off camera can be distracting. Allow employees who aren’t actively participating to go screens-off during the meeting. This preserves their energy and removes any unnecessary distractions.
Lean Into It
There’s also nothing wrong with having a sense of humour about it. Meetings are a necessary evil. Consider passing out Conference Call Bingo cards and offering a prize to the winner. Adding some fun to your meetings can turn minor annoyance into laughter and lighten the mood for everyone.
Make leadership development part of your HR strategy and empower your leaders to guide and grow their team members. Contact us and find out how we can support you with our tailored leadership development programmes, coaching your leaders to success.