After four months of constantly meeting with talking heads, I have come up with a list of what’s polite and what’s impolite, what’s effective and what’s not in online meetings. These are just suggestions for online etiquette:
Don’t hide behind a profile picture or a blank screen. In real in-person meetings, we don’t cover our face with a profile picture or a black hood. It's better to show our real face complete with the appropriate facial reactions. If you’re the one speaking and the other person’s live face is not showing, you don’t know if they’re listening, checking their social media, or have actually left for the bathroom.
Don’t use too many slides. Why? First, slides hog the screen and you lose the faces of the other people in the meeting. Second, it’s just annoying and boring. Why make people read the words on your cluttered slides if you can just tell them about it? A talking face connects better than a voice over.
Don’t turn on your device’s notification alert sounds. When you receive an alert, everyone else in the meeting will hear it and it will steal the thunder from somebody’s nice, emotional speech.
Don’t share your screen without checking it first. You might be sharing more than just your screen.
Don’t use the chat button too much. If you have a concern, best to bring it up on the table. If you’re sending a private message to another participant, that means you’re not focused on the meeting. If many people are using the chat button, there will be so many meetings going on at the same time.
Don’t wear pajamas even if they have the nicest prints. It’s a business meeting, not a slumber party.
Don’t talk too loud when using headphones. The other night, I heard my son talking in his room while having an online meeting. I thought he was fighting with somebody.
Don’t call an online meeting at very short notice. People have to prepare. They have to take a shower, comb their hair, dress properly, put on make-up. Others have to put their babies to sleep.
Avoid using videos. As of now, video images and sounds are not yet great on Zoom.
Do look straight into your device’s camera when talking or listening. It achieves a better eye-to-eye effect which is best in any conversation.
Do mute the mic when you’re not talking. Too many mics open ruins the overall audio of the meeting.
Do show gestures of encouragement when you’re agreeing with the speaker. You may show thumbs up or nod your head. Only visual cues are possible signs of support when mics are muted.
Do unmute the mic once in a while to laugh a little. Some laughter makes a meeting more enjoyable. You may briefly turn it on to laugh when someone makes a joke. Have you imagined telling a joke and the response is total silence? It would be the last joke you’d ever crack.
These are just some of my initial thoughts on the new normal. You may agree, disagree, or add your own thoughts in the comments. When the lockdown extends, I’m sure we will learn more tips and tricks to make online meetings as enjoyable as the ones where they serve coffee and donuts.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Robert Labayen spent 22 years in advertising prior to joining ABS-CBN in 2004. He was VP-Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi and Executive Creative Director at J. Walter Thompson, two of the country's leading ad agencies. He is currently the Head of Creative Communications Management at ABS-CBN. His job involves inspiring people to be their best. He is a writer, painter and songwriter.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.