This support guide has information to help decision makers put electronic meetings into practice effectively and to help people learn best practices and etiquette.
You can use Skype for Business or WebEx for state meetings (see Business Continuity Resources on DTI’s website); K12 is using Zoom for engaging students. Not everyone has online meeting experience: some participants are still learning to be at ease in this environment. You may attend non-State meetings on different meeting platforms, requiring using an app. Perhaps there’s just a voice only dial-up phone number for meeting participants because some can’t connect by computer.
Read on for helpful tips and see the box below for some pitfalls, the result of a search on “video conference etiquette”.
Try out the meeting application beforehand, if possible. Set up a meeting with coworkers to learn the tools. Here are key tasks:
Decide if all or just the host/presenter will participate via video. Are you sharing a presentation or other content via the screen? If so, that’s probably more important than participants seeing each other. Is the subject personal, requiring intense deliberation and ethical decision-making? Perhaps it’s more important that the discussants can see each other. The meeting leader should decide, when setting up the meeting, whether to use video or not.
Enhancing Meeting Quality
Technical Quality Matters: Earbuds or a headset helps when using a computer’s Voice Over IP (VOIP) capability and avoids picking up background noise. When possible, connect from your device directly—avoid video conferencing using Remote Desktop (RDP)—quality will be better. Download the app to your device. Internet connections vary. Some participants may have better audio by using a phone to connect to audio. DO NOT duplicate audio: connect audio either through your computer app OR by dialing in by phone, not both). If your Internet connection is unstable, turning off YOUR video may help.
Meeting Introductions: Set a cordial tone. Don’t forego pleasantries: we are all social beings. Use quick name introductions and check-ins to break the ice, and “level set” the mood. Remember this step if you have voice-only participants or people who don’t know each other’s voices well as this helps recognize the identities of individual speakers by voice.
Audio/Verbal Cues: Pay attention to flow. In face-toface gatherings, people see and can follow the flow of communication. If there’s no video, the leader needs explain any pause in communication. If a host stops presenting to make notes, or to have a side conversation, other participants need a verbal clue, such as, “Pardon me while I check my notes…” or “I’d like to pause the screen for a moment; please hold on.” This saves people from wondering if they’ve lost their connection to the meeting. Beware of the perils of putting yourself on mute and forgetting to turn your microphone back on before commenting!
Pacing Interaction: Be conscious of lag— a two-to-three second delay for systems to communicate. Instruct participants to use conferencing system tools (chat, “raise hand” or similar flag) to signal that they have a comment or question. If only chat is available, consider using “!” as shorthand for “I have a comment” and “?” for “I have a question.”
Video Considerations: Lighting matters. For video sessions, a bright light source (e.g., lamp or, during daylight hours, a window) should face you. Bright light behind you means viewers will not see your facial features. Striped, patterned clothes do not transmit well. Reflections from shiny jewelry can be visually distracting. Avoid rapid movements, as these degrade video quality. Eye contact matters: in a virtual meeting, speak while looking at the computer’s camera. This virtual equivalent of looking the person/people in the eye and makes conversation feel more natural. Resist the temptation to watch yourself or other participants on your screen when you are the one with the floor.