Some may seem obvious, others not so much, but by following a few road rules, you can help yourself and your career navigate the videoconference highway with class and substance.

Dress appropriately

Groom and dress as if you were going to the office or another worksite, whether you are or not. When you look good, you feel more confident and can better represent your ideas. And of course, if there are customers or other VIPs in the presentation or meeting, you will be all the more impressive.


It’s a marathon, not a sprint

The final minutes before a meeting can be a stressful time. Often, documents to be considered are posted, there may be questions about the agenda or materials, someone may change agendas, someone else’s meeting may be running over, and so on. So, in any setting, it’s wise to try not to run meetings up against each other, for the time to brief yourself,  and make adjustments as needed.


Get ready for your closeup

It is difficult for a speaker to gauge audience reaction when everyone has their cameras turned off, and you will better maintain collegial relationships when your peers can remember what you look like.


That said, if events prevent you from joining via video, e.g. you are driving or have low bandwidth, it is thoughtful to briefly mention it at the beginning of the meeting by voice or in chat so that people are aware.


If you have recently changed your desk, chair or computer setup, make sure you are still looking into the camera at the best height and angle. Adjust your setup so that you face a window or are exposed to plenty of light. If you’ve added a lamp, its position may need adjustment. Webcam video settings apps such as iGlasses can help you fine-tune your profile across your meeting platforms.


Your background, whether selected via app or your own, should be attractive but not overwhelming. If you select a software background in order to hide your overstuffed room or promote your company, test beforehand to make sure that you have the bandwidth and processor to support it; a background that pixelates or is partially missing, will detract from your comments when the spotlight is on you. Depending on the context and topic, you might also wish to consider whether a background displaying a palatial mansion or beach resort is really your best look.


One to a comment

It’s harder for everyone to stay focused these days, so try to focus your comments on one major topic, and wait for others to chime in. Then, move on to a new topic when the facilitator or a lull in the conversation signals that it’s time to do so.


Mute your mic

To encourage a “round robin” where everyone has their say, mute your mic after speaking, which encourages others to express their own views, and then jump back in as the occasion warrants. Sometimes, people make a comment and then keep the mic open in case someone asks a question. If you do that, however, it can be difficult to determine if you are finished speaking or not. And, the more mics are muted, the less likely that echo, or background noise from a home, yard or road will distract the audience from the point at hand.


Raise your hand and cast your vote

If other attendees are using the “raise your hand” feature to queue up for comments or respond to group questions, you should, too. Promptly. You don’t want to be known as the person who prolonged the meeting because the initial vote tally didn’t equal the number of participants. If you’re presenting, especially for any length of time, you can also encourage your audience to use the audience response icons to let you know if you’re getting too far into the weeds, or need to slow down.



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Stay in the moment

It can be tempting to check your phone or another application during a meeting, but people do notice, and what you are signaling is that the meeting is not worth your full attention. You might also miss out on key information or an opportunity to give input. Using attentive body language, taking notes if needed, and keeping your eyes focused will actually help you stay engaged, just as sitting in the front row did in your least-favorite class.


Explain the link

If you have a relevant URL or file to drop into the chat, make sure you precede it with a word or two so that people who stepped away or missed your last comment understand the context. However, if a file requires a more extensive preamble, you should add it later on the Teams or other collaboration page, so that reading your introduction doesn’t hold up the meeting.


Let’s not do lunch

Try to eat before, not during the meeting. You may have gotten away with it at the office, but it is more conspicuous on video,  and you may miss that perfect opening to propose your new approach. However, if you need a drink at hand to avoid coughing or squeaking, store it within reaching distance but off camera, and have a sip or two just before the meeting begins. A cough drop might also serve.


The end is the beginning

If the agenda has been covered and next steps are clear, give the gift of time, and adjourn. Just as if you were in the office, make sure someone is responsible for documenting the go-do’s (no one should have to read the transcript for that), and that they are sent around to everyone who needs them, including no-shows, absent-with-permission, and key managers.