In the Zoom and in the room?

Juggling meeting with in-person and virtual participants

small team meetingA couple weeks ago, we shared a piece on workplace etiquette as we wrestle with going back to sharing workspaces. As other tools and applications hit the market that are designed to make remote work easier, I don’t see Zoom or Google Hangouts going to go away, and video conferencing is now, I believe, a permanent part of how we do business.

As we ease back into face-to-face work, there may still be some who dial in on a video conference from a remote space. This hybrid model of in-person and virtual presents some challenges for all participants. We must continue to be respectful of those in the physical room as well as those in the virtual room. Maintaining our sense of humor, effective facilitation skills, and content knowledge will be important to the success of these meetings. And when we’ve got people who are in the room together as well as participants that are virtual in the same discussion, we’ll need to be extra diligent about our ability to juggle and make everyone feel welcome.

So I offer some tips for consideration...

Tips for the attendee (for video conference)

  • Log in a couple of minutes early. Technology and internet connections can be unpredictable, so you should allow yourself some time to fix it if it doesn’t work. Starting on time is a sign of respect for everyone in the meeting, not to mention you’ll feel more comfortable if you can test everything and make sure it works instead of logging on at the last minute, troubleshooting technology if there’s an issue, and arriving onscreen a little flustered.
  • If possible, have your video on. At least turn it on for introductions and group discussions. If you’re uncomfortable with your background, use the backgrounds available through the tool (or download one)--just remember they use up more bandwidth.
  • If necessary, turn off your own self view. Watching yourself listen to your co-worker’s presentation can be a distraction. It is also draining to see yourself on camera every day. Just remember, even though you can’t see yourself, everyone else can still see you.
  • Be diligent about keeping your own audio on mute. That is, until it’s your turn to talk. Papers shuffling, coffee cups being set down, dogs barking, phones ringing and other unplanned noises can make it hard for others to hear.
  • Keep your apps up to date. You can easily become delayed with an unexpected error from having an older or out of date version of the software.


Tips for the meeting facilitator or presenter (for video conference)

  • Make sure your lighting is good. It’s easy for participants to become distracted and disinterested if they can’t see your facial expressions from poor lighting. Put a light in front of you so that people can see you and connect with you!
  • Log on early and welcome people as they arrive. Use the pre-start time to check audio, video, and help those folks who are less familiar with the tool understand how it works.
  • Use any and all of the functionality the tool offers. Utilizing annotations, white boards, attachments, chat, polling, reactions, etc., can engage the folks in the conversation in a meaningful and positive way. The more participants interact with the meeting, the less likely they are to take a snooze or be focused on another task.
  • Create space and time for human connections. If at all possible, use things like breakout rooms or a large group discussion to connect with people.
  • Make it safe for attendees. Remote attendees have challenges that facilitators may not always be aware of. Ensure you make the meeting safe for all attendees to participate at the right level for them and for the situation
  • End a few minutes early. Just like in-person meetings, ending a few minutes early allows participants to get to whatever is next in a timely manner and keep their day on track.

Tips for everyone (when some are in person and some are on video conference)

  • Follow a clear process. Make sure there’s an opportunity to hear from people in the room and on the video call.
  • Pay special attention to making sure everyone in the room can hear. You may need a microphone, or someone may need to repeat what’s been said, but everyone in the room needs to hear virtual participants, and virtual participants need to hear everyone in the room.
  • Designate an alternate contact mode if tech goes down. Tech is unpredictable, so have a back-up plan in case you lose the connection mid call. This may be someone being willing to stand by with their own phone or machine, or switching to a phone call instead of a video call.


How about you? What Zoom etiquette do you follow? Let us know below and on Social Media!

Topics: Sinikka Waugh, Business Skills & Business Acumen, Leadership & Influence

Sinikka Waugh

About the Author

Sinikka Waugh

Sinikka Waugh is a recognized leader in understanding people and in adapting tools, techniques, and processes to meet the demands of the situation at hand. Since 2006, Sinikka has provided compassionate leadership in transformation initiatives. When she isn’t in front of a class, she enjoys putting her background in English and French Literature to work, by writing blogs about the subjects she teaches every day. Are you ready? If you are, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!


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