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8 virtual meeting etiquette tips for remote and hybrid teams
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8 virtual meeting etiquette tips for remote and hybrid teams

Hosting virtual meetings where everyone feels heard can be tough. Here are 8 key virtual meeting etiquette tips so you can run better meetings.

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In Victorian times, dinner parties had strict table etiquette. So strict, in fact, guests weren’t allowed to mention the food itself! Its taste, quality, and presentation were considered a forbidden topic of conversation.*

Fast forward to today and dinner parties are pretty different from Victorian times, but there are still rules and etiquette to follow. For example, you wouldn’t interrupt the host while they are speaking, talk over anyone, or engage in distracting behavior like checking your phone in the middle of the meal (well, most of us wouldn’t). 

Similarly, in a virtual meeting, it's important to be respectful and mindful of others and avoid any behavior that might be disruptive or rude, like not giving everyone a chance to voice their opinion, dismissing someone’s suggestion without explanation, or messaging on Slack during someone’s presentation. 

However, with so many meetings in your calendar, it can be difficult to pay attention. This means even the most respectful of us sometimes get distracted or miss something important. 

Although there are certainly meetings on everyone’s calendar that could be nixed, the reality is that we can’t cut all of them out. That means you and your team need to lean into virtual meeting etiquette that focuses on making better use of everyone’s time and treating everyone how you want to be treated. This way, you can make meetings more engaging and productive, and build cohesion and a company culture people want to be part of. 

In this article, we’ll dive into eight key tips for virtual meeting etiquette for remote and hybrid teams to inspire you and help you better connect and communicate with your team. This way, everyone feels like they have a seat at the table, and will be more enthusiastic about RSVP-ing “yes” to your next meeting. 

Want better virtual meetings where everyone gets heard? 
Switchboard lets everyone have a seat at the table for virtual collaboration and team discussions. 
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*Mind your manners! Victorian table etiquette

8 virtual meeting etiquette rules to run better meetings  

To make virtual meetings more engaging, you need to build a culture around respect and treating team members how you’d like to be treated—and use meeting etiquette that fosters this. 

If you find it challenging to participate or pay attention during virtual meetings, it’s important to think about why that’s happening. Odds are, if you’re experiencing this, other people on your team are, too.

Here are eight virtual meeting best practices you can use to run more engaging, productive meetings that let people get work done together and help build relationships and company culture. 

1. Start with a check-in and make everyone feel welcome

Contrary to popular belief, effective meetings aren’t all work, work, work. In fact, it’s crucial to see how everyone’s doing and whether they need support before you dive into your agenda. This can help people on the team get to know each other better, and get visibility on current workloads and stressors.

A good way to see what’s on everyone’s plate and help people feel comfortable during meetings is to start with a "red, yellow, green" check-in. Everyone picks a color to describe how they're feeling that day:

  • Red: not doing well and need help
  • Yellow: okay, but could be better / have too many things going on
  • Green: feeling great and energized

If someone chooses red, they can talk about what's going on and ask for support. If someone chooses green, they can share something good that's happening.

These check-ins help build team cohesion and relationships based on empathy and trust, which fosters collaboration. You can also better gauge how, when, and what to communicate to your team during the meeting, and make sure it’s being heard.

Pro tip: Use Switchboard to start your meetings with a “red, yellow, green” poll. 

When you start your meeting, ask your team members to indicate how they're feeling using a Switchboard poll. This way, you'll be able to get a sense of the team's overall mood and adjust the meeting accordingly. For instance, if many people select "red," you'll know not to begin with bad news like losing a client. Instead, consider starting with a fun activity to lighten the mood.
Screenshot of Switchboard polling app
Switchboard makes it easy to understand how your employees are feeling before you start your meeting. Source: Switchboard

2. Be sure everyone can access the materials they need 

A big part of hosting productive meetings is providing everyone with the materials they need before, during, and after the meeting. This means sending your meeting agenda and pre-read document to attendees before the meeting. These outline the topics that will be discussed and provide links to supporting materials or documents. 

Sharing these ahead of the meeting helps save time since you don’t have to go over your agenda at the start of the meeting or waste time while people hunt for the right documents or links.  

This way, everyone can come to the meeting prepared to do work—and collaborate—instead of spending half of it figuring out what to talk about. 

Pro tip: Use Switchboard to store and share key meeting materials, including your meeting agenda and pre-read document. This lets everyone know what’s on the menu before the meeting and where to find it. With Switchboard, no one needs to request access to important files and you can save time sending out materials before each meeting.
Screenshot of a meeting agenda in a Switchboard room
Switchboard lets your team access your meeting agenda before, during, and after the meeting. Source: Switchboard

3. Create a productive environment 

Just as throwing in ingredients from all over the world can lead to some great new dishes, collaborative meetings where everyone has a chance to brainstorm and contribute can lead to great ideas and stronger team performance

That’s not possible when you’re relying only on screen sharing and can’t work together on files and documents and get “hands-on” with projects. In this scenario, instead of showing up to meetings ready to contribute, you’re more likely to switch yourself, and your camera, off. It’s like watching someone eat while you’ve got your nose pressed up against the restaurant window. 

To foster an environment where more collaborative meetings are possible, you need to invest in virtual meeting platforms that let you work side-by-side on files and documents in real time and continue async afterward. You can also keep everything in your meeting room for next time, so you can pick up where you left off.

In Switchboard, you get a collaborative digital workspace and can create permanent, interactive meeting and project rooms for any occasion: design reviews, sprint planning, incident response war rooms, and project rooms, to name a few. This way, you always have a dedicated space for every type of meeting and can do better, more focused work. 

For example, let’s say you’re running a small, remote social media agency and regularly communicate with your marketing team about a client’s branding strategy. With Switchboard, you can populate your project room with their social media accounts, brand bible, color scheme, and content management system. This lets you work side-by-side with your team—and reference key materials—during the meeting. And you can always come back to it even after the meeting’s over to add any notes or resources you may need next time.

4. Ask everyone to keep cameras on 

One of the biggest virtual meeting challenges is mimicking the face-to-face component that helps foster closeness and team camaraderie among in-person teams. 

32% of employees say having the camera off during a meeting encourages them to multitask. That’s why it’s important to ask everyone to keep their cameras on—or set expectations for the types of meetings when a person can turn off their camera—as it helps keep people engaged. 

When you show up to collaborative team meetings with your camera on, it implies you’re ready to form a connection. It’s like seeing everyone around at your dining table, instead of faintly hearing their voices across the room. 

Check out our post for more on the differences between in-person and virtual meetings.

5. Limit distractions

It’s not relaxing to eat at a messy table or be in a meeting when you’re surrounded by “digital clutter.” That’s why you should clear your workspace of distractions before the meeting so you’re not tempted to answer emails or check your social media. Easy ways to do this are to turn off notifications and close distracting tabs during meetings. 

By making sure you’ve set up a digital environment free from distraction, all meeting participants are more likely to stay on the same page without switching off or unintentionally being rude by getting distracted. 

Pro tip: Use Switchboard to keep everything you need for your meeting directly in your meeting room—and say bye to switching between distracting tools or tabs to access key information. Keep everyone’s full attention in one place to show, not just tell, your team members you respect them. 
Screenshot of multiple documents and files in Switchboard
Switchboard helps you give your team members your full attention and participation by keeping everything you need in one place. Source: Switchboard

6. Consider different types of learners by sharing visual content

Sharing visual content during meetings helps you be responsive to the needs of different types of learners across your team. 

For example, visual learners might otherwise struggle to actively participate as much as other learner types, like auditory learners and reading and writing learners. Similarly, a short Loom video outlining a task or concept can be more useful to neurodiverse members of the team who find it difficult to concentrate when reviewing a list of written instructions.

Sharing visual content, such as images, videos, and PDFs during meetings can also inspire creativity by providing your people with new ideas, perspectives, and approaches. This helps them work together in new and different ways, and tackle bigger problems.

Pro tip: Use Switchboard to share images, videos, PDFs, files, documents, virtual games, browsers, and web apps—not just your screen. This way, you can share the things that truly spark creativity and collaboration.  
Screenshot of “Open URL” box in Switchboard
Switchboard lets everyone on your team access the tools and apps they already work with during your meeting, and all from one place.  Source: Switchboard

7. Document important action items and next steps

To keep meetings consistent and enable ideas to naturally build off each other, it’s important to document meeting notes, important action items, and next steps. This makes it easier to keep track of what everyone is doing and what needs to be delegated to achieve your goals. 

If you’re using Switchboard, you can keep your notes, meeting agenda, and project management tool open during the meeting, and add any key next steps or tasks you need to follow up on. You can also record your meeting and add it directly to your persistent meeting room, which will save it along with the rest of your materials so it’s easy for anyone who couldn’t attend to catch up. 

8. Cancel the meeting when you need to

It’s easy to fall into patterns and bad habits, like the temptation to turn every communication over a few sentences into a meeting, especially when you depend on virtual meetings to communicate and connect with your team. Sometimes, however, the most productive—and polite—meeting is the one you have the confidence to cancel. 

If you can fit your meeting agenda into a brief email or Loom, it could be a better use of everyone’s time than getting them to take time out of their busy schedules for a meeting. This type of online meeting etiquette shows your team that their time is valuable and you’re not holding meetings for meetings’ sake. So when you do hold a meeting, they’ll know it’s really necessary.

Set the ground rules for successful virtual meetings with Switchboard

Like dinner party etiquette, virtual meeting etiquette ensures mutual respect for others and that everyone has the best possible time. It also makes sure all the tools are being used properly, and that everyone has a place set for them when they arrive. 

Even though the days of strict Victorian etiquette are long gone, as the host, you still need to create the right conditions for the conversation and good times to flow. This way, everyone leaves the meeting feeling like it was a productive use of their time. 

That’s why it’s important to find ways to keep your meetings fruitful and professional while enabling employees to do their best work. Lean into virtual meeting etiquette that makes the best use of everyone’s time—and respects that time. 

Ground rules like starting with a check-in, making sure everyone can access the materials they need and get work done, limiting distractions, encouraging creativity, and documenting important action items can help you engage your team and get more done. 

And, with fun virtual meeting platforms like Switchboard as your hub, you get all the features you need for more engaging meetings. For example, persistent meeting rooms, a multiplayer experience, and the ability to share and work side-by-side on browser-based apps, documents, and files—to foster true focus, collaboration, and participation. 

Want better virtual meetings where everyone gets heard? 
Switchboard lets everyone have a seat at the table for virtual collaboration and team discussions. 
Sign up for free.

Frequently asked questions about virtual meeting etiquette

What are do's and don'ts of virtual meetings?

There are many do’s and don’ts of virtual meetings. Some don’ts include: being insensitive to background noise for remote or hybrid meetings (including forgetting to wear a headset), multitasking, joining a meeting with a poor internet connection that constantly drops, and not having the right meeting software. 

Some virtual meeting do’s:

  • Start with a check-in
  • Make sure everyone can access the materials they need
  • Make sure everyone can get work done during the meeting
  • Ask everyone to keep cameras on
  • Limit distractions
  • Encourage creativity and sharing visual content 
  • Document important action items and next steps

What are the ground rules for virtual meetings?

The ground rules for virtual meetings are: 

  1. Make sure everyone feels comfortable participating and treats each other the way they’d like to be treated. 
  2. Encourage proper virtual meeting etiquette that makes everyone feel respected and heard.
  3. Invest in the right video meeting platforms that enable open communication, productive collaboration, and side-by-side working. 

Why is virtual meeting etiquette important?

Virtual meeting etiquette is important because it ensures everyone has the chance to contribute. It also helps to ensure that everyone’s ideas are heard, and no one’s engaging in distracting side conversations or speaking over the meeting host. This makes it easier to get work done in both hybrid or remote working and establishes a culture of respect that you can bring to each video call and interaction.

Stop, collaborate, and listen

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Want better virtual meetings where everyone gets heard?

Switchboard lets everyone have a seat at the table for virtual collaboration and team discussions.