Online meetings guidance and etiquette

Updated on 23 April 2022

Practical tips for participating in online meetings

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If you are new to using Microsoft Teams and other software for participating in online meetings the guidance below will help you ensure that these run as smooth as possible.

Set up your equipment

  • Use a headset rather than speakers if possible. You can also use devices like AirPods, Bluetooth headphones, or even the earphones that came with your smart phone if they have a microphone built in.
  • If you have to use your device’s mic and speakers, remember to mute your mic unless you are actually speaking.
  • For video calls, check your webcam’s video is clear. Avoid sitting with your back to the window or you’ll become a silhouette. You may wish you sit your laptop on top of a pack of paper or similar to raise the eyeline.
  • If you want to try your camera beforehand, you can click “Meet now” under the Calendar tab to start a meeting without any other people, this can help you get comfortable with your setup.
  • Think about what is behind you when you set up your camera. If you don’t want your colleagues seeing collection of Star Wars figures / unusual art work then either move them or consider a different location. Teams also has a "blur video background" option available via the menu button on the video toolbar.
  • Make sure you’re dressed appropriately: business casual is fine, but no pyjamas please.
  • Close doors to make sure you don’t have any unexpected visitors

Joining a meeting

  • Before you join the meeting, put your phone on silent, and close any other apps that may send you notifications. Pings and beeps from emails can be annoying. If you have the radio on don't forget to turn this off too.
  • Join the meeting a few minutes before the start time to make sure everything is working.
  • Remember to turn on your camera / microphone as appropriate. Unless you are leading the meeting you probably want to keep your microphone off until it is your turn to speak.
  • You may not need a convenor usually for your meeting but it’s always useful for online meetings, so nominate someone for that role.

During the meeting

  • Unlike real life, online meetings have a slight delay, just like interviews on TV news. This may take a moment to get used to.
  • Try to avoid talking over or interrupting others. If you do, pause, and let the convenor invite one of you to speak.
  • Speak a little slower than usual, and try to be as clear and concise as possible.
  • Leave a reasonable pause for people to ask questions, people will need a moment to unmute their microphone
  • Only a certain number of videos will show to other users. This means raising your hand or waving may not get the attention of others.
  • If you want to ask a question, you can use the chat window to get attention.
  • Unmute your microphone when you are speaking, and mute it again when you are finished or if someone else is talking.
  • It's best to avoid eating and drinking during meetings unless it's over lunch or dinner.
  • Stay seated and present

Technical issues

  • Your home broadband probably isn't as fast as the work connection. If you find the connection sluggish, you can turn off incoming video using the menu button on the video toolbar.
  • Do not use the VPN while using a Teams video meeting as it will affect performance.

Don't worry

Online meetings are very different than face to face meetings and, for new users, will take some getting used to. 

The bigger the meeting the more we should pay attention to etiquette.