Skip to main content

Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Why trust us?

The do’s and don’ts of video conferencing etiquette

Whether you’re a veteran remote worker or you’ve recently found yourself having to work from home, at some point you’ll probably have to conduct a meeting with your co-workers via a video conference call. And while you might know how to set up video calling for a meeting, it’s also important to be aware of how to practice proper video conferencing etiquette.

That said, we’ve come up with a quick guide to the do’s and don’ts of video conferencing etiquette, to help you attend or conduct your meetings as smoothly as possible.

The Dos

Test your hardware and internet connection beforehand

Fast internet speed test

Nothing causes a video conference call to come to a screeching, awkward halt quite like slow internet speeds, connectivity issues, or malfunctioning hardware. One of the most important things to do before joining a call or hosting one is making sure that your hardware works (microphone, speakers, headphones) and that your internet speeds are fast enough to support a decent level of quality for a video call. Fortunately, there are a number of quick online internet speed tests you can use to check your internet connection.

For video calling apps like Skype, the required speeds for video calls depends on the complexity of the video call itself. For example, according to Skype: the minimum required download/upload speed for a video call involving seven or more people would be 4Mbps/128kbps. The recommended speed for a call that large would be 8Mbps/512kbps.

When it comes to testing your hardware, most video conferencing apps will help you test your microphone, webcam, and speakers to confirm that they’ll work during the meeting. Check their settings menu if you can’t spot the test(s) straight away.

Even if you do run into issues, it’s best to know if your setup has a problem beforehand so that you can troubleshoot it before your meeting starts.

Blur or change your background

Zoom virtual background
Apply a virtual background to your Zoom video conferences. Image used with permission by copyright holder

Maybe you don’t have an office at home. Or maybe you found a quiet place in which you could attend your meeting but the room itself might be distractingly messy or have walls with not-so-bland decor. If you don’t have the time (or the inclination) to alter the room itself, you can still hide the appearance of your chosen space via background features offered in some video conferencing clients. For example, Zoom allows its users to add a fun virtual background to their video instead of just showing the contents of their messy rooms. Both Skype and Microsoft Teams offer a “background blur” feature that allows you to blur your actual background and places the focus of your video on you.

Know when to video conference and when to Slack

Not every work issue needs to be hashed out via video calls. Make sure that the topic of discussion is appropriate for a video conference. If it can be handled via Slack or an email, then use those methods. Generally speaking, longer conversations and remote training sessions are the best uses for video calls.

Video conference calls can be difficult to coordinate (especially as the number of participants increases) and time-consuming. Not everyone can just hop on a call, so be mindful of that while deciding whether or not to have a video conference meeting.

Find a quiet, private space or use a white noise machine

Image used with permission by copyright holder

It’s important to find a quiet space for your video calls so that you can hear your meeting and so that you’re not being disruptive to others while your mic has to be on. But if you work from home and have kids or pets it can be hard to find a quiet room to attend your video conference call meeting. When background noise is unavoidable, or if your work requires privacy, it may be worth it to use a white noise machine to help drown out excess background noises and muffle your own private conversations.

The Don’ts

Don’t talk over each other. Use the chat function to ask questions

Zoom chat screenshot

Chances are you’ll have questions about the content presented or discussed during your meeting. But it can be hard to get everyone’s attention during the meeting to ask your question. You could try interrupting or talking over someone so you can ask your question. But that’s rude. Plus, it can be disruptive to constantly have to stop the flow of the meeting to answer questions as they come up.

So what should you do? The best, least intrusive method is to use your video conferencing app’s chat function, if it has one. This way, you and your colleagues can submit all the questions you want during the meeting without audibly interrupting anyone who is speaking. And then, during a natural lull in the meeting, the presenter or meeting host can answer those questions at their convenience because the questions will be viewable by everyone in the chat message sidebar.

Don’t keep your mic on if you’re not speaking

Zoom mute screenshot

If it’s not your turn to speak during the meeting, keep your microphone muted. Otherwise, your video conference call will stream the sounds of your movements. This is especially important if you plan to eat during the meeting, tend to fidget loudly, or if you happen to be in a place that isn’t very quiet like a coffee shop or maybe your home. These background noises can be very distracting and interrupt your co-workers when it’s their turn to speak. Video calling clients like Zoom will often have a microphone icon you can tap on to mute or unmute your microphone during the meeting.

Don’t let yourself get distracted during the meeting

You might be tempted to work on other tasks during the video meeting. If possible, try not to do that and just focus on the meeting at hand and being present with your co-workers. The thing about video conferencing is that your video presence tends to be magnified and it will be more obvious to your co-workers that you aren’t paying attention if you constantly appear to be fidgeting, moving around, or gazing elsewhere while someone else is talking. Taking notes on the content discussed during the meeting is fine, but other activities should be kept to a minimum or avoided.

Don’t look sloppy: Dress for your audience

Not all video conference calls are created equal and your outfits should match the expectations of your audiences. So, if it’s just your family and friends, you could probably get away with your comfiest sweatpants/t-shirt combo. But with your co-workers, it’s probably best to adhere to your company’s dress code, at least from the waist up — though that only works if you know you won’t be getting up to move around during the meeting.

Overall, it’s best to match your video call look to how you’d normally look in the office.

Editors' Recommendations

Anita George
Anita has been a technology reporter since 2013 and currently writes for the Computing section at Digital Trends. She began…
Skype wants to be your videoconferencing tool of choice
skype video group mobile pc chat

Videoconferencing tools are exploding in popularity due to the global outbreak of coronavirus, officially called COVID-19, which has lead huge numbers of people to start remote working for the first time. Zoom has gotten most of the attention, both as an invaluable tool for video meetings and due to criticism of some of its security measures. But Microsoft's Skype is trying to make up the difference, reminding users of features which should make it more appealing to users who want to set up a quick and easy meeting, especially for those meeting with others who don't want to install yet another app.

Zoom has not only had problems with hackers crashing meetings in what has been termed "zoombombing." Its recently updated privacy policies have also come under fire. Earlier this week, experts criticized Zoom's new privacy policy saying that it did not address the root concerns that Zoom may be sharing private data with companies like Google. And people have reason to be skeptical of Zoom, given that it was recently revealed that the iOS app was sending data to Facebook without permission and that the Mac installer for the Zoom software worked in a shady and potentially dangerous way.

Read more
Outfit your office with new business desktops while they’re $500 off
The Dell OptiPlex Micro Form Factor at a side angle on a white background.

Some of the best desktop computer deals at the moment come, predictably, from Dell. In particular, if you're in need of new business desktops for your office, you're in luck. Today, you can buy the Dell OptiPlex Micro Form Factor for $969 saving you $520 off the regular price of $1,489. Ideally suited for business use with some excellent specs, we're here to look in more detail at what it offers while it's down to this great price. Alternatively, just tap the buy button to get straight onto buying it.

Why you should buy the Dell OptiPlex Micro Form Factor
Dell makes some of the best desktop computers out there, and that certainly extends to its business range. The Dell OptiPlex Micro Form Factor has a 13th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, along with 16GB of memory and 512GB of SSD storage. It also comes with Windows 11 Pro preinstalled and a highly capable Wi-Fi 6E wireless LAN card to ensure you won't have to worry about connection dropouts.

Read more
Best monitor deals: Gaming, office, curved, OLED and more
Dell UltraSharp 27 4K PremierColor Monitor

If you’ve recently purchased a new desktop PC, you’re going to need to get yourself a new monitor as well. Monitors are a good way to land some savings, as even the best monitors often see a discount. There’s a lot to consider when shopping for a new monitor, from resolutions to refresh rates. Screen size is also something to factor in, particularly if you’re looking for a monitor to pair with one of the best laptops. We’ve rounded up everything you need to know about how to save on a new monitor, as well as some information to help you decide which is right for you. So whether you’re looking to get a new digital window for your PC or expand your laptop’s screen real estate, these are the best monitor deals out there right now.
Dell SE2422H 24-inch monitor — $100, was $150

A simple, affordable option for getting some screen real estate onto your desk is this Dell 24-inch monitor. It’s well designed, sturdy, and compact, which makes it great for smaller desks and spaces. It comes in with Full HD resolution, a 75Hz refresh rate, and easy connectivity with an HDMI port and included HDMI cable. It also features AMD FreeSync technology, making it an affording option for gamers as well.

Read more