Online Video Meeting Etiquette: What do you need to know to ensure a good virtual meeting experience

I am reading a lot of articles lately from people giving tips on etiquette for online meetings for both participants and hosts. This has all come about because of Covid-19 making it so more than ever people have been working from home. Most of these people will not be going back into the office unless it is part time.

There appears to be a need for people to understand that meeting from home is a little different than meeting in the office. Even though it is a little different most of the same rules still apply.

I will give you a little background on me. I have been working globally with remote teams for 20 years. We didn’t have video conferencing way back then and some how we still managed with plain old conference calls. Also, the tips probably need to be separated a little for different types of conference calls just like different types of meetings.

People are using online video conferencing tools for a vast variety of meetings, training sessions, and calls. The etiquette is probably the same for each type but there are some other needs that can be met to ensure a good experience.

Be Prepared

Materials - Just like with any other type of meeting be prepared. Have your slide show ready and either uploaded into the conferencing tool or open on your desk top ready to go. Do not go rummaging through folders on your computer to find things you might need for the call.

Be familiar with the conferencing tool – whether you are using Zoom, Microsoft Teams or any other conferencing tool, understand how the tool works prior to the call. You want to know how to let people in from a waiting room. How to share your screen. How to mute/unmute people as well as any other functionality that you may need to use. I have been on many video conferences where the host doesn’t know how to use the tool at all, it doesn’t go well.


Ensure you are in a private quiet place where no one will be listening in from the side or potentially disturbing you. I know, sometimes the kids come in or the dog starts barking and people are very understanding about those things.

   - Don’t host meetings driving or from a place like Starbucks unless you absolutely have to

   - Only share the meeting invitation with people that should be in the meeting and use functionality like     a password and a waiting room to let people in.

Use Video

For meetings with clients or training events I typically use video. For internal meetings with my own teams, I do not. Some people will be telling you to always use video, its nice to be able to see what people look like and put a name and voice to a face. I feel video is optional for participants but for the host it is pretty much mandatory unless you are not in a good location.


At home ensure your background is business video friendly. What the heck do you mean? I mean have wall behind you or some sort of nice set up staged. Do not use a location where people are walking and things are happening, and above all do not use a background of your bedroom with clothes on the floor or some other location with lots of “background noise.

Virtual background – You can always use a virtual background which is just a picture that appears to be behind you through out the video conference. You can set one up with your company logo or essentially anything. I don’t do this often, but I like it when I see other people doing it.


Use headphones with a microphone or some sort of speaker/microphone. Do not use just the computer speaker and microphone you will sound like you are in a trach can.

I have both a Jabra conference speaker and a Jabra head set with a microphone that I use depending on how quiet the area I am in is.


Utilize a cohost or producer if you are the host to help you manage the conference system and monitor the chat. Its difficult to be presenting and managing the conference room and chat when giving a presentation.


Speak clearly with some pauses to ensure you can be followed easily by the audience. IF it is a meeting ensure you do introductions and give people a chance to speak. I like to ask people questions that are on the call or ask their opinion on something to help keep people engaged. This also let’s the meeting attendees know you value you their thoughts and that is why they are there.

Be clear and concise as people will not be looking across a table at you.

Avoid Multi-tasking

It is simply inconsiderate to be multi-tasking during an actual meeting. It is unlikely you would do this during an in-person meeting, don’t do it in a virtual meeting as well.

NOTE: Make eye contact is one I keep seeing everywhere. It means look at your camera to give the illusion of eye contact. Listen do not get offended if people are looking at your presentation and not the camera. Also do not be offended if the host is looking at their presentation and not the camera. I would advise looking at the camera when talking directly to people but also if you are presenting, we want people focused on the content, whether it be a presentation, training or simply an update. 




Get Confirmation

One thing I often say to people I work with and to people that work for me, is that you either 100% know something or you need to confirm. We do a lot of development work.  Over the years I have learned that whether you are implementing a packaged software solution or developing a custom solution, the order you need to think is People > Process > Technology. Technology shouldn’t be used to define your process or attempt to hide the lack of one. And no matter how good your process is, if people don’t follow it then it doesn’t matter.

When talking to a client about laying out a project I like to discuss the process with the people that actually do the work.

Years ago, I worked for IBM and I was working with the Department of Defense in various capacities depending on which agency or branch of the military. I had a project where I was helping sort out multiple potential software solutions and trying to help streamline some processes for onboarding people for a very specific command.  People were coming from every branch of the military, as well as from other allied forces. One problem we had was that most paperwork didn’t start until individuals were on base. This means we were looking at three weeks potentially to get new people the access they need to do their jobs in positions where many of them would only be for six months to a year. As you can imagine that makes the three-week lag time to start the work crucial.

As I was ironing out the onboarding work, I had to discuss with a Colonel a detailed process for how some paperwork was handled. He covered with me how he thought the process was defined, which was written in some process documentation from 5 years previous. I explained to him that I didn’t think this was the process I followed when I recently came onboard approximately a month earlier. I then asked if I could talk to his team about how they actually handle the process and not deal with just what was written down from years earlier.

The Colonel didn’t like that much. At first, he got irritated with me and firmly stated that “this is the process, and this is how it works”. So, then I gently asked him if the process written down was what he followed when he came onboard in the past year. He thought about that for a moment and decided it wasn’t. Then he called in the person that handles the process.

When we got to discuss this with the individual that actually handles the work, we learned that the process changed and somehow the Colonel had found old documentation. We made sure as we were building out the solution to take the actual process into account that was used.

Afterwards, the colonel asked me “How did you know I was wrong?” I explained to him I didn’t know if he was wrong. I just find it best to confirm with the people that do the job, how the job is done.

If not 100% sure on something, go and confirm that you have it right.


OutCons Names Top 25 Human Resources Vendor of the Year - 2021

With a clear focus on delivering innovative HR Technology and the best customer service in the human resources space. OutCons announces that it has been named a top 25 Human Resources Vendor of the Year by OnConferences for 2021.

We are delighted to announce for the Second Year in a row that OutCons has been named a top 25 Human Resources Vendor of the Year. A huge thank you to our employees and clients to help us make this happen again!

To see the full list of winners and find out more about OnConferences Awards2021 Award Announcements | OnConferences

Supporting Quotes

Sean Tomarelli Founder and CEO at OnConferences  "The OnCon Icon Awards recognize the top professionals and vendors in the entire world in the categories of marketing, human resources, information security and legal. Finalists are voted on by peers to determine the winners. Company winners represent the best vendors as determined by the end user."

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Empathy – Navigating the pandemic

It is a word you hear in business often now, and probably something people really need to also incorporate into their personal lives now more than ever.  What does empathy mean?  Well, according to the Oxford dictionary, the definition of empathy is - the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

If there is one thing this pandemic has really brought to mind for me is that a lot of people really cannot get past their own situation.  There is a lot of anger between people based on social distancing and closing businesses to keep people safe and the opposite camp that keeps pushing herd immunity and opening the economy back up.

What might be the biggest driver of human emotion and decision making is fear.  If you want to understand why people are pushing so hard to “stay inside” or “open up the economy,” both standpoints are driven by fear.  What we all need to understand is that people have concerns and are afraid.

Close it down – Stay at home

Those that are looking to keep things shut down have the fear of losing loved ones or literally just the fear of people dying in general. You can count on the fact that they do not want to get sick themselves nor do they want to see others get sick and die. This fear is trumping their desire to see businesses open and people working. What you may or may not know, some of these people may have already lost loved ones or someone close to them from the COVID-19 virus.

Open it up – Get the economy going

Those people looking to open up the economy and get things rolling have the fear that there will be a depression and that they will be poor.  Some of these people have lost their jobs or have taken pay cuts already. They are already seeing the economic impact of the pandemic, and they do not like it.

Now you have read this far and you are thinking “duh, Mike, no shit…” but what is happening is these people are all angry at one another and most of them may not even know that their decision of what the correct thing to do is based solely on their own personal perspective.  People who have lost a job, suffered a pay cut or fear losing their job, immediately went to “open up the economy.”  People who view themselves or loved ones as susceptible to the virus immediately went to “close everything down.”  It is simply human nature.

Whichever perspective you have here, you most likely think you are correct, and the other standpoint is incorrect.  My question here is “do you have more compassion and empathy towards whatever the opposing view is?”  People have legitimate concerns and fears right now and only through understanding and focusing on how to move forward will we get through this.


Covid-19 the Change Agent

With the advent of Covid-19, we have an influx of Stay at Home orders across the United States, Italy, Bulgaria, France, Spain, China, and many other countries in attempts to slow the spread of the virus. Whether you feel this was necessary or not doesn’t really matter, it is the current situation and what we are dealing with.

With so many people being told to stay at home and not gather in groups the Covid-19 virus is causing a lot of changes to erupt in the way people do things.  The good news is humans as a whole have been extremely adept at adapting to change. This is one of those events in our history we are adapting to rapidly.

Trial by Fire

Right now many children across the United States are currently either being home schooled by their parents with some direction coming from schools, or actively participating in online learning with schools and teachers who haven’t had formal learning on how to switch from classroom to virtual. 
Also important to note, employees at supermarkets, pharmacies, and some other retail stores are now front line people in the face of the pandemic. If you go to the store like I do, more and more people are going through the self-checkout lines. Even deliveries are changing slightly, by using prepay, and by simply leaving the items or food delivered at the door.

Office employees who were never forced to work remotely are now using virtual conferencing systems, and we are seeing it is not the easiest transition for those being thrown into it out of necessity. I have many friends from my world of remote employees giggling at their friends who are struggling, but have no fear, they will adapt, and then they will never want to go back to the way it was before.

Families are having game nights using Zoom, so they can play online with family members in other communities. Friends are getting together and playing online darts from their homes, just so they can stay in touch and have fun. These things happened prior to the pandemic but have become much more commonplace in just 3 weeks in the United States. 

The New Normal

This pandemic will move us even faster towards less direct human interaction when it comes to things such as learning and retail sales. There will be a “new normal” when this is all said and done. The digital age was already upon us, but necessity has made people adapt rapidly in the past month or so to take up things they had been reluctant to do prior.

We are approaching a time when children may no longer have “snow days” if they get snowed in. Children who get mono or another long illness may be able to participate in their classwork remotely more easily. We will be quickly getting to the point where in-class learning and virtual learning are more clearly intertwined in a true blended learning experience for our children. I see this happening already on the corporate side. We will need to adjust our teacher training to prepare them to work more easily in a virtual/online environment now that they have been thrown into it out of necessity.

Retail stores and restaurants will move towards more self-checkout and ordering kiosks immediately to remove the direct contact. More companies will be allowing work from home than ever before, as they are seeing that people are still being productive now working remotely.

The world was already moving into the digital age and the age of automation at a rapid pace, but the onset of a pandemic will push us forward as the change agent we didn’t see coming.  The next few years will be an interesting ride as we see what the “new normal” will bring us.


Be Efficient

Being efficient at work is one of those things people talk about, but not everyone does well. They may think they are efficient, but most people are usually all over the place. For example, perhaps an individual contributor that thinks they must do whatever task comes their way immediately, so prior tasks will wait. Perhaps a manager that thinks that if they don’t do something themselves, it won’t be done properly. People tend to start over-complicating things just because they are smart and they can “see how complicated I made this, that means I am SUPER smart.” None of those things equal efficiency.

Be efficient

I cut my corporate teeth with a company called Grainger Industrial Supply. My initial manager was Steve Rodrigues. I had many great managers while I worked at Grainger, by the way, and Steve was the first. He gave me a chance to put away trailers and to do some customer service work, at a point in my life when it seemed like almost no one wanted to hire me.

Steve is one of the most efficient people I have ever met, and he works at one of the most efficient supply chain companies I have ever seen. Steve and other members of the team at Grainger really taught me how to be efficient – from how you put away a trailer, to how you stage orders for customers, right down to how many steps it takes. Be efficient, save time, and make things easier for the long run.

Steve would take a walking wheel to figure out how to make picking items in the warehouse more efficient. Steve not only looked to be efficient, but he would also explain to me why he did the things he did. Five fewer steps to get a top-selling item meant saved time and increased efficiency. Seems like nothing to the uneducated in efficiency, but makes a huge difference over time. Other team members taught me how to pack items properly for shipping, and how to put away a trailer the fastest way possible.

Save time

One of the keys here is that things must be set up properly. That is, take the time at the beginning of the process to lay things out in a way that will make them more efficient as you move forward. Time spent up front usually means time saved as you move forward, as in the case of using a walking wheel to determine the best places to store popular items in a warehouse.

I have taken these lessons and plugged them into most of the jobs I have had. As an SAP Trainer, I asked myself what do these people really need to know, and how can I make this training session better so they can do their jobs?

As a functional consultant for Grainger, my experience doing various jobs became a huge factor in understanding exactly what people did. It also helped me properly configure systems for them. Even as a project/program manager, I realize how much this focus on efficiency has transferred to things I do. If there is an issue in a software development project, for instance, we check the simplest possible issues first and work towards the hardest to resolve –  NOT the reverse, which seems to be how most people want to approach a similar challenge.

Concluding Thoughts

Simple solutions to complicated ones – NOT complicated to simple. You often find that the issue was something simple to resolve. 

Invest the time up front to plan things out properly and make the process efficient, and the end results will be closer to what you want. Be Efficient!


OutCons Named Top 25 HR Vendor of the Year

With a relentless focus on delivering innovative HR Technology and out of this world customer service in the human resources space, OutCons today announces that it has been named a top 25 Human Resources Vendor of the Year by OnConferences for 2020.

The award caps off OutCons fifth anniversary in a big way, and we would like to thank our clients and all our employees. The dedication, hard work and enthusiasm of OutCons’ employees brings outright joy to our clients.

To see the full list of winners and find out more about OnConferences Awards: 2020 Award Announcements | OnConferences

Supporting Quotes

Sean Tomarelli Founder and CEO at OnConferences  "OnCon Icon Award Winners are determined by peer to peer votes. This year's OnCon Icon Award Winners were determined from over 4,500 votes in total. It is a tremendous honor to be selected as an award winner, as the selection is based off of peer recognition of performance, impact, and contributions. Winners represent many of the most senior leaders from the world's top organizations. Company winners represent the best vendors as determined by the end user."

Supporting Resources

  • Learn more about OutCons services
  • Visit the OutCons booth at ATD ICE Booth 333 in Denver May 17-20, 2020
  • Connect with us on LinkedIn