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Susy Lee

- Blog post by Susy Lee

May 14, 2020

We asked, you answered: How People Really Feel About Virtual Meetings (and How to Make them as Effective as Possible)

Would you believe us if we told you that most people have dressed their top half professionally for a virtual meeting knowing that they won’t be seen below the waist? #TRUEstory

If you’ve transitioned into working remotely, then you likely have taken part in virtual meetings hosted on platforms like Zoom. There is always a major learning curve when it comes to transitioning into a remote work environment and adapting to new technologies in place of in-person meetings.

As we continue to navigate and adapt to the new “normal,” many of us have had questions as to what this really looks like. We asked you for your feedback on your recent virtual meetings to gain insight into what we may consider the new norm in terms of professional etiquette.

Thank you to everyone who participated in our survey – we gained some interesting insights from your input.

Dressing professionally (or are we?)

Of our 50 survey respondents, one half reported that they put the same amount of effort into their professional attire for virtual meetings as they would for in-person. The other half said they put in less effort, with some from this group reporting their effort being minimal.

This tells us that many of us believe that dressing in casual attire is acceptable in professional virtual meetings. This leads us to our next question – what kind of casual attire is considered acceptable?

More than half of respondents say they have experienced an attendee of their virtual meeting not dressed “work appropriately”. Pyjamas, bathrobes, tank tops, hats and wigs, not to mention fitness and hunting attire, we’ve seen it all! While nobody in the meeting commented on these attire choices, people did say that they found them to be inappropriate and distracting.

If you’re one of those people in the minimal effort camp, just make sure to keep it appropriate. This is not to say you should take yourself too seriously, but working from home does not mean that standards of professionalism disappear. Casual attire is widely considered acceptable, but to an extent. If you’re attending meetings wearing a bathrobe, it will likely be distracting to others and may come off as unprofessional.

Besides, people generally tend to feel more confident when they’ve taken the time to get themselves ready as if they were leaving the house for work. It definitely helps to feel put-together, motivated, and ready to bring your best self to your meetings.

Branded backgrounds

It’s always interesting getting a peek inside the homes of our colleagues and learning more about their décor style. Many of us who don’t have designated office spaces are working in common areas in our homes. This opens the door to household disruptions, including family members or pets entering the frame or simply being limited to an inconvenient or distracting background.

This is where branded backgrounds come into play. Using a custom branded background is a great opportunity to ensure your surroundings don’t cause any distractions, while promoting your company brand and maintaining an elevated level of professionalism.

Our survey showed that while most people have noticed everyday distractions in virtual meetings while working at home, only 16% of our respondents are using branded backgrounds to step up their Zoom game. With virtual meetings becoming increasingly common, now is a great time to get ahead of the curve using this approach.

If you are looking for guidance with creating branded backgrounds, we’re happy to help.

Let’s get technical

This may seem like a given, but the technical functionality of your virtual meeting will be a deal-breaker for overall effectiveness. Ever joined a meeting and had your Wi-Fi connection boot you off or had your microphone stop working mid-way through? It can happen to anyone and is one of the key reasons that half of our survey respondents said they find virtual meetings less effective than in-person meetings.

That’s why it is essential to test your microphone and speaker, as well as ensure you have a secure Wi-Fi connection before joining a meeting. For in-person meetings, most people give themselves buffer times in case of traffic or parking delays, because…life happens. The same concept applies to virtual meetings. It’s important to give yourself buffer times in case your device isn’t working in your favour and you have to spend some time troubleshooting.

It’s also important to have an understanding of the features of the platform you are using. For instance, if you have a noise disturbance in your home, you can mute your audio as to not disturb the person speaking. The same applies to your camera.

Our last technical tip would be to ensure you have an appropriate (and identifiable) username that your meeting host will recognize. One of our survey respondents said that in one of their meetings, the host did not recognize the username of an important attendee and declined their invitation to join the call, resulting in spending an additional 10 minutes sorting out the issue.

Social connection

Now more than ever, fostering human connection with others is crucial. With many of us dealing with new stresses, connecting online is a great way to maintain a strong social connection and a sense of togetherness with others in our community.

Here at TRUEdot, we have enjoyed virtual happy hours with our team and friends from the business community, where we have introduced creative themes to spice things up, and even a game that got us up and out of our seats. We encourage you to find innovative ways to connect with others using virtual platforms. This is important to keep your company culture positive while working remotely and helps foster that social connection that we all need.

When in doubt, talk it out

Even during a time of self-isolation, we are thrilled to have seen that many businesses have continued conducting business virtually while innovating and discovering new ways to connect effectively with their clients and colleagues. Virtual platforms like Zoom have allowed us to do so, facilitating face-to-face communication in a world where many of us aren’t leaving our homes.

It’s important to reflect on how we can make conducting virtual meetings as seamless and effective as possible. We hope you found these insights helpful and wish you many more successful virtual meetings, because there’s a good chance that they are here to stay.

P.S. We wanted you to enjoy a laugh on us. Below are some of the stories shared with us by the respondents of our survey.

“My cat has walked across my keyboard and into the video frame. My cat has also started playing with my feet and surprised me while on a call.”

“Talking while having mute on! LOL! I always forget to turn it off.

“One time, I joined the wrong zoom meeting. I’d like to forget about that.”

“Someone forgot they were live and unmuted themselves while they were complaining to themselves while everyone was listening.”

“During one meeting, I closed both doors to my office but one of my dogs is able to jump up and open the door. She broke in during one of my meetings, so I had to stop and close the door again. It was a bit funny and my client appreciated my having dogs.”

“Sneezing fits”

“Cats are regular participants in our Teams meetings by walking across the keyboards of some participants etc. Kids are also regular participants and can add a light moment for the group and also result in people taking themselves less seriously in meetings.”

“My client forgot about the Zoom meeting and was still in her PJ’s and her hair was not combed. We all laughed and proceeded with the meeting.”

“Last week, my boss had someone’s name wrong and addressed them with an improper name.”

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