Even before the pandemic began, virtual events and meetings were on the rise. But the last year has brought them to an entirely new level:
- Zoom had over 300 million meeting participants per day in 2020
- Google Meet had over 100 million daily meeting participants in 2020
- Microsoft Teams had 75 million active daily users in 2020
- Cisco WebEx currently has over 300 million users
Source: The State of Video Conferencing in 2020
And while the jokes about wearing slippers and pajamas during the early days of WFH continue to get tossed around, social norms, rules, etiquette, and manners still matter in virtual events – though it’s slightly different for both event planners and attendees.
With online meetings and events scheduled for the foreseeable future, here are etiquette tips for both planners and attendees to keep in mind.
Virtual Event Attendees
Let’s face it, if you work in a traditional office, you’re familiar with the basic rules of group meeting behavior:
- Look professional
- Don’t show up late
- Eat meals or snacks before or after the meeting
- Don’t interrupt others
- Stay on task and on time with the agenda
Those basics continue to apply when attending virtual meetings and events, with these additions – especially if your webcam is on:
- Use attentive body language
- Sit up straight – or better yet – stand up to increase the energy
- Check your background and eliminate anything that others don’t want to see – like piles of clothes, unmade beds, or other distractions – or use a virtual background to provide coverage
- Make eye contact with the webcam and don’t let your eyes wander too much
- Be at the ready to mute your microphone unless you’re speaking and/or interacting with fellow attendees
- If available, and as appropriate, use chat features, Q&A, or raised hand options to contribute to the conversation and minimize interruptions
It’s this last point – participating and contributing – that deserves special attention when it comes to virtual event etiquette.
For many introverts, it’s easier to hide behind a digital screen and avoid interacting and joining in conversations. As Diana Shi writes for Fast Company, “speaking up in a [virtual] meeting can be hard for some introverts. It may prompt others to object or—sometimes worse—not respond at all, which can provoke doubts and insecurities.”
With a little extra attention, this is one etiquette area where planners can set the stage to help all attendees, including introverts, feel comfortable in a virtual event setting.