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Videoconferencing Best Practices Brought to You by Miss Office Manners

by Mary Isner / October 14, 2022

Now that so many people are working from home, videoconferencing has become an everyday practice for some. Many people are unaware of the additional expectations placed upon you when participating in a business videoconference. If you fall into that category, Miss Office Manners can help. In this installment, I offer advice on two videoconferencing dilemmas. Happy reading!

Eating During Videoconferences

Dear Miss Office Manners: Please tell me why people think it is acceptable to eat on Zoom. Seriously, what is the deal? I just got off a video meeting where one of the attendees was noshing away - and I am talking a double-decker club sandwich, chips, and pickle, for Pete’s sake! I have no idea what was even covered on the Zoom as I was just too distracted to focus. This is not the first time I have witnessed something like this. I am starting to wonder if I am in the minority here by being utterly horrified by the Zoom chow down. What do you think?

 -- Yuck!

Dear Yuck:

Oh my…that sounds like quite the sight. I completely agree with you. Eating a full-out meal during a video meeting is definitely a no no, unless it’s understood that it is going to be a brown bag meeting. I understand that a nibble here and there might be necessary on days when you have hours of back-to-back meetings, but use good judgment, people! Eat something simple and not messy, pick a time when you are not talking or presenting, and turn off the camera if at all possible. Bon appetit (just not on your next Zoom)!

Camera On or Camera Off?

Dear Miss Office Manners: Do I have a story for you! Last week, I was on a Teams meeting and only about half of the people had their camera turned on. Most of the supervisors had their cameras turned on, so I’m not sure how they felt about so many employees being off camera. Here’s where it gets interesting: at four different times, people who did not have their cameras on were called on and wait for it…they were not there! Now, I am not talking an “oops, I couldn’t find my mute button” situation. These people were signed on to the meeting but were clearly somewhere else doing something else! So, what are your thoughts on cameras on vs. cameras off? It seems a majority (or at least half) of people have their cameras turned off during videoconferences.

 -- Lights, Camera, Action    

Dear Lights, Camera, Action:

I sometimes wonder the same about people who always have their cameras turned off. It seems to me that face-to-face interaction is ideal in most cases. However, the full answer is a bit more subjective. You need to read the room a little. For instance, when I am on video calls with one of our clients, I never have my camera on. The culture of that organization is to conduct meetings with cameras off. I’ll never forget the first time my coworkers and I met with this client, not knowing the “cameras off” culture. We showed up with our cameras on, dressed in “smart casual” attire. The client then felt obligated to turn her camera on - she was wearing a tank top and looked like she had just finished working out! Since that day, we have always kept our cameras off when meeting with anyone in their organization. Turning our cameras on would be disrespectful of their organizational culture. A good rule of thumb is to be prepared to turn your camera on (ditch the hair curlers!) but follow the lead of whoever is leading the meeting. You don’t want to make any clients or your superiors uncomfortable. Here’s to always being camera ready!

I hope you have found this week’s tips both helpful and enjoyable. Here’s wishing everyone a productive and healthy work environment, on or off camera! Be safe and well, everyone!

Tags: Office Manners

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Mary Isner

Mary Isner

Mary has a master’s degree in public administration and has worked as a facility planning analyst for Fentress since 2003. In her free time, she enjoys baking, decorating, and spending time with her family.