• Bad habits during virtual meetings can kill your image
  • Spot your bad habits and drop ‘em to stay professional
  • Be more self-aware and you’ll be seen more positively 
There’s always that one pain-in-the-ass coworker that just can’t seem to get their shit together when it comes to virtual meetings.

You know this person.

He or she is always late to every single meeting. And, we’re talking really late, like beyond the 5-minute grace period late at the start of their stupid meeting.

Then, during the meeting, they always fuck up in some way like forgetting to mute themselves (or unmute) or not having a clue as to how to share their docs like it was their very first time using video conferencing.

And, it’s not a one-time thing. It happens. Every. Single. Meeting.

Everybody, including you, sees these kinds of people as inept idiots.

There are a lot of virtual meeting habits that can make anyone look bad, including you. And if they’re not kept in check, they can do some serious damage to your personal brand at work.

If the bad habits extend further, you’ll just be killing your chances of promotion.

Here are just a few of the biggies that you should check yourself on.

1) Joining Late To Your Own Meeting

When you login to an online video meeting late, it never bodes well for your reputation, especially when it’s YOUR friggin’ meeting.

This is because it conveys to others that you don’t respect their time. Everybody’s got a shit ton of grunt work that they need to get done and having to wait for you to show up to your own meeting is...well, bullshit.

It kinda makes us want to institute the unwritten rule from college days where if a professor didn’t show up within 15 minutes after class starts, then the class is canceled.

In the working world, when you do this, it clearly shows to others that you lack discipline, can’t stick to a schedule and that their time isn’t valuable. These are not good characteristics to be known for.

So, show up on time for your meetings. 

2) Eating With Your Camera And/Or Audio On

Whether you are video chatting with your work BFF one-on-one or part of a larger group meeting, it can be hard to resist the urge to eat during the call, especially when the meeting is during lunch.

Here’s the main issue with eating during meetings - it’s distracting as fuck.

When all you can hear is someone chewing, chomping and slurping, it’s nearly impossible to focus on what the other person is saying in the meeting.

Think about it. What kind of impression are you making when people see that during every meeting, no matter how important, you're crunching Cheetos into your mouth?

There will be times when you have to work through lunch with meetings. And, of course, you’ll get the munchies during the day too.

If that’s the case, plan ahead and eat before or after the meeting. Or at the very least, turn off your camera and mute your mic while you’re eating.

3) Not Muting/Unmuting Yourself 

This is another common courtesy thing with video calls.

If you know that you’ve got background noises (ahem, wfh with kids), make it a habit to mute yourself when you’re not talking. This will prevent distracting sounds for others.

Here’s a secret trick. Most video meeting software has a built-in function where your mic is always muted until you press and hold the spacebar to talk.

By pressing the space bar or whatever the designated “hot key” is, you’re assured that your mic is unmuted only when you’re talking.

This also prevents the all too common situation of forgetting to unmute yourself because once you get in the habit of pressing the hot key to talk, you’ll never forget to unmute.

4) Not Having Shared Docs Ready

This happens all too often. The presenter knows that they’ll be sharing and showing some documents or a presentation during the meeting and yet, just as the meeting is getting underway, they’ve got to dig and search for the doc or deck.

This wastes so much damn time. Don’t be that guy.

It's no secret that showing up to meetings unprepared isn't good for your image. It's even worse when you're the one who scheduled the meeting.

If you want to be perceived as a professional, then take a few minutes before your meeting to get in the zone, get your files opened and ready to go.

In fact, it’s a good idea to get it up on the screen at the start of the meeting so that you can get started promptly without any delays. 

5) Sharing Or Presenting Incorrectly

Dove-tailing off of the habit above, this is also related to presenting or sharing files and decks on video meetings.

What you see on your screen isn’t the same as what others see on the other end.

One big faux pas is sharing your Powerpoint deck in slide sorter or editing mode. This makes the main slide much smaller and thus, harder for others to see. Use the slideshow mode to present it in full screen for a kick-ass presentation.

If you’re showing an Excel or Word file, boost up the zoom in the lower right corner by pressing the “+” symbol or moving the marker to the right to magnify things.

And if you’re using multiple monitors, be sure to know which screen you’re sharing. Because nobody wants to see what you’ve been cyberloafing on the web on the other monitor.

And please, don’t watch porn during work and risk getting outed for it.

6) Bad Camera Angles & Poor Lighting

During video calls, take a look at yourself in the self-view window. Can you see your entire face clearly? Or, are you all washed out or darkened?

If you can’t see yourself clearly, then others can’t either.

Try turning on additional lights and/or positioning your laptop so that you can be seen clearly. Or, if the lighting is too harsh, try reflecting it off the ceiling or wall.

And if you’ve got windows nearby that are producing a lot of sun glare, close the shades or consider repositioning and optimizing your workspace.

Also, be sure that the camera angle is correct. You don’t want your face to be cut off or have a view of your crotch on a pantless WFH day.

This isn’t about making yourself look like a glamour model. It’s all about just having a good angle and a clear view of your face.

It’s just like checking yourself in the mirror before heading out. You gotta do the same thing with video calls or else you might be like this guy in the video below.

VIDEO: I’m not a cat Zoom filter
YOUTUBE: Guardian News
LENGTH: 00:48
Summary points:
  • Always pre-check your video settings BEFORE joining the meeting
  • Fun filters should be mandatory at every online court proceeding
  • “Objection, your honor. He is a cat.”

7) Dressing Like Shit

Just because you’re not meeting in person doesn’t mean that you can let yourself dress like it’s a Sunday morning hangover.

When you’re working from home, dress codes still matter people!

Now, this doesn’t mean that you need to get dressed to the nines. Just follow the dress code of your peers at work. If you stay in line with that, you should be fine.

If you’re not sure, err on the side of being more conservative or dress to the same level as your manager or your manager’s boss. This way, you’ll be at the right level.

8) Constantly Moving Your Mouse 

There are certain people that just can’t seem to sit still. They’re fidgety while sitting. Or when they’re presenting in front of a group, they can’t stand in one spot and are constantly moving their hands and arms.

These are the same folks that can’t keep the damn mouse pointer in one spot on the screen. They feel compelled to keep it moving around the monitor because they need something happening all the time.

This is the same kind of distraction as the eating and drinking one, only this version is a visual distraction.

When you’re not using the mouse as a pointer during your sharing session, just let it sit there and disappear. Don’t worry, it’ll come back. 😉

You can also use keyboard shortcuts keys too.

9) Talking Over Others

It happens to the best of us, you're in a meeting and someone is talking over you. Not only that, but they continue to talk over everyone else as well. A lot of times, it’s the office asshole.

This has happened to all of us. And, it fucking pisses you off big time.

Don’t fall into the trap of wanting to talk over someone else while they’re talking. It can be very hard to resist especially when you want to get your point across. You need to let others speak and complete their thoughts before taking your turn.

However, there are times when talking over others isn’t intentional.

When you’re part of in-person meetings, it’s much easier to see, hear and feel the natural conversational rhythms among the group. People don’t interrupt each other as often.

However, with the lag that is often a part of virtual video meetings, unintentional simultaneous comments happen a lot. It’s just an unfortunate and often infuriating side effect of video calls.

When this happens, it can get frustrating as both sides stop to let the other person speak but then both start talking at the same time again. When this happens, don’t let it get on your nerves. You just gotta laugh and keep a positive attitude.

Banish Bad Virtual Meeting Habits & Boost Your Cred

Virtual meetings are now a common thing in remote work office life. They’re a necessary evil, but they're also the place where bad habits die hard.

Don't let your shitty virtual meeting habits affect your credibility.

You might think that your little virtual meeting habits aren’t a big deal. But, they are.

All of those little things add up to make an impression on everyone else. And if they’re all annoying and/or discourteous habits, you’re just making yourself look like that inept idiot that doesn’t have a clue.

But you know better.

Take the time to be more self-aware and professional during virtual meetings and you’ll be building yourself up to bigger and better things - for real.

Feel Better,

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