Digital Etiquette

March 10, 2020

Our Top 10 Digital Etiquette Tips for Online Meetings

By Michael Diettrich-Chastain


As we blast off into the “Zoomiverse” it’s important to remember some key factors that will help us be successful during our virtual connections. After hundreds of hours facilitating, coaching, running conferences and hosting virtual communities, here are our top 10 tips!

1) Show Up

When entering into a meeting or virtual event, imagine it’s just like walking into an in person meeting. All dress and style rules still apply. If the meeting is casual, keep it casual. If it’s more of a formal discussion, present as if.  Keep your dress and hygiene consistent with the formality of the meeting.  Even though we may be working more virtually, showing up as your best brings more energy into the room and makes for a better experience.

2) Space Matters

Just like in an in person meeting, how close you are to any given person makes a world of difference.  Similarly online, you want your camera to be a reasonable distance from  your face (2 feet is a good average).  In addition, try to keep it as eye level as possible. Just as in person, you wouldn’t want to be talking down or up to someone in a conversation. Watch for body language ques just as you would during an in person meeting.If they lean in, feel free to lean in a little as well. If they back away from the camera, adjust accordingly. Remember that matching someone’s energy in the meeting that you’re in still applies.

3) When in Doubt, Mute

When entering into a Zoom room, the default is mute. There is a good reason for that setting.  It can get loud quickly in a virtual room and it’s really hard to pay attention if everyone’s sound is on.  Unlike in person meetings, noises are amplified.  If you are writing, typing, playing with your dog or making some other noise, and not muted, everyone hears it.  It’s good etiquette to keep yourself muted unless you are the one talking.

One Thing at a Time

It’s easy to get distracted in a virtual space.  There are so many things begging for our attention. If you get easily distracted, turn off the  notifications on your phone and close all other  browser tabs on your computer.  When we are in a virtual space, it’s easy to notice who is focused on what’s going on and who’s doing three other things at once. Be the model for everyone on the call and bring your A game!

Yes, We Want to See You

There are so many advantages of being able to connect in a virtual space – the flexibility, the ease, the cost, the closing of distance etc.  There are some trade offs as well..  The main  trade off is that there isn’t t a replacement for in person human connection.  One way around that is to utilize the capabilities of the virtual space to the fullest.  When entering into a virtual meeting, keep your video active and on.  The only exception to this rule is if you’re going to be doing a lot of moving while on the call or need to step away for a moment.  Showing up on video brings another level of connection that audio alone does not allow.

Respect the Clock

A best practice in any meeting is keeping to a clear schedule.  The same goes for the virtual space. Sometimes it might even be helpful to have a timekeeper and someone to be in charge of leading the meeting.  This practice helps ensure that we respect each other’s time, even in the virtual world.

Chat – it’s a Thing

You may remember a time when you were school passing notes during class, or maybe for some, texting in class.   Either way, it’s a no-no.  The chat box in a zoom room can be an enormous advantage, as well as a major distraction.  Be mindful of how it’s being used and how you’re choosing to engage with it.  When in doubt, ask yourself how your comment may translate to an in person meeting.  If you’re the host of the meeting, you can also turn the chat on and off.

Hand Raising is Allowed

In an in person meeting, or training a group of people, knowing when to and when not to interrupt can be tricky.  Of course, it’s important that people’s ideas are given the chance to be voiced. When to insert them is the question.  Sometimes there is a bit of a lag in timing in a virtual room, which makes the question of “when to interrupt or insert my idea” harder to answer.  Thankfully, there is a “raise hand” function.  If you want to share, but aren’t sure when, don’t be afraid to raise your hand.

Lighten Up

Another unique piece to manage in the online space is lighting.   If possible, have a window or light behind your computer. This will   often create the best lighting.  It can be distracting if the light is very low or if someone happens to be outside and the light creates a washed out screen.  Do your best to ensure the most natural light you can.

Enjoy Yourself!

Your level of energy in any meeting is contagious.  If you show up online smiling, ready to engage and expecting that things will go well, this creates momentum for the group.  Enjoy the virtual meeting space and make the best of it.  If you bring a positive attitude and energy into the room, it will ripple through the group.


11) Be Kind

If you are new to the virtual space, welcome! There is lots to learn here and it can feel a bit awkward at first.  The most important thing you can do as you continue to learn is be patient and kind with yourself.  You’ll figure it out soon and in the meantime, smile and breathe. 🙂

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