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10 Things You Should Never Do While In A Virtual Meeting

10 Things You Should Never Do While In A Virtual Meeting

Dive into the dos and don'ts of virtual meetings with humour and grace! From avoiding pyjama pitfalls to mastering the mute button, learn how to navigate digital etiquette and keep your professional reputation intact. Say goodbye to being an office meme and hello to virtual meeting mastery!

James Mason profile image
by James Mason

Virtual Team meetings are still a big part of the everyday operations of most organisations and their employees, especially with the flexibility of remote working. Still, there are some don'ts you shouldn't do as a rule that will either get you fired or reduce any chances of praise and career growth in the future. Let's look at 10 definite things that will be frowned upon by team members on a virtual call.

1) Avoid Distraction by Mobile Devices

Our smartphones are practically our lifelines, and for some, functioning without them might as well be considered a huge task. Yet, diving into the depths of TikTok's newest viral sensation or checking for the latest likes on your Facebook update while amid a virtual meeting is completely impolite.

The choice is yours: be present and participate in the discussion, or if the meeting doesn't pique your interest, discreetly switch off your camera to continue your digital escapades. Just ensure your colleagues don't catch you in the act.

2) Do Not Apply Make-Up During the Meeting

There's a pre-work ritual that most of us follow, and slapping on some makeup falls squarely within that sacred prep time. Opting to dab on your foundation or perfect your winged eyeliner in the middle of a team meeting (thanks to a tardy start to your day) might as well be broadcasting a giant "I couldn't care less" signal about the meeting's agenda.

You'll come off more as someone tuning out than tuning in, regardless of your stellar multitasking skills. So, even if you're nailing the art of contributing to the discussion while beautifying, don't expect any accolades or gold stars for your effort

3) Maintain Professional Dress Code

Ah, the joys of remote work: no more battling through the sardine-packed bus or train rides, no more early alarms for that dreaded commute. You simply roll out of bed, shuffle over to your desk, and voila, you're in the office (sort of).

The good old days of commuting forced us into a routine that, lo and behold, made us look presentable. Now, the temptation to lounge in PJs all day is real. And regular showers? Well, they've become optional in the flexible schedule of home office life. But here's the thing: showing up to a video call looking like you've been marooned on a desert island isn't going to win you any professionalism points.

No matter how top-notch your work is, turning up on screen in last night's sleepwear casts a shadow of doubt on your professionalism. So, let's make a pact to at least brush our hair and change into fresh loungewear before hitting that "Join Meeting" button, shall we?

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4) Control Your Facial Expressions

They say the camera is a truth-teller, always capturing our unguarded moments, especially during virtual meetings. So, if a comment during the meeting has you on the verge of a full-on cringe or sends your blood pressure skyrocketing, remember to master your poker face.

Throwing a tantrum or serving up an array of dramatic expressions won't exactly endear you to your colleagues. This is particularly true when your boss notices you rolling your eyes into the next dimension every time a task is assigned or a proposal sounds more fantasy than reality. Keep the theatrics for off-camera; on-screen, aim for Oscar-worthy composure.

5) Refrain from Eating During the Meeting

Chowing down during a video call is a big no-no, and honestly, it shouldn’t be too hard to sneak a snack off-camera, even if you have enough provisions at your desk to survive an apocalypse.

Engaging in a virtual feast of epic proportions, like demolishing a giant burger or gnawing on a chicken leg for the world to see, is frowned upon. Imagine the scene: a critical issue is being hashed out, and there you are, tackling a meal fit for a king. It screams, "I'm here for the food, not the conversation," with every bite you take clearly showing your priorities lie with satisfying your hunger rather than contributing to the discussion.

6) Avoid Falling Asleep

It's an open secret that certain meetings could easily be replaced by a well-worded email, sparing us all from the time-sink. Yet, despite the tedium or the siren call of a nap, dozing off in full view of your webcam is a professional faux pas you'll want to avoid.

Getting caught snoozing is a fast track to becoming the star of office folklore, and not in a good way. Should the sandman prove irresistible during one of these digital gatherings, at least have the foresight to turn off your camera and mute your microphone. Remember, while your silent, sleeping face might go unnoticed, your snoring is as good as a billboard announcing your slumber.

7) Ensure a Distraction-Free Background

For those who cherish their partner's company during work hours, a gentle nudge for them to vacate the camera frame or engage in silent activities might be in order. After all, your colleagues probably don't appreciate an impromptu cameo from someone in the background, especially if their contribution to the meeting includes distracting noises or visual antics.

While employing the blur feature on your background is a quick fix, ensuring your partner's activities are neither seen nor heard might also involve suggesting they find their own work-related distractions.

8) Stay on Topic

Given that some meetings are brief affairs, lasting merely thirty minutes, maximizing productivity during this window is key. A bit of small talk, such as inquiring about someone's well-being or weekend activities, is acceptable but let's face it, most participants are eyeing the finish line rather than engaging in chit-chat.

Veering off course to showcase your meticulously assembled train set—perhaps a testament to the silent dinners with your partner—might not be the crowd-pleaser you imagine.

Such detours can derail the meeting's focus, potentially encroaching on the time allocated for other meetings, much to everyone's dismay. Save the demonstration of your trainset masterpiece to a local anoraks club.

9) Avoid Joining from Inappropriate Locations

Resist the urge to play the martyr by dialling into a meeting while on vacation. The sight of you basking on a pool float, cocktail in hand and not a shirt in sight, won't win any fans back at the office.

Vacations are meant for relaxation, not for inducing envy or guilt among your team members stuck handling your tasks. Rest assured, your workload is in capable hands, but don't be surprised if your inbox resembles a mountainous landscape upon your return.

10) Minimize Interruptions from Children

We get it, securing childcare can be akin to navigating a minefield – totally understood. However, it's prudent to ensure your adorable offspring are under someone else's watchful eye before you log into a meeting.

The last thing your colleagues want is the soundtrack of your child's latest opera or an appearance of toddler vomit on your shirt. Unless, of course, you're aiming to provide entertainment for those on the call who might not be your biggest fans.


And there you have it, – your unofficial guide to not becoming the office meme in the era of virtual meetings. Remember, the goal is to keep your career on a professional track, looking more like a majestic eagle soaring upwards and less like a confused pigeon flying into a window. Whether it’s resisting the siren call of your bed's comforter during a Zoom call, or not treating the video feed like your personal mukbang channel, the key is balance. So, before you next log on, take a moment to ponder: Am I about to commit a virtual disaster that will haunt me in the annual company highlights reel?

Let's aim to make our virtual presence as polished as our pre-pandemic, office-bound selves – or at the very least, not become the reason our coworkers wish and pray for the return of in-person meetings. After all, we're all exploring this brave new world of remote work together – one un-muted microphone at a time. Here's to making it through the next meeting without any unexpected guest appearances, be they human, feline, or the ever-dreaded poor Wi-Fi connection. Stay sharp, stay professional, and maybe, just maybe, keep your trousers on.

James Mason profile image
by James Mason

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