Discussion Thread

Video Conferencing Etiquette

  • 1.  Video Conferencing Etiquette

    Posted 08-16-2020 09:08 PM

    Now that many meetings and professionals have moved towards an online presence I wanted to start a discussion on video conferencing etiquette (if such a thing exists).

    If you are on a group video call and you're the only one with the camera off do you have to turn it on?
    More importantly, if everyone has their camera off and you started with your camera on, are you allowed to turn your camera off?

    Such an uncertain time and video conference etiquette has only made me more uncertain.

    What are everyone else's thoughts?

    Daniel Bressler EIT, A.M.ASCE
    Junior Engineer
    Brooklyn NY

  • 2.  RE: Video Conferencing Etiquette

    Posted 08-17-2020 09:58 AM
    Hi Daniel,

    Great question!

    I think that if everyone has their camera on, it is polite to also turn your camera on; however, there additional things to consider before flipping the switch! For example, I am a private consultant and recently had a phone call scheduled with a client. I wasn't expecting to have our videos on, but when I got in the meeting, my client had her camera on. She was working from her office and nicely dressed. I was working from home and had jumped on the call with messy hair and wearing workout clothes. Plus my breakfast dishes were still sitting on my desk. I decided not to turn my video on because I didn't want to look unprofessional while talking to an important client.

    I have heard of people wearing pj's for a virtual department meeting, and I have been on calls with people wearing t-shirts. Personally, I think, if you are going to have your camera on, dress appropriately. If you wouldn't wear it to the office, don't wear it for a video conference. (with the exception of maybe wearing pajama pants or yoga pants in the case where only your top half is on-screen)

    I also think it is important that people behave like you would in an in-person meeting. For example, if I am in an in-person meeting, I keep my phone out of sight so that I can give my focus to the people in the room. If you are on video, people can see if you are staring at a different screen, working on something else. If you are on a video call where someone else is speaking or presenting, you should give them your focus. I suggest putting the window with the meeting on the same screen as your camera For example, I keep my meetings on my laptop, instead of one of the extra monitors I have hooked up. That way, I am facing the camera when I am looking at the speaker. If you need to open up files to look at something you are actively discussing in the meeting, then that is a little different - and the other participants would likely know what you are doing.

    On another note, if you are setting up a conference call invite, I think it would be polite to mention whether or not you expect to use videos in the meeting. It's nice to have a head's up if you are attending the meeting. That way, you can make yourself and your workspace presentable before you join the call!

    Kelly Farabee P.E., P.T.O.E., M.ASCE
    President, ASCE Savannah Branch
    Savannah, GA

  • 3.  RE: Video Conferencing Etiquette

    Posted 08-17-2020 12:45 PM

    I really like the idea of indicating in the invite whether or not video will be used!

    We've had some meetings set up by a client where we thought it was clear that video would be used, but another consultant just called in with his phone. The entire meeting was a bit of a mess because he couldn't see anything the presenter was trying to show the team.
    On the flip side, while working from home I've rushed around to dress appropriately for a last minute meeting only to hop and and find that we weren't using the cameras. Would have been nice to have clear direction beforehand, for sure.

    Heidi Wallace EI,P.E.,M.ASCE
    Tulsa OK

  • 4.  RE: Video Conferencing Etiquette

    Posted 08-26-2020 04:34 PM
    In our group, we only turn video on during social events. Other than that we use voice only to save network bandwidth :).

    Tung Nguyen, PhD
    Jacobs, Water Resources Engineer
    Sacramento, CA