Zoom Etiquette: How to Stop Staring at Yourself And Other Tips

Work meetings, happy hours and other “face-to-face” social gatherings come with a whole new set of dos and don’ts now that video conferencing tools like Zoom have essentially replaced human interaction. We’re all still in the process of figuring out some aspects of proper Zoom etiquette — like, do you need to put on pants? Can you end a bad date just by hitting Leave Meeting, with no further explanation? Must you introduce pets to your work colleagues so they can put them on Instagram? (That last one is an unequivocal yes.) 

Even as we’re all adjusting to the platform, there are still some hard-and-fast rules to keep you from being a rude Zoomer.  

Mute

As is the case with a conference call, if you’re in a work meeting, put yourself on Mute until you’re ready to talk. This keeps calls from having chaotic overtalk, and it prevents your colleagues from having to hear your chewing, sneezing, sniffling and apartment background noises. Occasional in-meeting visits from your dog/baby/succulent are cute. Interruptions from your barking dog/crying baby/silent succulent are less cute. 

There are as many ways of muting as there are video-conferencing tools, so if you’re using something other than what you’re used to for your video chats, be sure you know how to mute and un-mute on the platform before getting on the call.

Raise Your Hand When You Want To Speak

In general, you should be courteous and raise your hand in a work meeting. But it’s easier to use body cues to determine when someone’s done speaking when you’re convening IRL — which makes it all the more imperative that you raise your hand and patiently wait your turn on Zoom.

For social hangs, you might be able to get away with more crosstalk depending on your friend group dynamic; I’ve personally found interruptions to feel more natural during happy hours, since my friends and I were always yelling over one another at a bar pre-COVID. But if you’re not sure, work meeting rules hold here: Raise your hand and wait your turn.  

Don’t Stare At Yourself

Thanks to Zoom’s self-camera window, it’s tempting to watch your own little video box instead of paying attention to the speaker. But much like staring at your own reflection in a mirror during a real-life conversation, it’s rude to watch yourself play with your hair on a Zoom call. To avoid this, try using Speaker View instead of Gallery View. This will put whoever is talking front-and-center, thereby making it less tempting to look at yourself. You can even minimize the little strip showing the rest of the group so you can’t see your own screen.

Wash Your Dishes

… and make your bed/clear off the couch/tidy up your workspace. It’s easy to let things go when you’re working from home, but your fellow Zoom hang members don’t need to see your mess during meetings.

Wear Clothes

Or, at the very least, put on a shirt. You don’t need to dress to the nines for virtual hangs, but it’s nice to put in a small effort, plus it’ll help make you feel a little more normal.

Turn Off Your Screen If You Leave The Room

If you have to get up to use the bathroom or appease a crying child, turn off your screen. No one needs to see an empty room, or, worse, catch a glimpse of someone else in your household who may not realize a meeting is in progress.

Say Goodbye

Please do not ghost your group hangs. Tell everyone you’re signing off before you do it, or at least wait for the host to declare the meeting/happy hour is over.