Bad meeting etiquette: the 6 most annoying things people do in virtual meetings

October 12, 2018 Faith Wheller

There's one in almost every meeting. The person who arrives late to the WebEx call, interrupting the flow as they apologise for their tardiness. Or the person who constantly interrupts whoever is speaking.  If  you don't recognise these habits, maybe it's you?

These are often the transgressions made by the annoying personalities on every video call. Read on for some of the more annoying things people do in virtual meetings - and how to fix them.

Eyes drifting away from their screen.


Why is this person looking away? Usually it's down and to the left or right, so to the side of their keyboard, hmm... Expecting an emergency text? Can’t wait to get to the next level of Cookie Crush? Whatever – stop checking your phone and pay attention!

Keep people's attention by using the screen sharing feature to share slides, spreadsheets or whatever's on your screen.

Join meetings late.


There's always that person who inevitably shows up 10 minutes late (with a coffee; we know why you’re late), and then asks what they missed. They either feel entitled, or they simply don’t keep track of time. Either way, it’s annoying.

There’s an easy fix, though: set up the meeting with a reminder, longer for those who are typically tardy. And, if the meeting is a conference video call, make it a policy to lock the door five minutes after start time - you can lock Webex meetings automatically 5 minutes after starting and share recordings for those who didn't make it. 

Repeat what someone else has just said


This person repeats what someone else just said, just in his or her own words. What makes them do it? Whether they're just not paying attention or want to at least appear to have something constructive to say, it’s a major waste of time, adds nothing to the meeting, and stalls progress.

Someone, stop them!

Forgets to mute their feed, yet insists they have


Oh, the embarrassing things people say when they think their phone is on mute! Do we really need to know what you think of the new guy in accounting or that you didn’t like what you ate for lunch? Not really. We’re actually embarrassed for you.

So even if you think you've muted the phone or turned the video off, check again, for your own sake.   There's a bit red microphone symbol to help you, or the meeting host has the option to mute repeat offenders.

Interrupt the person speaking (especially if it's you)


No matter who has the floor, the interrupter finds a way to get a few words in edge-ways.

Sometimes, the interrupter ends up making the same point as the person he was interrupting. Other times, changes the topic to something off-topic. How rude!

If this keeps happening, try being just a little bit passive-aggressive by saying something like “Hold that thought” or “Can it wait?”.

Take forever to clarify a point when the point wasn’t even relevant in the first place


Why use 10 words when you can use 150? There are few things worse than a colleague who drones on about something that doesn’t even matter much. While you can’t do much about it during the meeting other than trying to redirect the conversation, you can talk to this person afterwards (if you are in a managerial position). The key is to do so directly, but tactfully and kindly and of course succinctly!

While it's hard to change people's habits, you can easily improve the productivity of your staff at meetings with the right technology. With a wide-angle camera, multiple microphones and a huge, multi-function screen, team members can wireless present, whiteboard, and conduct video and audio calls. Even team members who can’t be in the room physically can connect virtually.

With this type of technology, meetings can be better managed, more interesting and more productive!




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