Etiquette guidelines for video calls

Etiquette for video calls

The use of video conferencing software as a method of communication is going to be much more commonplace so we thought we’d outline our top tips for etiquette on video calls.

Despite the fact that the equipment has been around for many years, the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise in the number of people working from home, has made us all realise how easy it is to use and how much time and money can be saved by not travelling to face to face meetings.

Thankfully buffering images due to slow internet speeds and poor connectivity are now problems of the past, and most of us can now participate with ease using a laptop or mobile device such as a phone or tablet.

Whilst video is a great way to connect, over the last few months we have witnessed some real howlers when it comes to social etiquette whilst participating in video calls.

As marketers we have a duty to ensure company reputations are well managed. After all, marketing is also about people, so if your people are not representing your brand appropriately, then there is a risk to your business as well as to the personal brand of the people taking part.

Here are the key areas we believe should be considered as part of a guide that you may wish to issue to employees who might be using video to speak to colleagues, customers, suppliers and potential customers.

  • Dresscode
  • Backgrounds
  • Position of device and lighting
  • Dive-bombers
  • Body Language

None of the above are rocket science, but we have been astonished by some of the images we have viewed both as participants and within the videos we have seen shared on social media. Particularly LinkedIn, which is supposed to be a professional business networking platform!

It was a novelty and part of fun at the beginning of lock-down to see colleagues homes and what they might dress like out of the workplace. It was also an ice breaker to introduce the family pet or your children, but as video conferencing is likely to become more of the norm, now might be the time to consider the future impact on your company image and reputation by issuing your guidelines and policies for using video conferencing for business.

Dresscode for video calls

The easiest rule of thumb we think is to consider whether you’d wear the outfit, particularly the top, for the workplace or office? Bear in mind that your viewer is only really going to see your shoulders.

You’d be surprised the number of people we’ve thought were naked because they were wearing a strappy or strapless top that can’t be seen.

On a video call the audience do not get the opportunity to see all of you. So it’s probably best to wear something that covers your shoulders. Also be wary of logo’s and statements on garments that may offend other participants or not look professional.

Our recommendation is to wear a plain collared or round neck garment.

Backgrounds for video calls

When you set up for your call make sure you set up a few minutes early so that you can see what the viewer will see in the background to double check it is appropriate and not distracting.

Things to consider are mirrors, open doorways, and distractions such as noise and other people walking by or using the kitchen behind you. Ornaments, bookshelves, posters and photos might be ok, but be conscious of who is going to be on your call and what image you are portraying.

Most of the software used for video will enable you to choose a photo background. We have had an increasing number of clients ask us to create background images that incorporate their company logo.

There has to be balance between being professional and being personable.

Position of device and lighting for video calls

How many times have you been on a video call and been staring up someone’s nose because their device is so low on their desk, or worse on a coffee table or on their lap and all you see first is their crotch!

This is another reason to set up early. Our recommendation is to ensure your camera is more or less at eye level so that you are not peering down into the camera. A desk or table with a comfortable chair and a plain wall behind you are the best set-ups for a business call. Once set up, try not to move it!

Lighting should also be considered. Be wary of sunlight suddenly placing you in a shadow because of a window behind you or the glare of light bulbs or spotlights above your head. Our recommendation is to draw blinds or curtains before a call or make sure the window is in front of you.

Also, try to avoid moving from room to room during your call even if you are only a listener! We recently had the pleasure of a face full of cleavage when one participant decided to lift their device and hold it close to their chest as they moved from their desk to another position on their settee!


Probably the most contentious area, and many may disagree with us, but to us it’s all about professionalism.

So, if you are about to go on a call which is important in terms your career or you need to make the right first impression with clients it might be an idea to do everything possible to avoid ‘dive-bombers.’

It might be ok for some people to meet the cat, dog and have one of your children enter ‘screen right’ for a cuddle, but before each call take a moment to consider whether this might have a detrimental impact.

Our best one so far, is a loud cry in the background…..”Daddy I need a pooh!”

Body Language

This one is the most important aspect. Be conscious at all times of what your body position and facial expressions are saying. It is the most difficult thing to do on a video call.

Make sure you are comfortable and have things like pad paper or other devices that you need nearby so that you can remain looking at the participants on your call whilst taking notes. Also try not to look away or get distracted when others are talking.

Another aspect to bear in mind is that whilst you may be viewing tiny thumbnail views of each participant on a phone or tablet, others may be seeing much bigger images on laptops or on 50″ television screens in rooms specially set up for video conferencing.

The fact they are seeing a bigger picture of you could mean your every facial expression is much more exaggerated the bigger the screen your face is being viewed upon!

Also, be aware when you gesticulate using your hands as often this will obscure your face.  All viewers are likely to see is your fingers blurring across the screen. This also applies if you have a touch screen and need to touch it to adjust your settings. Be wary of where your camera is as the last thing viewers want to see is your pudgy finger obscuring the camera image!

We hope these tips help you enjoy a lot more success from participating in future video conferencing calls.

If you would like further information about how we can help family and owner managed businesses implement successful marketing campaign please get in touch.


Enquire about our services

    Your Name (required)

    Your Email (required)


    Your Message