In 2019, I was on a Zoom call with 2 client employees (CFO and Telecom Manager), a telecom vendor service analyst and via audio only was her Manager.  The four of us were looking at a spreadsheet the service analyst had just finished explaining.   As I was speaking to why the figures presented did not appear to be accurate, an internal chat box appeared on the right side of our screens, the service analyst had no clue her chat was in our view.

"How is it going?"
"Tami's being "difficult" and is trying to explain why my figures are incorrect and the refund is due."

My immediate reaction: "If you were my employee you'd be fired on the spot!  You are hereby immediately removed from this account. We can all see your chat conversation. This call is over!"

 After regrouping with my client, I shared the photos of the chat box with her manager and the ownership of the telecom provider. 
The service analyst single handedly created a visual situation where our mutual client (who was already upset regarding a denied credit request for $10,000), saw the "behind the scenes" behavior of an employee who represented the telecom supplier. The client had been purchasing services from the  supplier for five years and the contracts were up for renewal in six months. 

 The result:

  • Our mutual client received several phone calls and apology emails (from the telecom supplier who included the Manager on the call, CEO and CIO).
  • There was no further discussion regarding the credit, it appeared on the next months' invoice.  
  • The service analyst was removed from the account.  
  • The client renewed their contracts with the telecom supplier earlier than the contract term date - their savings began four months ahead of the anticipated scheduled start date.
What was learned?
Clean your desktop prior to a virtual call and share only relevant content
Close all applications that do not pertain to the call.
Keep your call on  your main screen (left) and not your second or third viewing screen.
Pay attention when on a group call!

What is proper virtual meeting etiquette?

If you are like me the first question at the start of every virtual meeting, if I am the host - "Can you see my screen?". I do not trust the technology always works and each call is a presentation of materials and my skills to govern the call. Below is a checklist of items to consider before and during each virtual call.

Do use proper equipment:
Do not use your phone if possible, and if you must use your phone do not hold it... mount it somewhere.

Log in prior to the meeting:
Use the timer on our invitation or set a time to go off 5 minutes prior to the call... if the internet connection is bad you will have time to drop off and log in again. -WTOP News - March 2020

Do have a meeting agenda:
This goes back to the adage "time is precious, don't waste it."

Meeting length:
"Make sure that you keep the meeting as short as possible. Follow the agenda and squash side conversations from taking over. Remind everyone to speak clearly and concisely so that there's no need for repeating what was just said." -

Don't invite unnecessary people:
The more people on the call the more opinions and ideas that can be expressed... with that written, depending on the subject and reason for the call "additional cooks in the kitchen" will hinder the progress of the meeting, not accelerate it.

Clean your computer desktop:
Close all applications that are not part of the call. Have open and in share mode prior to the call the documents to be viewed by all.
If you use two monitors - put the meeting on your main monitor, not your secondary monitor.

Don't stand in front of a window:
Glare or a silhouette could be created - either way, not visually flattering. 
-WTOP News - March 2020

Do engage in some small talk:
This provides time for all to log in to the meeting and helps create a connection and camaraderie. I suggest safe topics - talk about the weather if the participants live in different states or if summer is approaching does anyone have vacation plans? - 
WTOP News - March 2020

Speak clearly and use good manners:

There's nothing worse than someone talking over you, and with virtual meetings (and cellular calls) it happens frequently if the visual feature is not used. If you are all “seeing” each other than speaking over someone just comes across as rude.

Suggestion – announce yourself when you sign into the meeting, but only during a pause when no one else is speaking.  When it is your turn to talk, speak clearly and slowly enough for everyone to follow your part of the conversation.

Do mute yourself when not talking:
Household noises, sounds of children, the dog barking, crumpling papers, typing meeting notes via your keyboard... are all NOISE distractions.

Don't Multitask:
Research has shown that our brains are not nearly as good at handling multiple tasks as we like to think they are. In fact, some researchers suggest that multitasking can reduce productivity by as much as 40%.

The Chat/Question portion of the platform - there is etiquette here too:
If using the text chat function of the platform - meaning everyone will see your question or comment please remember, that written word can also be interpreted by its look. Do not use all caps (that is shouting), use proper grammar and yes, spelling counts!

The “Corcentric Virtual Lunch Bunch”  meets the last Friday of each month at noon …virtually of course.  Would you like to join us?  Our next meeting is February 26th at noon.  

 If you would like  to join or wish additional information, please contact me ( – all are welcome to attend and/or be a guest speaker on a topic related to working remotely.

 The group does not promote or sell business services.  The focus revolves around work at home topics/challenges and how to overcome them.


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Tami Wankoff - Procurement Consultant

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