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Four Common Mistakes to Avoid During Virtual Meetings

After months of remote working, we are probably all familiar with (and tired of!) the many mistakes people make during virtual meetings. From sudden interruptions from children or pets, to awkward clothing mishaps, it feels like we’ve seen it all.

But how do we avoid making these embarrassing blunders ourselves?!

Ensure you don’t become the next viral meme and follow our top tips to avoid four common mistakes in your online meetings.

Avoid wearing pyjamas

In weekly meetings with your team, it’s usually completely acceptable to wear casual clothes. However, for important situations like speaking to a client, delivering training or meetings with your senior management team, try to dress to impress! Remember this is a professional setting, so what you wear will impact the impression you make. Consider – is it more appropriate to wear smart dress? What unspoken message do you send to your colleagues if you don’t bother to dress properly?

Beware of distracting backgrounds

Zoom and the updated version of MS Teams have introduced some great custom backgrounds. This is a fantastic alternative to sharing the mess in your room or your unmade bed. In both programs can easily replace your real background with either a static image such as the Golden Gate Bridge or a slowly looping video background of perhaps a beautiful beach scene.

Of course, nothing is stopping you from choosing a smart office background. Maybe you can fool your colleagues with the size of your impressive new ‘home office!’

Photography of Bedroom

Don’t interrupt others

Have you ever been interrupted during a virtual meeting by one of your colleagues? It can be funny, but frustrating if it keeps happening and you’re not able to share your opinion.

Avoid this by looking carefully at other people while they speak during the meeting and look for visual clues that there is a gap where you can interrupt. Alternatively, try raising your hand briefly to catch everyone’s attention. Sometimes this can come across less rude than just butting in! The key point is to be respectful to others and if you do interrupt, be sure to apologise.

Try not to talk too much

Someone that hogs the limelight and talks too much can be a real bore! When taking part in virtual meetings be mindful of how much you are speaking and check you are giving others a fair chance to contribute.

If you are chairing the meeting and find not everyone is participating, one simple technique is to use peoples’ names. For example, “John what are your thoughts on this issue?” This is also an effective way to keep everyone engaged and make sure nobody is daydreaming!


Mistakes during virtual meetings can be funny, but they can also affect your confidence, mood and credibility. Whether you’re participating or leading virtual meetings, be sure to avoid the mistakes mentioned or you might live to regret it, like poor ‘BBC Dad!’

Children interrupt BBC News interview - BBC News

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If you still need help to work more effectively in remote teams you may be interested in our Remote Working training programme, including training in Facilitating Successful Remote Meetings, Managing Teams Remotely and Effective Communication Skills.

By Jacob Ahmadzai

Helping businesses improve performance with proven learning and development solutions. London based with a global reach.