Communication How To...

Guide to video etiquette. Nine key tips.

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We are now post Easter.  The novelty of working from home is not only wearing off for many, it’s hitting some barriers.  Remote working fatigue is setting in. Are we burnt out already?

Complacency about social distancing is also setting in. (and that could be a whole other article – stay at home people until told otherwise!)

Businesses remain in limbo. We are unsure about how long this will go on for.

But on it goes none the less.   Because of this weariness, ADAPTOVATE want to share with you a few things we’ve learned by working via video the past 6 weeks.    Video etiquette if you like.

Video meetings and how to do them are universal it seems. Even though ADAPTOVATE are global, with people in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia, we were able to distill everything into 9 KEY IDEAS.

Our employees are still actively engaged (via video) with our clients.  So we asked some of them to share what they’ve learned about working via video.  We trust it will give you some thought-starters or ideas to help elevate your own teams success with video etiquette.

Before we get to the list , know this – YOU CAN DO IT! As one of our consultants in LA, Brooke Pannell, shared “I have learned that we are fully functional working remotely; there has not been one moment where I have thought “this is something that would be easier if we were all together in a meeting room.”


1.   THE POWER OF CONNECTION. (Personal, not your isp!)

In a recent SmartBrief article, the writers remind us that the US were already “already experiencing firsthand the effects of our growing epidemic of loneliness.  Relational connection is now even more important.

Caitilin Studdert, one of our ADAPTOVATE principals said this about the power of video:  “It’s far more personal and the power of connection should not be underestimated. Be yourself and be honest.”


This is a big one. Keeping focused is a lot more difficult on video than in a live in-person meeting.

Ted Tomoyasu, a consultant in LA says  “When collaborating virtually I find it is really important to stay engaged or you can zone out”.

Shannon Gilliam, another of our consultants in LA, agrees.  “I’m more cognizant of my facial expressions since I can see myself on video. I attempt to make sure that I am smiling and looking much more engaged than I think I’ve ever even done in person.”

When presenting via video – it can feel lonely.   So being able to see more than just your powerpoint works in your favour.  Sean Woon – the Managing Director of our sister company TRIBE, says “I normally like to feed off the audience, so having tools like ZOOM where I can see more than 4 at a time is great.

“I am conscious that as a listener on VC, I need to continuously focus on the speaker and not to get distracted by my phone etc. We do this in person and so we need to continue this on VC.” He says.

Another critical part of keeping focus is your location.  It can be important to define a private space before the remote meeting.

Andy Koh, a senior consultant from our Singapore offices explains “Having a private space will serve to mitigate the risk of getting distracted. A few clients who are scrum masters or coaches have an important role to play during the Agile ceremonies.”

Getting distracted while facilitating tends to detract the team from the purpose of the ceremony.


That last few weeks have taught us the importance of video casual chats as well as work meetings.

Chelsea Bates, our MD in Melbourne says, “Allowing time at the start of each video call to ask how people are and what they have been up to, just like you would do with any onsite meeting you walked into.”

The Agile Manifesto

Mina Gurgis, a senior consultant in Australia, reminds us of the importance of the first value in the Agile Manifesto – ‘Interactions and people over processes and tools’. Mina explains “I learnt that tools and processes bring order to my communication and interaction with people, yet they do not create those communications.

That is, if I was disconnected to my team when I was working in a face to face environment, adding processes and tools in a remote environment won’t help much. We’ve got to have the right people with the right attitudes and collaborative spirits first then bring processes and tools to facilitate the communication.”


It’s a strange hic-cup in the virtual meeting norm now.   The importance of the agenda. It appears to be one of the first things that falls of our best practice list.

Preparing for a meeting or ceremony beforehand and knowing exactly how you want the meeting to proceed is key to good facilitation. We know that one of the ways to prepare for a ceremony or meeting is to communicate an agenda that has been thought out in advance, with guardrails in place to prevent deviation.

Caitilin Studdert recommends you to, “please, please, set the expectations for your video call prior so that all attendees know what to expect.”

“Include your agenda with assigned ownership of tasks.” suggests Rachna Verma.  She continues “Focus on one thing at a time in a meeting. Multiple conversations don’t work remotely and you need to bring people back on topic to close out agenda items” she says.


Things will take a little longer as we experience technology and system latency; mic problems and connectivity issues so always allow a little extra time and be patient.

Caitilin suggests that If you’re having wi-fi issues explain in advance so that participants know whether to continue the meeting in your absence or not.

Caitilin says “If you are not the master of tech (and I am exhibit A) then be prepared to acknowledge it. Video demands that you are far more organised and prepared for your meetings as it’s less favourable for ‘ad-hoc’ but no less outcome oriented.”

Background and lighting is important.  It doesn’t have to be a whole study.  In fact our one of our partners, has a corner of the bedroom, as his office has been taken over by his home-schooled children.  What’s important is it’s decent, clean and somewhat professional.


Brooke Pannell made the observation that we are now getting to know co-workers a lot better.  We are essentially having a peak into their lives.

She says “It’s been a great way to bond and share our lives with each other on a more personal level.”

Because most of us do have family around, be it partner, children or parents, it does mean that we need to be understanding of our co-workers personal lives.   If they ‘invite’ you into their world,  it’s a privilege that needs to be respected.   Know the boundaries.

Just watch out for the “working from home fails”.  Google it. Enough said.


Mark Barber, a project lead in Melbourne says that he’s learned we should no longer rely on constant co-creation of work and collaboration.   But instead to use that way of working when it is really needed.  He says “Collaboration done remotely has a much higher cost – mentally, financially and physically – so we need to adjust how much we rely on it.

Mark continues “We are finding that working more offline and using video calls to get feedback and alignment is the way forward. This has the added benefit of giving people much more deep work time that doesn’t get interrupted as in an open office.

Mark recommends to facilitate this approach, you need three things in place –

ALIGNMENT: Aligning on priorities at the start of the day helps people to self manage their work throughout the day.

TRANSPARENCY: helps us to see progress to goals without having to call people or schedule costly update meetings, giving us more time for focused work and ensuring the calls we do make are moving work forward.

3) TEAM NORMS.  Finally, much has been written about team norms, but shifting to a different offline/online work ratio requires team norms in order to know when video calls are acceptable and how we might be able to communicate without lengthy video calls.


One of the key lessons for remote working is that we are not alone.

Andy Koh reminds us “not to forget that you belong to a team or group of people who can help.

For example – If it is not possible to find a private space at home or prepare for a meeting beforehand, it is still possible to ask a team member to take over the facilitation, or hand over facilitation to another person directly in the remote meeting with the relevant context or skill-set.


Yes indeed.  This has been one of the wonders of working remotely.  The joy that has popped up via video.   Steve Walton – a project lead in Australia says “Working remotely via video is something I am very used to. I had always approached it as work, and as a tool for building rapport. Whilst I have talked about having fun via video, I hadn’t realised how much fun can be had.”

He gives these examples, “The last couple of weeks has been stressful for all, however I have been getting together with people to relax and do joint social activities. Examples have been cocktail making, art talks, and even a wormhole joining a group for most of a day where it flexed from serious to silly in a heartbeat. “

Benny Ko, a consultant in our Australian team agrees. “Working via video allows for more fun with the team, i.e. we dress up for stand up or team members show off their pets”.

Brooke Pannell says she’s learned “that some of my co-workers have extensive costume closets, other co-workers are expert bartenders…”

The big lesson here is that when so many people are working from home, there is more informal types of fun, than when we are working from offices.

So there you have it!   Keep the list near your computer.  Do a quick glance before your next team meeting and share with your network.

Thank you, ADAPTOVATE Team.

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