ZOOM etiquette and Zoom Meeting DO’s and DON’TS made all the top 10 blog topics lists (2020-2021). In 2021, Zoom etiquette continues to be a dominant blog theme. These virtual meeting platforms are here to stay, especially with travel restrictions likely to continue for at least the next two (2) years (or longer).
As the pandemic spread across the globe in early-and-mid 2020, we became increasingly reliant on Zoom meetings and digital devices to connect with colleagues and customers. And nearly everyone else, including family, friends — and education providers.
Border closures had a dramatic impact on our digital conference rates and Zoom usage. Home office gadgets, including video cameras, Zoom app filters, and other devices skyrocketed.
Remote Auditing using Video Conferencing
Video conferencing technologies are now being used to perform remote audits on a regular occasion. These remote audits/offsite “inspections” include regulatory audits by the TGA and FDA of Pharmaceutical Quality Systems (PQS audits). The FDA calls them ‘remote interactive evaluations’ and they are being used when travelling is not feasible (such as when it’s too risky for personnel, but when NOT auditing is too risky for public health and patient safety).
Zoom etiquette and video conferencing skills
Why converting to video-conferencing meetings is still in transition for many meeting organisers
Remote auditing options, as well as video-based auditing techniques, evolved out of necessity. But the transition didn’t go smoothly for some; and many individuals — a year later — complain of ‘Zoom meeting fatigue). Watch a Mayo Clinic video on how virtual meetings impacts your mind and body.
The backstory to the rise in video conferencing in response to the pandemic
All sectors have experienced a rise in the use of internet conferencing, not just GMP sectors like the Pharmaceutical industry.
But for the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry, Zoom meetings and/or secure videoconferencing platforms, and remote auditing, is a necessity.
- Firstly, it has been increasingly necessary to use video conferencing to audit overseas suppliers (and other remotely-located partners) in the pharmaceutical or medical device supply chains.
- That’s because these supply chains have become more complex over recent decades; involving numerous countries, raw material suppliers and vendors of other processes and components (such as packaging).
Secondly, Zoom meetings and ‘Microsoft Teams’ meetings became mandatory in response to the pandemic. They are now a crucial alternative to in-person meetings, helping protect personnel, premises and patients from potential virus contamination risks. Especially during major outbreaks.
Remote audits are rapidly becoming the preferred method of conducting a GMP audit; given in-person GMP compliance inspections pose a greater risk in the current climate of a global pandemic.
While there are PROs and CONs to both types of audits (onsite audits vs remote audits), remote auditing has many benefits to offer.
Benefits of video conferencing
- Lower costs including travelling costs/meeting catering fees
- Less travel time / less impact on the environment
- Lower cross-contamination risks
- Protection of participants from contagious diseases
Video Auditing (‘virtual auditing’) procedures in GMP sectors are now being used for:
- Supplier audits
- GMP compliance audits including:
- TGA audits
- FDA audits
- MHRA audits
- Other inspections by Regulatory Authorities and supply chain stakeholders
- Supplier qualification processes
- Recordkeeping inspections and other PQS requirements
With video conferencing now a mainstay meeting format, let’s explore the pros and cons of Zoom (or Team) meetings vs in-person meetings – and the basics of Zoom etiquette.
In this best-practice Zoom etiquette article, we’ll also examine the pros and cons of digital training sessions.
Different types of Virtual Training
Distance learning, online learning, and “live streamed’ courses
In addition to video conferencing, remote learning has also risen dramatically in response to the pandemic.
There are two primary types of remote training or ‘distant learning’:
- “live-streamed” training, facilitated by an instructor and attended in ‘real time’ — also known as a ‘virtual classroom’ – this includes replays of live-streamed training
- online courses
These online training delivery methods will never fully replace onsite training and Supervision in GMP environments. However, these training delivery methods can be incredibly beneficial when in-person options for personnel training are restricted (e.g. when there are lockdowns, border closures, or travel restrictions).
Online courses – whether via self-directed training modules or ‘live-streamed, instructor-led virtual classrooms’ – are crucial components for delivering comprehensive, blended training programs.
This has long been the case. However, these trainng options are growing in popularity
Online courses are not only ideal for employees, contractors, equipment maintenance workers and/or cleaners but are valuable to train Supplier teams, who may not be as experienced in GMP compliance matters as manufacturing site personnel.
For example, warehouse and transportation personnel need to be properly trained in GMP compliance matters, particularly good recordkeeping skills.
- Virtual training courses and online training modules make excellent orientation resources, as well as annual refresher courses.
- They can help an organisation to build and sustain a “genuine quality culture”; providing adequate reminders of crucial quality and safety messages.
- These are the ‘quality culture’ messages that need to continue throughout a person’s career.
Remote training options are the safest training options available as the deadly pandemic continues to change our lives in significant — and often permanent — ways.
The growth rate in Zoom meetings in 2020 and 2021, related to the pandemic, is staggering.
- Zoom was a billion-dollar Unicorn in the tech world long before the pandemic reached every shore across the globe
- Even so, Zoom meetings grew exponentially in the first half of 2020 as businesses adapted to regional lockdowns and Covid risks
- Video meetings are expected to continue to be the ‘go to’ meeting method for businesses over the longer term of time (continuing from 2020-2021 through at least the end of 2023 if not longer).
Video conferencing will continue to be the ‘go to connection method’ until enough of the population have been vaccinated to reduce the risk of contagion. But IF and WHEN ‘in-person meetings’ become safe and economical again, videoconferencing rates are likely to remain high because people will have readily adapted to them, including their many benefits.
Video meetings could easily end up being the go-to-meeting method for an indefinite period of time.
Why companies and employees are happier with video conferencing vs face-to-face meetings
- Many people have readily adapted to video meeting technology
- Not all individuals enjoy it as much as they do face-to-face meetings
The benefits of video meetings and remote auditing, however, far outweigh the downsides of meeting via digital platforms (such as Zoom) vs face to face.
Top 5 Benefits of Zoom Meetings vs Face-to-Face Meetings
Benefits of Zoom meetings (‘virtual catchups’) vs face-to-face meetings include, but are not limited to:
- Convenience (once people become familiar with Zoom settings or Team meeting options and basic technology controls)
- Cost savings (no expensive venue fees)
- Time savings (no parking and transportation issues; no travel time; no waiting on participants who are running late due to traffic jams; and no time lost to sorting out varying special-catering-needs requests)
- Environmental impacts (notable reductions in air pollution and carbon emissions, for example)
- The ability of Zoom meeting attendees to directly and immediately take actions after the meeting ends, rather than losing focus due to driving back through heavy traffic or trying to perform tasks in a crowded, noisy office space.
Are there downsides to Zoom meetings vs face-to-face?
Zoom vs face-to-face meetings: is it difficult to adapt?
- Some business leaders do find Zoom meetings challenging
- Body language communication limitations are an issue
- Many individuals are tempted to multi-task during a Zoom/video meeting where they wouldn’t do so face-to-face
- Some perform other tasks and lose focus during the meeting
- Others may be trying to have their meal break at the same time, shutting off their video stream and thus limiting reaction times and visibility of their facial expressions
Some meeting participants may also ‘multi-task’ (texting or emailing during a meeting), which means holding attention in a digital meeting can be more challenging, for some, than holding attention in a face-to-face meeting.
Other business leaders are chastising themselves for not implementing cost-saving video meetings (and online training options) earlier in their business plans — long before the pandemic left us all with little choice but to adapt to ‘virtual’ meeting methods.
Education Providers and Zoom
Have higher education providers adapted fully to online education formats, as of 2021?
University teams were hit hard by the pandemic. Some fared better than others in adapting to video-based lectures and online learning options in a timely matter.
Other Universities lagged well behind.
- When borders closed in relation to the spread of Covid, millions of overseas students failed to return to campuses – the large majority were left stranded overseas over the holidays, or in States geographically removed from their University campuses
- Campuses that did remain open (or reopened) also faced enormous risks of rapid viral spread to students and professors alike, including:
- potential liability claims
- OH&S or WHS claims (Occupational Health & Safety/Workplace Health & Safety) involving serious disease, disability and death
High Schools and Universities scrambled to turn classroom lectures into online resources — literally overnight — which didn’t always go to plan.
Another transition that took time was turning classroom lecturers into engaging online presenters. Many simply didn’t make the transition successfully; others were made redundant as the student population dwindled to well below 40% of their normal capacity*. (*Statistics varied.)
Challenges of transitioning education to virtual delivery formats
But all changes have their transition periods, their stumbling blocks. All industry changes experience ‘their most embarrassing moments ever’ levels of discomfort during change. The education sector was no exception; although these mishaps often led to amusing recordings that went viral in a period of hours.
Legalities also apply.
We’ll discuss TIPS for being an engaging presenter, below, but first, the legalities of whether or not to record a video meeting is an important topic for Zoom meeting organisers, and University lecturers, to consider.
Should you videotape a Zoom Meeting?
Zoom Meeting Etiquette and Awkward Episodes
This question of videotaping meetings is fraught with issues and risk-management considerations. It is also covered by privacy laws that can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In some regions, the legislation simply hasn’t kept up with the rapid pace of technological changes.
Many presenters are left confused or just ‘run with recording’ after a quick mention of it to their online meeting attendees. But the risks are high.
Video recording meetings is so much easier than arranging a video recording of a face-to-face meeting. So it often begs the question: “Should I video record my Zoom meetings as evidence of what was actually discussed; and/or allow the review of the terms agreed upon in the meeting?
Pros and cons of recording Zoom meetings or Team Meetings
You should consult your legal team in relation to recording Zoom meetings or video conferences using Microsoft Teams.
Reminder: Our articles should never be construed as legal advice or advice of any other kind. We merely provide commentary and etiquette tips as food for thought; for educational purposes only. This includes our discussion of the pros and cons of recording Zoom meetings and the requirements for informed consent, which you must become familiar with before you make a decision to record or not record your Zoom meeting or other online gatherings.
When deciding if you should or shouldn’t record a Zoom meeting, you must comply with all relevant privacy and surveillance laws.
Informed consent is a must for recording video meetings on Zoom or Teams.
Written consent forms are likely required in addition to verbal consent, to protect yourself from future claims or distribution problems.
Whichever informed consent method you use, written or verbal (or ideally both), digital meeting recordings are always vulnerable to being leaked to the public.
Any digital recording in modern times could potentially end up on the evening news, Twitter, Facebook, and/or someone else’s YouTube channel.
Considerations regarding Zoom meeting recordings and video-sharing decisions: a brief introduction to recording risks
Most sensitive topic meetings should rarely be recorded unless all parties would be happy with that information being circulated to the public.
Zoom or Team Meetings that may be worth gaining consent to record and distribute include:
- Project meetings (not of a sensitive nature) after attaining informed consent from all participants
- Contract or supplier discussion meetings so long as:
- all parties are thoroughly and adequately informed
- all parties provide full consent per requirements of privacy and surveillance legislation
- written consent is obtained (especially if there are any potential video access, distribution issues or privacy issues that could emerge)
- all parties are also informed of video storage, access, and agreed distribution (but consider the risk of proprietary information being discussed in the meeting, where public sharing of the recording through an accidental leak (or intended leak) could harm anyone’s reputation or give competitors proprietary project information.
- Meetings that are intended to record crucial evidence or discussions — and for which informed consent is attained — should use different types of recording methods as a backup plan (e.g. separate audio recording device, plus 1 or more video devices); data integrity risks must also be considered.
In general, it is appropriate that all parties in a recorded meeting must give their informed consent, pre privacy and surveillance legislation requirements.
All parties to video-recorded meetings should also be made fully aware of the inherent risk of digital security breaches or video leaks. Informed consent also means the person meets all requirements for providing informed consent (e.g., an adult over the age of 18, with the capacity to understand the nature and risks of providing informed consent, etc.)
Do you need approval from all participants to record a Zoom meeting if it’s intended only for your personal use?
- Typically YES, the informed consent rules still apply even if you plan to use the video only to review a project meeting discussion, for example.
- The purpose of recording a Zoom or Team meeting does not change the legal requirements for attaining informed consent to record the meeting.
Privacy and surveillance laws require adequate and informed consent for any type of video or audio recording.
Just like any other audio recording, there are rules about gaining informed consent before you hit that record-video button on Zoom; just as there are for recording private conversations, phone calls, or discussions between an attorney and their client.
In brief, to meet consent requirements to record a Zoom meeting, you’ll need to review the privacy and surveillance legislation in your jurisdiction(s); consult with your legal team for specific advice.
A quick note: Privacy and Surveillance laws may vary depending on your jurisdiction.
- For example, some jurisdictions may have a ‘one-party recording consent’ law.
- Even so, you’d be very wise to check with your legal team and legislation authorities and perform a risk assessment before you hit ‘record’.
Other laws may apply to video recordings.
Depending on the intended use of video recordings for public viewing, and the risks and benefits to participants, meeting attendees may be asked to sign a Performance or Appearance Release form.
“Can someone record me without my knowledge, even if I am the meeting host?” is another pertinent question.
- Yes, it is possible for meetings to be recorded, even by unauthorised attendees, without the knowledge of the video meeting host.
- Many Zoom meetings were ‘crashed’ by unauthorised attendees; so it’s important for organisers to consider meeting invitation security and ‘participant entry’ monitoring
Personality changes and video meetings – is it a thing?
Why is it that some individuals come across as ‘duller’ in Video meetings than they do when they’re attending an in-person meeting?
- If someone seems less engaging when using digital video formats, it’s often at least partially related to the fact they can see themselves on camera; and when speaking, the video platform ‘highlights’ their image and splashes it across the screen (depending on the settings).
- Individuals are more likely to feel self-conscious, and/or more exposed when seeing themselves on a big screen while talking; rather than sitting around a conference table in a meeting room without that type of ‘visual feedback’.
- Alternatively, ‘performer personalities’ may end up talking MORE than normal in a video meeting because they actually enjoy seeing themselves in the ‘featured speaker’ spotlight.
Avoiding awkward moments in Zoom meetings – and embarrassing moments that go viral
If you have any doubts regarding the potential for very awkward moments during Zoom meetings — or proper online meeting etiquette — refresh your memory with the Handford Parish Council’s Zoom meeting (Jackie Weaver – “best of moments”) video that went viral around the globe.
At least one member of that meeting (and a large portion of the public, courtesy of Zoom’s meeting ‘recording’ functions) was delighted Jackie Weaver could simply press a button to eliminate an annoying and disrespectful colleague.
Oh, the power of the internet!
Indeed, businesses now recognise the benefits of online meetings. Of minimised office space and lower rental costs. Of less traffic. Of lowered risks to personnel safety (and lower costs) achieved by significant reductions in travel times.
But presenters and participants alike have struggled to ascertain the DO’s and DON’Ts of Zoom meeting etiquette — etiquette that also applies to online training sessions and all other digital meeting spaces.
Zoom Etiquette: Meeting lessons learned in the wake of the pandemic
Covid-related changes to the education industry caught many training providers by surprise, with many organisations (and Instructors) notably unprepared to deliver their education purely by digital means.
The pandemic of 2020 and the impact of Covid on educational systems worldwide
Governments, as well as education providers, were ill-prepared to adopt remote training delivery methods (versus classroom-based delivery).
Some professors and instructors were also unfamiliar with platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
Many instructors and professors not only lacked the necessary technical skills to deliver training to groups of students via the internet — many also lacked the required digital capacity (as internet data usage skyrocketed); and many lacked the personality needed to ensure engagement with their students.
But with in-person training delivery options rapidly shut down, they had no choice but to ‘wing it’ over the internet. Some flew. But many failed.
One major difficulty was that issues with internet speed and bandwidth meant students were NOT using video features. This was a one-way video lecture, inherently problematic in terms of engagement capacity. The instructor was ‘leading to an invisible screen audience’ of names, but zero faces.
Knowing that most of these University lectures were going to be recorded, many students also took the ‘luxury of attending when it suited them’ approach. This resulted in real-time engagement with students becoming a nearly impossible task for some instructors.
But overall, the majority of established education providers and pharmaceutical industry leaders successfully moved to “virtual training delivery” options (virtual course delivery via the internet) within a period of 1 to 3 months or less.
The predominant delivery platform was ZOOM, which experienced a 355% growth in revenue in the second quarter of 2020 (the first significant spikes in Covid cases and lockdown periods), followed by Microsoft Teams/video meetings, and GoToMeeting(s).
Requirements and video meeting etiquette
ZOOM training delivery vs classroom delivery settings
The 3 key differences between ZOOM meetings and in-person meetings can be categorised as resources, engagement, and delivery costs.
- RESOURCES – Technology, equipment, internet data capacity/internet speed and ‘digital tech comfort levels‘ are rarely equal between all participants.
- ENGAGEMENT – Some individuals find that they can better read – and engage – with participants when they are sitting in a room, in a circle or around a table. This in-person setting allows everyone to see everyone else’s body language as well as facial expressions. Additionally, some individuals may feel MORE comfortable (not less comfortable) interrupting an in-person session with valuable questions but might feel more intimidated to do so on a large-group video session (or might be discouraged from asking questions until the end of the presentation, where they run out of time or lose interest in asking it even though they remain confused).
- DELIVERY COSTS – Classroom training has different delivery costs than online learning (consider venue expenses, morning tea and meal costs, parking, media rentals, commuting risks and/or travel expenses, and more).
Zoom etiquette when delivering training courses
Making remote connections count.
- You should position ‘participant comfort’ at the top of your “to do” list when planning your Zoom meetings or virtual training delivery.
The #1 priority for presenters hosting a Zoom Meeting (or delivering virtual training sessions ) is the participants’ comfort and convenience.
Preparation is essential. Back-up plans for technical difficulties should be in place, and communicated to all participants, well in advance of the actual training session or Zoom meeting.
All presenters and participants should be made aware of what to do next – and who to email or call – if something doesn’t go ‘to plan’.
The following Zoom etiquette points should be taken into account.
RESOURCES: Technical and equipment needs
Is everyone’s internet connection stable?
- Be sure to let participants know to REMAIN ONLINE in the event the presenter’s internet drops out
- Clearly define who the participants should contact (and by what means – telephone or email?) if they can’t see you, hear you, or view your shared screen presentations or the chatbox
- Check your own internet stability, data speed and data usage – test run the course with a similar group size of colleagues or friends whenever possible
- Present from the best room possible in terms of your internet speed and signal consistency
- DO check your background visuals when presenting by video
- Avoid the cluttered office look
- Eliminate or at least minimise the possibility of random interruptions from pets, kids, traffic, and/or the neighbour’s rusty chain saw
Is everyone’s computer up to date, with appropriate systems and hardware to communicate via video conferencing?
Best-practice Zoom meeting etiquette requires presenters to help ALL participants understand:
- WHAT equipment they will need (microphone, headsets, video camera)
- WHICH software, browser and Zoom software version they will need (for example, old browsers and outdated computer equipment (or early-generation mobile phones) may not function properly with the latest meeting software versions)
- HOW to use the Zoom or Microsoft Team meeting functions, including ‘raising a hand’, ‘muting and unmuting a microphone’, and moving between different ‘screen view’ options (as well as screen share)
- DATA usage demands – consider that is someone is on a limited plan where internet speed slows down once a certain data usage limit is reached, their learning and/or online meeting experience could end up painful
What is the risk management approach (and backup plan) for potential technical difficulties, such as:
- Internet dropout of the Instructor during the lesson
- Internet dropout of the Participant / Participants
- Screen sharing malfunctions
- Dead laptop batteries, dead or broken mobile phones, and/or power outages
One way to avoid disasters when organising an important Zoom meeting or virtually-delivered training course is to ensure you have duplicative equipment (backup equipment), a secondary form of internet (such as via a mobile phone), and an alternate ‘stand-in’ Zoom Presenter or Instructor. These should all be prepared, connected, q’d up and ready to go in a moment’s notice.
TIP: If you’re the presenter, ensure your presentation media is showing up on your participant’s screens in a readable format. If you’re a participant, and something isn’t working – you can’t see the presentation media or you can’t hear the presenter or participant’s questions, RAISE YOUR (digital) HAND as soon as you notice the problem.
Improving participant engagement when hosting a Zoom meeting
Zoom etiquette tips in relation to presenting skills and attendee participation improvements
Should ALL participants turn on their videos?
- That’s the question all presenters and participants must decide when engaging with virtual training delivery.
- There are many benefits to having all participants use their video cameras “on” for virtual meetings…the greatest benefit being engagement and interaction.
- In an ideal world, the videos of all adults in the meeting SHOULD be ON (with informed consent)
- But internet speed issues or bandwidth capacity could negate this being a viable option for either the hosts/presenters AND/OR the participants
- But it makes sense, especially with regional time differences, to allow participants the chance to turn off their videos if they are grabbing a quick bite during the presentation (and to mute their microphones, especially for those ‘necessity’ breaks)
- Few people enjoy watching their colleagues chowing down during a presentation
- But at the start of the presentation, offer them ‘break-taking tips’ for video settings; strongly encouraging all participants to turn their videos back ON whenever they are not eating, drinking, or taking a toilet/bathroom break.
Remember: If you’re recording the session for future use or distribution of any kind, you must let your participants know that you are recording the session and where and how it will be used; and gain consent according to the relevant legislation.
The ‘trial run’ approach: best-practice Zoom etiquette for meetings and training sessions
Have you managed the risks of conducting an online meeting or virtual-training session by conducting a trial run?
- Definitely opt for a trial run with a ‘friendly’ audience of similar demographics, and technical skills, to your target audience.
- Coaching on audience participation using digital means is often required for individuals who have rarely held a meeting or training session using ‘virtual delivery’ methods.
- Zoom etiquette would also ensure your presenters and instructors are well-versed in avoiding outdated expressions, such as racist comments or derogatory statements.
- Ensure you have Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for your Zoom meetings and training sessions that include how to respond to contentious topics and/or inflammatory questions – especially for press briefings and hot topic training sessions attended by individuals with strongly-held opinions or personal agendas that could detract from your session OR land your presenter in a difficult position or socially-inappropriate spotlight
Is your presenter accustomed to speaking to others through a screen?
- Zoom etiquette requires your meeting host and other presenters to understand not only the technology they will be using to deliver their information; but also to understand the more advanced features of Zoom or Microsoft Teams — including Zoom or Teams meeting troubleshooting basics!
- Advanced features such as share screen and ‘breakout rooms’ (virtual break out rooms in Zoom allow you to connect members of your audience to each other, where they can chat, work out problems, or perform other group tasks and group engagement activities.
Want more on digital technology delivery methods and zoom etiquette?
Online Training Delivery Costs