Pagoda Blog

Video Conference Call Etiquette and Security Tips

April 2, 2020

If you’re in a situation where you’re teleworking, whether by choice or requirement due to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to set some work rules for yourself to ensure you stay professional and productive. This is especially true for video conference calls. When you’re not physically in the same room as your colleagues or clients, it can be easy to forget your manners. It can also be easy to overlook security, putting the content of your calls at risk of a data breach. Here are some tips on video conference call etiquette and how to secure your virtual meetings from unwanted eavesdroppers. 


Related post: Setting Up a Secure and Productive Home Office for the COVID-19 Outbreak


Video Conference Call Etiquette 

Virtual meetings, no matter how good the audio and video quality, feel very different from in person meetings where everyone’s gathered together in the same room. To ensure your conference calls are productive, and everyone feels their time is respected, there are a few video conference call etiquette tips you should observe. 


Join early 

Plan to join your video conference call 5-10 minutes early so you have time to check your equipment and internet connection. Always double check your speaker output and microphone to ensure you can hear others on the call and be heard. If you’re using a new software, give yourself at least 15 minutes to familiarize yourself with the settings, including how to mute yourself, use chat features, and connect to your preferred speakers (internal or headphones).   


Take meetings in a quiet space or wear headphones 

Lots of background noise will make it hard for your colleagues to hear you and to concentrate. If you can’t move into a quiet space, put on headphones to drown out some of the ambient noise. It’s also good practice to mute yourself when you’re not the one speaking. This helps cut out background noise while others have the floor.  


Pay attention to your background

On video calls, a clean, professional background will cut down on distractions for your team and maintain a professional vibe. A simple white wall works well, whereas a bright window can create a blinding glare and put your face in shadow. If your space is overly cluttered or you know people will be walking in and out of view, some conference call softwares offer the option of a greenscreen background. Zoom has multiple faux background options, from a swanky office with a view of New York City to the cartoon living room of the Simpsons. While it’s tempting to get creative here, stick with something professional unless your team culture warrants a more quirky selection.


Keep it professional up top

It’s fine if you want to wear sweats all day when working from home, but you should still put your most professional top-half forward on video calls. Wear a workplace appropriate shirt, comb your hair, and make sure to dust the donut crumbs off your face before turning on the camera.  It’s also good practice to avoid striped shirts as these can be distracting on-screen. 


Besides your appearance, you should also refrain from multi-tasking. This includes snacking, checking your phone, or browsing the internet. Even though not in the same room, it’s obvious when your attention is elsewhere. The sound of typing can also be distracting to your fellow conference call attendees, so if you need to take notes on your laptop (versus with pen and paper) then make sure to mute yourself as you type. Inform your colleagues that you’re taking notes during the call so they know your focus is on the meeting.


Set expectations 

Just as you would for an in-person meeting, schedule your video calls in advance so everyone can prepare. If you need to spontaeneously jump on a call with a colleague, stick to audio only. When people are working from home, unplanned video calls can feel like an invasion of privacy, especially if team members are sharing the space with their spouse or other housemates. It’s also important to set a time limit. To do this effectively, the host of the call should set the limit and be in charge of keeping people on track. Politely, but firmly, steer the team back to the topic on hand. 


Lastly, when working from home, it’s important to set clear boundaries between work and personal time. If possible, work the same hours you were working at the office and step away from the screen at lunch. As an employer, you can help by not expecting your team to be available for calls (or emails) outside of regular work hours. 


Video Conference Call Security 

Observing video conference call etiquette is important, but like any other online platform, it’s also critical that you’re aware of the level of security provided. Video conference call software, like Zoom or GoToMeeting (offered as part of Jive’s VoIP service), ensures your privacy through 128-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption and regular software updates with security patches and improved features. Before selecting your video conference call software, read up on their security policies and customer reviews of its efficacy. 


Below are three other steps we recommend taking to strengthen security:  


Accept video call invites with caution 

As more people work from home, there’s been a drastic increase in the usage of video conference call software, especially Zoom. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, over 1,700 new Zoom domains have been registered, signaling to hackers an opportunity to gain access to people’s personal information through Zoom. Cyberciminals register their own fake Zoom domains and then send phishing emails to their targets with an invite to join a Zoom call. The included link mimics a Zoom file but actually downloads malware onto the target’s device. 


When you open an email that contains a Zoom call invite (or any video conference call invite), double check that the email domain is spelled correctly. You can verify this by hovering your mouse over the name of the sender to see their full email address. The email domain shouldn’t contain any spelling errors or extra numbers, letters or symbols. The included link should also match the company’s correct domain name, but may also include additional letters and/or numbers. For example, Zoom video call links will always be from a HTTPS domain (https://) and will include in addition to a letter and a series of numbers. This is the personal meeting ID that is automatically assigned to you through the Zoom invite. It will look something like this: 


Related post: Should Your Website Use HTTP or HTTPS? 


Update your video conference software 

Keep your preferred video conference software up to date to ensure you have access to the latest security features. Outdated software can provide an in for bad actors looking to steal your personal information or confidential company data.   


Only record with permission

If you’d like to record a video conference, seek permission from everyone attending the call and advise them what you plan to do with the recording. 


Take confidential calls in a private setting   

If you’re planning to discuss or screen share confidential information, ensure that all parties are taking the call from a private workspace where no uninvited guests can view an attendee’s screen or overhear parts of the conversation. 


Identify and remove guest participants

Zoom allows the host of a call, and other users on the same account, to automatically identify guest participants outside of your account who have joined a meeting. By enabling this setting, everyone from the authorized account on the call can see a list of all participants. The guest participants will be highlighted in orange. These flagged participants include anyone who is not signed in, participants signed in from an email address that is not in the same account as the host, or those signed in with a version of the Zoom client software that is older than the supported version. If Zoom identifies an unwanted call participant, click ‘Manage Participants’ and then remove the guest.      


Take advantage of the privacy settings

Most video conference calls offer customized settings, such as requiring a password in order to join a meeting and only allowing people with a specific email domain to join. When you set up your meeting, take advantage of these privacy settings for additional security.  


Read more about Zoom’s security features here and GoToMeeting’s security features here.  


Smoothly making the shift from in-person to virtual meetings 

If your team isn’t yet accustomed to video conference calls, you should block out some extra time in each meeting for technical troubleshooting. It’s also important to note that even though you can still see and hear all your team members, the physical separation may cause some people to speak up less and others to dominate the conversation. If you’re the meeting’s facilitator, make sure you ask for everyone’s input before ending the call. 


Working from home has many benefits but it’s also important to acknowledge the downsides. Losing your work community, for example, can be a tough blow, but video conference calls can help make everyone still feel like they’re part of a team. With the above rules of etiquette and security in place, your business can more smoothly make the shift. 


Related posts: 

How to Avoid Video Call Burnout 

How to Use Technology to Improve Collaboration in the Workplace

3 Ways Technology Can Reduce Stress and Increase Productivity

8 Easy Hacks to Improve Your Productivity Online  


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