In this lesson, we’re going to talk about manners and the rules for being polite on a Zoom call. Follow these rules of politeness to make a professional impression in Zoom meetings. 

Manners and How to Be Polite on Zoom

Video meetings have become a common feature of  working life since the Coronavirus pandemic. After a year of lockdowns, we’ve all had a lot of experience on Zoom.

We have now reached a point where there are no more excuses for bad practices and manners. You must present a professional image during video calls in 2021.

It’s likely you’ve seen examples of poor manners on Zoom. I speak to students and professionals from many different countries, and I got their opinions on this as well. So, this lesson contains a good mix of experiences on what should be the social etiquette (French word for social norms and values) when attending video meetings.

After this lesson, you will avoid reflecting badly on yourself and your job, by keeping these Zoom rules and video call etiquette in mind.

The dress code for your Zoom call

The dress code for your Zoom call should be the same as the dress code you would follow if you were going to go to that meeting in person. So, if you would usually wear a suit jacket when meeting in person, that’s what you should wear for your Zoom call.

I’m not saying that you need to wear a suit all day in your house. I’m suggesting, for the call you make the effort; you put your suit on. As soon as the call is done, you can take it off.

This is also how we avoid embarrassing moments like featuring pyjamas in the shot, or tracksuit bottoms, when you need to get up for something.

Show off your zoom call equipment

Let’s talk about your setup, which is the equipment that you’re using.

Another word for that is your gear. But this is more of a ‘techie’ word. If you’re into your tech, and you’re proud of it, then you might call it your gear. For example, you can refer to your camera gear.

It’s clear that working from home may go on and on and on. So, there are displays of status you could show off while on the call. Showing off is like, “Hey, look at this everyone, look at what I’ve got”.

For example, if you have a boom stand and a microphone, you can show these off in the shot. I’m always quite impressed when I see someone’s got that. Anything that people are going to go, “Oh, wow, you’ve invested some money”, is going to make you look good.  

‘Boomer tech’ explained…

I know this may not apply to most of you, but I want to talk about an internet slang word, which is ‘boomer tech’.

This is a word you would use to describe anyone who is having irritating tech problems because they don’t know how to use it properly, and it’s a bit annoying because these are easy things that they should know.

All kinds of boomer tech problems are just unacceptable. Go and watch a few ‘how to videos’ and learn how to do it properly before coming in the Zoom call and being embarrassing like that.

So, this is a derogatory word. It’s a kind of insult. So you would never say this to someone directly, “Oh, you’re being boomer tech” or “That’s boomer tech”, but you would think it.

It’s different if your internet connection goes off or if your computer freezes. Unfortunately, that sort of stuff does happen on Zoom. It’s not always your fault, and it’s irritating that it happens.

Try your best to avoid embarrassing ‘boomer tech’ issues.

Improving the sound for your video calls

Do what you can to improve the sound in your room. This might be something simple like closing the windows so you don’t hear the traffic noise. It can also be closing the door to prevent the people in the other rooms of your house from being heard on the call.

This might also be generally improving the acoustics of the room. Meaning, how the sound echoes in the room space. If you have lots of hard surfaces, you might want to get some cushions in the room, even some blankets, that can absorb the sound. You will sound so much better if your room has decent acoustics.

Are pets acceptable on a Zoom call?

Let’s talk now about pets. I’ve got a cat and he has to be shut out of the room when I am on a video call. We all know that cats want your attention. They want to go on the keyboard. Also, my cat bites. I can’t be on a Zoom call whilst having my cat bite me on the leg. Can you imagine?

So pets have to go outside. This is a boundary’s issue. My cat doesn’t like being put out of the room which makes it tough, but you just have to do it. It’s part of your work.

You can’t have your pet in your office with you, can you? This is the way it has to be.

Zoom calls interrupted by kids

From my experience on Zoom, kids will always be trying to get the attention. Even if they’re not participating in that call, they’ll be doing stuff and they’ll be curious. This is a sensitive topic because people are going to say interruptions can’t be helped while their kids are at home.

Another point to mention is babies crying during a group Zoom group call. It’s quite bad form because the noise is going to disrupt other people. 

I’m saying this just for the benefit of people who maybe didn’t realise how this seems or goes down. I know I’m probably going to get some negative feedback about this. Hopefully, people can understand the other point of view.

Food and drinks on a video conference call

Now let’s talk about food and drink. Do not drink anything apart from water or a basic drink like a tea or a coffee.

Even drinking a tea or a coffee is slightly rude, but I admit, that I do it sometimes, but only if I’m relaxed and it feels appropriate.

Eating anything is impolite. Even a little sweet, mint, or some chewing gum. Do not eat while you’re on the call. Even a biscuit, all of it is bad.

If you must eat or drink something other than water, at least turn your camera off while you’re eating. But bear in mind that the other participants may think you are being rude or have gone away, if you suddenly turn off your camera.

It’s considered bad manners to eat during a conference call.

General video call tips

  1. Do not groom on a group class or call. Things like putting on makeup, doing your nails or doing your hair are not acceptable. You may think this is fine, or maybe you think no one’s noticing what you’re doing.
  2. If you are participating in the call, have an emergency tissue around. A tissue box is very handy because you never know if you might need to sneeze. And if you do need to sneeze and you can’t turn the camera off quickly, at least duck out of the view. You don’t want people seeing that.
  3. Another tip about sound. When you are on a group call. when you’re not speaking, mute yourself.  If everyone does this its going to create the best atmosphere in terms of the sound in the whole call. It’s really bad manners if the sound of your typing or doing stuff is interfering on the listening experience of other people.

So there you go. Thank you for joining me for this lesson, I hope this wasn’t too controversial. You should now know some great tips for video conference calls on Zoom.

Please like the video if you haven’t done so already, and also consider joining my email newsletter, which I use for getting in touch about my lessons and special offers.

Extend Your Learning

▶︎ Study another Business English lesson with Returning to Work Vocabulary

▶︎ Watch my lesson on English Culture and How to Be Polite.



Jade Joddle grows your confidence and skill to shine when speaking English.

Comments are closed.