Author: M.Kok

Online meetings

Last year brought our lives many changes, of which not all were negative. Something good, was the more common application of working from home or ‘telework’. Working remotely, of course, means that you can’t physically interact with your colleagues. You get to have online meetings instead. 

What is a good online meeting etiquette?

Working in Japan or for a Japanese company means that you will likely have many meetings. Most are actually briefings and debriefings, where daily work goals are given or shared, and the days progress reported. With this type of meetings, you are mostly going to be the one listening. 

Speak when addressed

One of the more confusing and distracting things you can do is speak over each other. It is not always easy to respect the pause when having an online meeting, but practice makes perfect. Also, having the video on helps. 

Keep the microphone muted

When not speaking yourself, turn your microphone off. Breathing into the mic and background noise is (again) a distraction. 

Announce yourself

Sometimes the participation numbers can get bloated, and it is not always easy to tell who is talking. Saying who you are and what department you belong to before chipping in a quick suggestion or question can be a great help (even if your colleagues know you).

Eye contact

It is difficult to stare at the camera and stay focused for the whole duration of a meeting. Just make sure to help the person presenting/moderating by demonstrating that you are still paying attention and understanding what he or she is talking about at the critical points. 

How to hold a meeting or be a facilitator yourself?

Always a good way to start meetings if you get yourself prepared, or equipped.

Prepare your notes

Just like with a physical meeting or presentation, you should have your notes prepared. Without the need to rely on the device you are using for the meeting, it is easier to stay on point and concentrate on conveying the contents. 

Work the tools

Make sure you know how to use the conference tool you are using. For example, if you have to show something on your screen, make sure you know how to do it beforehand. Having ‘technical trouble’ because you did not bother to find out how to use new software is not really professional.

Address the participants

When asking someone to talk, address them by their name and title so that everyone taking part can tell who is about to speak.

Keep track of time

Online meetings are slower by nature, and it is easy to go over time. If the meeting has a time slot, make sure not to go over it. Start by getting the difficult and more time-consuming topics cleared first.

Meeting notes

If you prepared meeting notes for yourself, you might as well share them with the participants. It is good practice because it pushes you to prepare for the meeting properly and encourages you to form the topics in a way that it is accommodating towards the listener.

The camera on or off

There might be reasons why you like to have the video off, and honestly, it is hard (and sometimes even considered harassment) for your superiors/anyone to force you to turn it on.

However, when you are doing a presentation or giving ‘on job training’, you should, out of common courtesy to the listener, have it on. After all, you are working even if it is from the privacy of your own home. 


Before going live test your equipment and be sure you know how to use it. Try to adjust to the standards of the company. Whether it is to have audio-only meetings or full video conferences, make sure you can adequately participate in both.

Online meetings are productive and if done right can be even fun. 

If we all make the best of the technology and tools available, we can hopefully keep the option of remote work even after the pandemic is over.

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