No one wants to look unprofessional in virtual meetings, but it can happen, often without you even realizing it. With the prominence of meeting online with colleagues, clients, and other professionals, virtual meetings are now on the same level as in-person meetings. Our Legal recruiters in Toronto agree. Our recruiters also suggest, and I agree with, that you are held to the same standards. Being on video doesn’t lessen the professional nature of the meeting.


I researched this topic to develop a list of the top faux pas that can make you look unprofessional during virtual meetings. Here’s the list:

Excessive Background Noise

According to poll results of LinkedIn users from, 50% of people identified disruptive background notices as the biggest annoyance during online meetings. These noise disruptions can come from many sources. The most common are:

  • Barking dogs
  • Loud traffic
  • Side conversations
  • Phone notifications
  • Social media notifications
  • Background music

Forgetting to Mute Yourself

We’ve all been there. We think our microphone is off until someone in the meeting tells us otherwise. Forgetting to mute yourself is not only a faux pas, but it could also put you in an embarrassing situation depending on what others hear. Always double-check to ensure you are on mute if you are not speaking. 

Eating On Camera

For some reason, many people assume it’s okay to eat while in virtual meetings. Perhaps it’s because they are at home. 26% of people view eating during an online meeting as a big no-no. Would you eat during an in-person meeting? Probably not. So, avoid eating on camera if possible.

Being Late For The Meeting

Being Late to a meeting is never a good look. Leaving people waiting is unprofessional and 20% of people see this as a major faux pas. It can disrupt the flow of a meeting if it’s already underway. Being late could also cause the meeting to run long and negatively impact people’s schedules. Be on time. You have ONE opportunity to make a first impression.

Poor Lighting

An often overlooked virtual meeting faux pas is bad lighting. 5% of people viewed poor lighting as something that can take away from virtual meetings. 

“While often overlooked, inadequate lighting can make it difficult for other participants to see facial expressions and body language, hindering communication and engagement,” says Tom Wright from

Honourable Mentions

Many other things can be distracting or considered faux pas. They include the following: 

  • Unprofessional attire
  • Talking out of turn
  • Leaving your camera off (especially during smaller meetings)
  • An unprofessional background image. Sometimes, what is behind you is even more important than what you actually say. (I have seen dirty dishes and unmade beds.)
  • Zoning out – looking away from your computer for extended periods
  • Checking emails or being on your phone
  • Not understanding virtual meeting controls (chat, sharing screens, volume, collaboration, etc.)

A Final Word On Virtual Meeting Faux Pas

I’ve been on my fair share of virtual meetings over the past few years (most of us have). As a recruiter and professional, I can offer one essential advice: treat virtual meetings the same as in-person meetings to ensure you look professional. 


More Virtual Meeting Advice From Our Recruiters

What is the Best Background for Video Calls?

5 Tips to Help You Nail Your Video Job Interview

7 Tips to Conduct a Video Interview That Will Help You Identify Top Talent

Steven Petroff Legal Recruiter

Steven Petroff

As a member of both our Accounting and Legal practices, Steven specializes in the recruitment of lawyers, law clerks, accountants, and investment advisors across a number of industries. Steven supports a large network of candidates as a LinkedIn Profile Expert and Career Coach.

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