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Presence and Presentation: A Guide to Professional Zoom Etiquette

By Zoë Verteramo

Attending typically in-person classes on Zoom is undoubtedly challenging for students to navigate. Just one year ago, many of us did not even know what Zoom was. However, after almost two semesters of Zoom classes, I have learned a few ways to maintain professionalism that can help lead you to success in your online classes or virtual meetings.

The Right Presentation

Firstly, introduce yourself properly. Your name that appears on Zoom should be your full name. If you have a preferred name, make sure to use that in place of your first name. A rookie mistake is logging into a Zoom meeting without logging into your Zoom account. Consequently, the name that appears for you would be something default such as “iPhone.” Not having your full name shown makes it difficult for other people in the meeting to get to know you, and this can come off as unprofessional. Additionally, some professors take class attendance by names on Zoom, and if there is not a correct name, you may not get attendance points.

Also, consider adding your pronouns to your name on Zoom (e.g., she/her). This can be beneficial for professors and classmates to know how to address you, and can help others feel more comfortable to display their own pronouns rather than going by assumed pronouns. Adding a profile picture to your account is optional. If you choose to upload a profile photo, make sure it is appropriate.

Camera and Microphone Protocol

When it comes to having your camera on or off, my rule of thumb is to ask what the professor prefers. Sometimes professors prefer a passive, lecture-style class with students’ cameras off. On the other hand, professors may prefer everyone’s cameras to be on for more normalcy and two-way discussions in the online classroom. I have found that most students keep their cameras on in smaller classes and turn them off in larger classes. Personally, I like to have my camera on in all of my classes unless a professor prefers otherwise. Lecturing to a blank screen can be draining for professors; turning on your camera is a small way to help professors feel more appreciated. Having your camera on not only demonstrates your dedication to the class, but it is also more personable and will encourage you to stay focused.

It is best to keep your microphone muted at all times to help eliminate background noise in the online classroom. Turn your microphone on when you are speaking and mute yourself again when you are finished. Many people accidentally leave their microphones on during the entirety of class, which can be distracting for the class. To avoid this, be cognizant of when your microphone is on and off. Some professors may request you stay muted at all times until the end of class. If this is the case, you can use the chat feature in Zoom to enter any thoughts or questions you may have during class.

Being Present in Zoom classes

Although it can be hard to maintain motivation with online classes, making an effort to be actively present in class can go a long way for your professionalism and success. Resist the urge to log in to class in bed while you are half asleep. Instead, show that you are committed to school by taking extra initiative. The simple practices below will help you stay focused, display your professionalism and, in result, succeed.

● Prepare your materials before class starts

● Find the Zoom link or meeting ID five minutes before class time

● Log on to class on time

● Use the Zoom reactions (e.g., thumbs up, thumbs down, clapping)

● Take notes or actively listen for the whole class

● Refrain from multitasking

● Participate in class discussion

● Participate in breakout room sessions

● Ask questions by un-muting yourself or writing in the chat

● Stay after class if you need to chat with your professor

● Attend your professor’s office hours on Zoom

● Email your professor and request a one-on-one Zoom meeting, if needed

● Thank your professor before leaving class by unmuting yourself or writing in the chat


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