By Callista Gould, Author and Certified Etiquette Instructor

I was blessed with parents who always told me I was perfect. I had eight siblings to set me straight.

One of my sisters said, when I was a baby, my head was so big that when I was first trying to lift it on my own, I looked like one of those nodding, bobble-head dogs that people used to have on their car dashboard in the 1960s.

Today, nodding is useful. On a video conference call, nodding in acknowledgement is good. Nodding off, not so good.

Everyone has mastered how to get on Zoom, Teams or GoToMeetings calls. But not everyone has mastered how to listen on those calls.

If someone snaps a screen shot of a call you’re on, where everyone is captured in little boxes like the old gameshow, the Hollywood Squares, what will your square look like?

I’ve seen people gazing zombie-like at the screen, leaning on their elbow in boredom, working on another computer, leaning way back in their chair, playing with their dog. Sometimes the blue sheen reflecting off their face reveals they are perusing messages on their phone.

On a video call, be attentive to the person speaking. Treat any video meeting as if you are sitting at a conference room table, facing the participants in person.

Make eye contact, by looking at the camera on your computer or phone.
Lean forward slightly, to show you are listening.
Nod once in awhile in acknowledgement.
Smile occasionally. Don’t frown the whole time.

Turn on your camera, so you are visible. This allows presenters to gage audience reaction. That visual feedback can energize presenters or let them know to change tactics.

Being attentive to others is an essential quality of any professional. Listening is key to our success online and off.

Readers talk back! Let me know what positive or unusual behaviors you have witnessed on a video conference call: Contact me at

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