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Multiple times I've joined an audio-only Microsoft Teams meeting (on time) where people were already talking. I feel like it would be rude to talk over them to say "hello", like it's going to interrupt the conversation.

Unfortunately, I believe it's also rude to not say hello.

I also think people talking without taking the time to say hello / present everyone in the meeting are somewhat rude, because they are creating this uncomfortable situation.

So, I feel I have no other choice than to wait until I have something to contribute before saying hello / presenting myself. When this happens, I feel I'm not really in the meeting.

Is it considered rude/unprofessional to act like this? What's the proper etiquette?

Should a manager take time to let everyone say hello and present themselves?

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  • 1
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Kilisi
    Sep 26 at 21:19
  • 2
    All systems I know either play a notable sound or even announce the newcomer's name when someone joins an audio-only meeting. Doesn't Teams do that? Sep 27 at 9:10
  • @KilianFoth It does. Depending on the settings, everyone can hear that you're trying to join (if the meeting organizer had Lobby enabled) Sep 27 at 10:06
  • 1
    @KilianFoth It doesn't in my company
    – PowerCat
    Sep 27 at 12:54
  • Does 'audio-only' mean you don't use video, or it is done via group-phone-call? I mean, you can use a landline phone to call a specific number to hear and talk in the meeting, but you won't be able to access most Teams feature (like chat, which I suggested in my answer)
    – Vylix
    Oct 1 at 8:20
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This heavily relies on culture, etiquette and the purpose/nature of said meeting as well as who is actually attending - other colleagues, customers, superiors etc.

Personally I would consider it appropriate NOT to interrupt the person currently speaking in the audio meeting and to greet the attendees of the meeting once there is a lull in the conversation or it's your turn to speak.

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  • 22
    Agreed. The host almost certainly noticed you join. If they didn't say a quick hello, they're asking you to be introduced later. Sep 24 at 12:59
  • 5
    +1 and when that happen to me, I (silently) wave at the camera when I join, they may or may not notice but it doesn't hurt to do it :) (but that can also depend on the audience I guess) Sep 24 at 16:57
  • 27
    @SébastienDeprez waving at the camera for an audio meeting (as the OP asked about) seems... futile. ;)
    – FreeMan
    Sep 24 at 17:20
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    My alternative to hello or waving is to write "Good morning" in the meeting chat.
    – Pere
    Sep 24 at 23:05
  • 4
    People expecting a 'Hello' will understand you did not interrupt the person speaking. People expecting you not to interrupt will be happy.
    – Evariste
    Sep 25 at 16:11
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It's a personal preference in my opinion. Either is professional enough, making a point of interrupting is the more disruptive option.

I treat online meetings the same as most others. In most meetings I attend there is no need for greetings and introductions as we all know each other and we can all see if someone enters after others have started talking.

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  • 13
    "I treat online meetings the same as most others" I think that's the key statement here.
    – iLuvLogix
    Sep 24 at 9:23
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    Or imagine walking into an ongoing meeting and interrupting it to introduce yourself.
    – DKNguyen
    Sep 24 at 22:10
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    @DKNguyen - There's a good youtube video of that
    – T.E.D.
    Sep 25 at 2:45
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    I think the key things distinguishing online and in person meetings is that with an in person meeting, everyone notices when an additional person walks in the door. This isn't always the case with online meetings, where it is possible to unintentionally "sneak in" Sep 25 at 6:17
  • 2
    @DreamConspiracy But by that logic, in an online meeting, having attention = monopolizing attention. So what's more important? That people notice you or the content of the meeting?
    – DKNguyen
    Sep 26 at 3:06
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A simple solution: Join every meeting a minute or two before scheduled time - most likely the primary discussion won't be started by then, and if any informal discussion is going on, saying a hello won't be intrusive or breaking any rhythm.

In the case you are added (by someone else) to an already ongoing meeting, start with a hello from your side, because people might be expecting your presence and not everyone follows the attendee list.

Finally, to address the exact question: If I'm late to a meeting and the primary discussion is already underway, I find it better not to interrupt and wait for either my turn or a pause in the discussion to announce my presence / participation. Otherwise, you always have an option to drop a line in the meeting chat, so someone else who's already in the conversation can announce your presence ("Hey, PowerCat has joined us now!"), as and if needed.

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    This gets my upvote--it's harder to enter a conversation or interject in conferencing software like Teams than it is in person, but you can very easily drop a comment in chat and anybody looking at the screen will probably notice.
    – Erin Anne
    Sep 24 at 20:09
  • 4
    +1 for fixing the real problem: Being late.
    – Heinzi
    Sep 27 at 12:45
  • -1. The question relates to a pre-defined situation: joining after a conversation has begun. "Ya shoulda fallen in" is not a helpful answer to someone asking for help getting out of a hole.
    – CCTO
    Sep 27 at 14:26
  • @CCTO under what other scenario (that is not covered in this answer), will you be joining a meeting in the middle? Sep 27 at 14:31
  • @Soruav Ghosh: I'm not sure I understand the context of your question. The OP asked for help with a specific situation: joining a meeting "on time" (hardly "in the middle") and finding a conversation in progress. Advice to avoid a problem is not an answer to solving a problem. And it's not even good advice to avoiding the problem, since no matter how early you join, there could be people there ahead of you...and back-to-back meetings are common in many people's workdays, so being the Nth person in a call is the norm. OP asked for advice on handling it.
    – CCTO
    Sep 27 at 14:51
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It depends on the culture and the meeting. There are no fixed rules, it's a sliding scale. The factors that main decide if you announce yourself are:

  1. Your importance to the meeting. If you are a key decision maker (or the organizer) then you are more likely to want to announce yourself. The meeting has probably been waiting for you. If you are there mainly to listen, you are more likely not to.
  2. The meeting size. The smaller the meeting the more sense it makes to announce yourself.
  3. Formality. The more there is in the way of a formal agenda, procedures, an order of speaking, the less sense it makes to interrupt that process to say you are here.

Consider also what you would do if the meeting were in person. The ettiquette is approximately the same. Posting a message in chat is more acceptable.

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  1. You're a meeting attendee. The organizer expects that you'll be present so if you don't announce yourself because you don't want to interrupt then I don't see that as being rude. You're supposed to be there.

  2. All the other attendees can see that you are also an attendee. They can see who has joined the meeting. They know you're there. Your silence will be taken for what it is... not wanting to interrupt.

  3. There's no reason you can't send a chat message saying "Hello. I'm here." This is less intrusive and let's everyone know definitively that you are in attendance.

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It depends. Things like this often depend on all sorts of things to determine what is considered professional or rude.

  1. If it's a meeting that hasn't started, chances are any talking going on are side conversations or idle chit-chat, and just saying "hello" should be fine. Especially if this is a small team.
  2. If the meeting is like mine, typically the team lead is in charge. We don't use Teams, but if someone joins, he'll address whoever joined in to greet or identify themselves.
  3. If your meeting is more casual in nature, a quick "hello" might be in order, to get that out of the way and to return to talking.
  4. If your meeting is much more "professional", then conduct yourself accordingly. You might not be allowed to talk unless spoken to first, or the organizer sets it up that way.

Ultimately, there's a ton of "maybe this", or "maybe that" reasons. Speak with your team lead, or whoever organizes the meetings on the side and see what they consider proper etiquette. Perhaps if you do video calls, you need to wear a chicken hat to be "polite". Perhaps you need to be in a suit and tie at all times. Perhaps you need to introduce yourself as if you're on the radio, call sign and all. Or, maybe silence is best.

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There is no way to give a simple "yes" or "no" answer to this, because is depends on the situation: what kind of a meeting it is, how many people are there, when did you join, what is your expected role in the meeting and, most important of all, what's the established local culture regarding such things at your workplace.

In general, the "rules" are more of less the same as for face to face meetings. Imagine that you walk into a meeting room where a bunch of your colleagues are in the middle of a conversation. Would you interrupt them to say "hi"?

Obviously the answer is "it depends", right? If you walked in before the official start of the meeting, and the people talking were a couple of your close coworkers casually chatting about their weekend plans, you probably would. If you walked in late to a big presentation where your boss's boss was talking to a large roomful of people, you'd just quietly sit down and try to minimize the disturbance. And I'm sure you can imagine plenty of other situations between these extremes where the answer could be either "yes" or "no" or "yes, but only when there's a break in the conversation".

It's exactly the same with online meetings. Well, except for minor differences due to the nature of the medium, like the fact that you can (usually) enter and leave an online meeting without making any sound, but you cannot talk to people sitting next to you without everyone hearing you (unless you PM them, of course). But mostly it's the same.

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If you use Teams, use chat feature.

In my company, usually the conversation will stop briefly to acknowledge someone joining in. However, there are times when the participants are many and it's simply not possible to pause to do this for every person.

We have developed a habit to use chat for asynchronous/delayed communication and 'whispers'. In fact, chat is usually ignored until the conversation reach a natural break point, or a person - usually the host or the current presenter - notice a question or information that need to be 'aired'.

Note: this is assuming you and (most) everyone can access the chat.

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