Online/web meetings are good for your business. They can save you money on travel, boost communication between your customers and employees and even increase sales. With these greater rewards come risks: the chance that a misstep will cost your business a deal, or even worse, a customer. It doesn't have to come to that, of course. Here are five things you need to remember about online meeting etiquette that will help you avoid an unnecessary loss.
- Don't forget to pay attention. Not that there's going to be a test afterwards, but really—do you check your e-mail when someone is talking to you? Do you take calls on your mobile? Web meeting participants often mistakenly believe that because they are not in the same room as the other participants, they can engage in any number of activities. Moreover, if you take a snooze during a Web meeting, you could miss an important business opportunity. Do this: Minimise all of the windows on your PC—especially the one with all of your e-mail—and tell your colleagues that you are in a meeting. (Which, of course, you are.) That's particularly important if you're a speaker. Remember, you're setting the tone for the meeting, so even looking distracted can lead to disaster.
- Don't forget who the boss is. Whether you're leading a meeting of a dozen or several thousand, you need to keep in mind that you're not presiding over a democracy. Successful Web meetings require a good facilitator to promote the inclusion of diverse parties and to keep agendas and meeting goals focused. Keep the agenda very tight and on target. The designated facilitator should play an active role in keeping the participants involved and engaged. Create an itinerary and stick to it. If there are questions that can't be addressed within the meeting's time frame, you can always invite follow-up conversations by e-mail. (Of course, you can be polite about staying on track—a good moderator doesn't alienate the audience.)
- Don't forget about your real-life surroundings. This applies to you—whether you're a moderator or a participant. As both a featured speaker at Web meetings and as a participant, don’t type e-mails while you’re on the line (this will avoid other meeting participants hearing the clickety-clack of your keyboard), and make sure to turn your phone to silent. When preparing for a Web meeting, imagine that your office is on stage and that the "audience" is in the room. Don't say anything, wear anything, or do anything that you wouldn't in real life.
- Don't forget: It's still a Web meeting. One of the most difficult concepts for Web conferencing first-timers to grasp is that a Web meeting isn't a phone call. And it isn't an in-person meeting (although many of the same rules apply). There are a few new rules for Web meetings, and they must be learned. You have to communicate differently with a Web meeting. After each point, the presenter shouldn't just ask if there are any questions. Both presenter and audience are better served by asking specific questions that are more likely to inspire a direct and useful response from the participants," he says. "For instance, does anyone have a question about the 'x' feature?" Most of these rules are learned with practice, which should be done internally rather than with customers or prospective customers.
- Don't forget to synch the audio-visuals. During an in-person, non-virtual meeting, you can be forgiven for displaying the wrong slides or surveys on the wall (in fact, it's often expected). But with an online meeting, when participants sometimes have nothing else to look at, it's a no-no. Proper Web meeting etiquette requires that the content match the rest of the presentation. It's important to make sure that any presentation materials that are broadcast along with the conversation are used in connection with the actual topic being discussed. All too often, the images sent to the participants may not be relevant to the current topic being discussed. Knowing how important polls and slides are, you might consider assigning those duties to a dedicated person. That way, the moderator can focus on the content —and the A-V person can take a cue from him or her.
Learn how you can: Get real-time presence information—including photos, availability status, and location—and enhanced instant messaging (IM) to connect efficiently and effectively, Make voice calls through your computer to other Lync or Skype users in your business or in other organisations that use Lync or Skype, Create, moderate, and join pre-planned and on-the-fly audio, video, and web meetings with people inside and outside your organisation, Enhance online presentations with screen-sharing and virtual whiteboards. Learn How!
Read more helpful Tips & Tricks for your business.