Imagine hosting a web meeting with business executives and important clients; all of a sudden the meeting is interrupted by a loud echo of laughter. Not knowing what is going on, someone points out that you have a large piece of lettuce stuck in-between your teeth. You probably should have avoided eating a salad while you were “off camera” and showing your PowerPoint slides!
Having good manners and etiquette during a business meeting says a lot about your company and your business communication style. Even though you are not in the same room as those you are meeting with (while you are conducting a web meeting), you still have to act as if you are. Below are 10 Commandments for a Successful Web Meeting. If you follow them, you will be on your way to having successful online business meetings!
Thou Shall Not Use Wireless
Hosting or attending a web meeting while using a wireless connection is not advised. A wired cable connection is preferred. This is because wireless connections are very spotty and the bandwidth tends to fluctuate quite a bit. Also, any appliance that operates on the same frequency level as your wireless modem can cause interference with your wireless network, booting you out of the meeting.
Thou shall be prepared
Planning ahead and being prepared will help to guarantee your web meeting goes smoothly. Make sure you know how to use the web meeting software and that you test equipment such as your microphone and web camera BEFORE your meeting. Make sure you also have easy access to any documents or slides you will be using. Prepare an agenda; this way you have guidelines as to how the flow of the meeting should go.
Thou shall stay focused
Just because you are not in the same room as the other attendees, does not mean they can’t see and hear what you are doing. In the middle of an important office meeting, would you stare out the window at the cars going by, or would you pay attention to the presenter and be attentive? Well the same is true for a web meeting. Stay focused on the meeting; you never know when your input might be asked for.
Thou shall make eye contact
One of the hardest rules to using a web cam is remembering to look into the camera when you are talking. Many people tend to look at their monitor while in web meetings, making it look like they are not paying attention. All eye contact should be directed towards the camera, not on other objects in the room or your monitor.
Thou shall not indulge thyself in food
Try to hold off hunger until after your web meeting. You are on camera and no one wants to see what you are having for lunch. Even worse, remember you are using a microphone and sound is amplified. Who wants to hear you chomping and chewing in their ear? If you are going to pass out from thirst or starvation, mute yourself so no one will have to hear you and turn your video feed off if eating anything.
Thou shall watch what you wear
As tempting as it may be to attend a web meeting in your pajamas, you should dress the same as you would for a face-to-face business meeting. Avoid overly bright clothing that will produce a glare. Stick to pastels and neutral colors. Remember to wear professional attire that will not distract other people involved in the meeting.
Thou shall remember you are on video
The great thing about a web meeting is it provides the opportunity to see fellow employees, clients and prospects; something that a regular phone call doesn’t provide. You get to see their reactions to what you say. A good rule of thumb when attending a web meeting that involves video, is to assume the camera is on at all times, even when you are not speaking. Every move you make can be seen, so be careful. Even if you don’t speak, your body language and facial expressions will give off information about you, and your thought process.
Thou shall honor and engage attendees
Encourage questions to be asked and ask for feedback from your meeting attendees. Provide attendees with polls and surveys to participate in. By making your web meetings more interactive there is less chance of attendees getting distracted, losing focus or dozing off. Another good idea is to add visuals and videos to your presentation; it will help participants stay focused by stimulating their mind.
Thou shall eliminate all distractions
Turn off the TV, your Instant Messaging program, your music and any other applications that will take your eyes off the meeting. Pay total attention and focus on the discussion at hand.
Thou shall be on time
If your meeting is scheduled to start at 11am, then start it at 11am. It is rude to show up late during an office meeting and often distracts the whole progress of the meeting. The same is true for online business meetings. Show up on time, or even login a few minutes early, to make sure your equipment is working properly.
The benefits of businesses using online meetings are plenty. They provide a fast and easy way to communicate with employees, clients and prospects. Web meetings are a great substitute for face-to-face meetings and are becoming a vital part of business communication. By following proper professional procedures and etiquette, you can and will conduct successful online business meetings anytime, anywhere and with anyone.