Proper online meeting etiquette

Tuesday, June 26 2012

As video conferencing becomes more ubiquitous, many professionals are looking for the best ways to adapt to the new medium. Although it has many similarities to traditional meetings, there are a few noteworthy differences.

In order to ensure that you are up to speed on the latest etiquette and expectations for online conferencing, here are a few tips for what to do - and what not to do - in an internet meeting.

Minimize the multitasking
Although many of us are used to checking email or surfing the web during phone calls, it is important not to do this during an online meeting. In addition to the obvious problems this could create during the meeting - being unprepared to answer a question or appearing distracted - it could also cause your computer to run more slowly or even crash. Treat it like any other meeting, which means paying attention and focussing on the speaker.

Don't ignore your surroundings
Just because you are conducting or participating in an online meeting doesn't mean that your actual surroundings cease to exist. Make sure you're aware of what's going on around you, because you are not the only one who will be affected by it. Close doors, inform people nearby that you are in a meeting and avoid busy and loud settings. Understanding how the other participants will experience your surroundings is integral to making sure you are a thoughtful participant.

Know what's available to everybody
Being aware of how other participants are engaging in the meeting is important. Not everybody necessarily has the same access you do, so be careful what you call attention to. If you refer to a visual aid, such as a Powerpoint presentation or a graph, make sure that everyone has see the video content.

One way to avoid such an embarrassing situation is to provide all participants with the necessary information beforehand. Something as simple as sending an email with all the attachments you will be referring to can help keep everybody on the same page.

Sync carefully
It's important to make sure that your audio and visuals are well coordinated. If you are discussing something that is not yet on the screen - or has already disappeared - your audience will be confused. If you are trying to synchronize these elements in real time, it's best to preview them fairly exhaustively beforehand.

Many businesses are turning to web conferencing as their primary mode for holding meetings. Therefore, it is imperative that you incorporate these techniques and etiquette practices to ensure that your meetings are as effective and professional as possible.