Picture hosting a meeting online with executives and some of your top clients. Suddenly, you hear a loud burst of laughter which disrupts everything. You are informed by someone that you have something in your teeth. Seems you should have chosen a less messy meal while you were off camera, putting those finishing touches on your PowerPoint presentation.
It is extremely vital to have good etiquette during business meetings. The way you handle your manners at a meeting says a good deal about your business and its style of communication. While you may not be in the same room as who is meeting with you while conducting such a meeting, you need to behave as though you are. For this reason, you need to stick to the basic commandments below to succeed with your online business meetings.
Thou Shall Not Host From a Wireless Connection
Although it is true that now, more than ever, our world around us is turning wireless, when it comes to hosting a web based video conferencing meeting, a webinar or any other web based meeting, your results will be much better if you are "wired in" than if you are using a wireless network. Using a wired connection allows you to avoid spotty connections and fluctuations in bandwidth. Remember, too, that any other device that uses the same frequency as the wireless device can interfere with the connection. The least trouble you may encounter when using a wireless connection might be some disruptions here and there and the most trouble might be getting kicked out of your meeting altogether. If you are a guest to an online meeting, wireless should be fine, however when you are hosting, and looking to make the best impression possible, using a wired connection is the way to go.
Thou Shall Plan Ahead
Be prepared! One of the best race car drivers of all time, Bobby Unser, has this to say about Preparation: "Success is where preparation meets opportunity." If you aren't prepared when the opportunity comes along, you won't have the success. The same is true with online meetings and webinars. In order to make sure that your online meetings are as successful as possible, you must be prepared. The most important item to be prepared with is becoming as comfortable as possible with the web based conferencing software that you are using for your online meeting. Before the meeting, go through a test run; try out the microphone, the camera and any other feature that you will be utilizing, such as screen sharing, file transferring, recording, etc. Make sure that any documents and/or slides you are going to present are easily accessible. Have an agenda with guidelines that will dictate the flow of your meeting.
Thou Shall Remain Focused
Stay focused and do not forget that even though attendees are not in the same physical room, it does not mean that they cannot see you and hear all that you see. If you were at an in-office meeting, would you drift off and look out the window at what is passing by? No. You would pay attention to the speaker! This is how you must be for online meetings. You never know when your input will be required.
Thou Shall Maintain Eye Contact
This is a difficult rule to follow but always look at the camera while speaking. One of the hardest rules to using a web cam is remembering to look into the camera when you are talking. So often, speakers at meetings online will be looking at everything but their online audience. Keep your attention face forward and avoid looking at other areas of the room or your monitor.
Thou Shall Not Eat Food
Wait until the meeting is over before you eat. As you are speaking, avoid eating on camera. No one cares or wants to see that. If you do, your eating will become amplified on the microphone. You would not want to hear a presenter eating in your ear so be sure to eat ahead of the meeting or hold off until you can turn the feed off during a break in the meeting.
Thou Shall be Mindful of What you Wear
It can be tempting to go to an online meeting in your pajamas. However, you still want to behave just as you would in a face-to-face meeting. Wear professional clothing and be sure that it does not distract any other people in the meeting by being too bright. Pastel and neutral colors are best. Obviously if you are attending a webinar and will not be seen by anyone, you can wear whatever you want.
Thou Shall Not Forget That They are Online
Web based video meetings give everyone more exposure than a conference call does. Everyone can see reactions, from clients to employees and prospective customers. When you are in an online video meeting, act as though the camera is always on you so that you do not give off any unprofessional reactions or anything. Even if you are not speaking, act as though the camera is on you. Whatever the audience sees, even your facial expressions, can say a lot to them, so be sure never to forget you are online at all times!
Thou Shall Always Engage Their Attendees
Ask questions of your attendees. Get feedback from them. Engage with your audience by giving them polls or surveys. When web meetings are interactive there is less of a chance anyone will get bored and tune out. You can keep everyone interested by keeping things moving. Use visuals or videos where appropriate to liven up your meeting and also to stimulate your participants' minds.
Thous Shall Eliminate all Possible Distractions
When the meeting is on be sure everything else around you is off. Your cell phone ringer and text message sound alert, your television and other devices should all be silenced or turned off. It's not only embarrassing to have one of your devices make noise during an online meeting or webinar, it's also very distracting to other participants.
Thou Shall be On Time
If the online meeting is to start at 11 am, be sure to start it then. If you can, get everything connected and up and running a few minutes early. Tardiness can be a huge distraction in face-to-face meetings and the same holds true for online meetings. You can also use those extra few minutes ahead of the start time to make sure everything is working and that you have a solid connection online.
There are so many benefits to using online meeting and webinar solutions. This type of software makes it easy to communicate with clients, prospects, and employees. Online meetings can be very much like the real thing (often better) and they are a necessary part of today’s business communication. Always use your online meeting software properly and be professional, to pull off the perfect meeting.