Digital Meeting and Webinar Etiquette
Know the Forum
The differences between a meeting and a webinar may be subtle but the practices vary widely. Meetings may require some level of participation, may be less formal, or may have far fewer people. However, a webinar is usually less participatory, more content oriented, and more formal. The differences between these meetings will affect the expectations of the participants.
Meetings, forums, and webinars have different expectations from their participants. Webinars and meetings may require RSVPs ahead of time or there may be an expectation to bring certain materials. All of this information should be listed in the meeting description and it should be acknowledged by the participant. The best way to manage expectations is to know the forum and anticipate the guidelines.
Test your Tech
Screen sharing, lighting, sound, backgrounds, and a secure connection are all elements that have an impact on the presentation of a meeting or webinar. Any one of these elements failing to function can have an impact on the quality of a presentation or meeting. Quality sound and lighting are as important as the shirt attendees choose or the background applied to the session. Audio should be audible but not overwhelming. Participants and hosts can check the microphone settings in their respective software to ensure adequate sound. Lighting should come from the front of the subject and should avoid casting harsh shadows. Lights placed too close to the subject can highlight flaws or cause the subject to wash out and become less visible.
Backgrounds should remain relevant, subtle, and consistent. Distracting backgrounds can detract from the meeting as a whole and attract unwanted attention. Additionally, check camera angles before the meeting session begins. This is to ensure that the subject is visible, audible, and presentable during a presentation or meeting. The camera should be at eye level or above directly in front of the videographer or subject. Low angles, wide angles, and shooting from an odd angle can create unflattering lighting and angles.
Furthermore, consider if the camera should be on at all. Turning the video presentation on and off repeatedly can be distracting and unprofessional. However, consider turning the camera off if attention is being taken away from the meeting or if there is an unexpected emergency. These steps can help participants avoid seeming rude to hosts.
Keep Audience Attention
Beyond the prepared material there are several ways that attendees may become distracted. There are several practices to limit distractions in digital meetings: mute all participants on entry, maintain screen control and avoid noisy activities. Participants can avoid working in other tabs, engaging in other activities and having side conversations. Participants can also practice muting themselves when they are not speaking.
Using the chat function is an excellent way to keep attention, avoid distractions, and share information. Participants should avoid using the chat to have side conversations or using it for self promotion. Hosts should monitor the chat to ensure that attendees are staying relevant.
Appropriate Follow Up
Most meetings have moments that merit a follow up. Attendees may be sharing their information in the chat or asking follow up questions. For hosts, checking the chat record for information and contacts may provide great data to share, store, or follow-up on. Attendees may monitor the chat for leads, contact opportunities, or other information.
Last Minute Checklist
- Know the forum
- RSVP if necessary
- Follow the meeting guidelines
- Test the internet connection
- Check the Audio
- Check for even lighting
- Check camera angles
- Choose the background carefully
- Mute attendees while presenting
- Avoid being a distraction
- Use the Chat function to share, or find, contacts and information
- Follow up with the hosts or attendees