Today, it is increasingly common for people to work from home. As such, more and more business is being conducted online through webinars, conference calls and virtual meetings. Much like in-person meetings, there are best practices and etiquette for doing business in an online or teleconference environment. Attendees should be familiar with a standard of behaviour that will enable these meetings to be enjoyable and productive. Here are some generally accepted standards for webinar and conference call etiquette:
- Be punctual. It is important to log on at the right time and show up even a couple of minutes early for an online meeting. Not only do you run the risk of interrupting the presenter if you are late, you may also miss important information. By giving yourself a few minutes to log on, you also give yourself time to navigate the technology involved in using the conference call and webinar system, especially if it is one with which you are not thoroughly familiar.
- Mute your mic and turn off your webcam. If you are not expected to be an active participant during the meeting, be sure to turn off your webcam and mute your mic. As much as possible, make sure you are in a quiet area. There is nothing worse than hearing extraneous background noise during a conference call when people are trying to focus on the presenter and the information at hand.
- Speak concisely and ask pointed questions. Online meetings are focused and so should any interaction between participants. Try to avoid wasting time with lengthy introductions and try to avoid unnecessary self-promotion if the session does not call for it. If you have a question about the material, think about the most concise way of asking your question. If you have a comment or opinion, ask yourself if sharing your viewpoint will help others on the call.
- Use chat rooms sparingly. Often webinar technologies will include a chatroom or ‘side-chat’ feature. This functionality can be helpful for clarifying points among participants or acknowledging or addressing extensions of the main conversation. However, chat rooms should not be used as a ‘water-cooler’ or social area where irrelevant talk can disrupt the presenter or other attendees.