Web conferencing has become increasingly popular in recent years. Business owners these days recognize its many well-known benefits, including decreased travel costs and the ability to watch employees’ delighted, eager faces as you give them their next assignment.
To maximize these benefits, a little preparation goes a long way. Ben Franklin said that, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Taking care of some prerequisites before your web meeting helps to prevent a cyberspace calamity.
Like a Good Scout, “Be Prepared”
First and foremost, learn how to use the web conferencing application and thoroughly test your computer, microphone, and web camera prior to the meeting. Make certain that all attendees have downloaded and tested any required applications and drivers. Drivers and plugins may need to be installed for expanded features, such as screen sharing. This prevents any awkward “I can’t get my mic to work!” texts during precious meeting time.
Still afraid of a snafu? Arranging for an IT technician or a rep from the web conference company to be on hand could save the day the first few times you use a service.
Wireless connections are convenient, but they are not recommended for web conferencing. Bandwidth on WIFI can fluctuate considerably and result in interference and erratic connections. Wireless modems can be subject to interference from appliances that operate on the same frequency.
Got people connecting from cellphones or other wireless devices? That’s fine – just avoid HD video conferencing and other bandwidth-sucking features.
E-Etiquette Dos and Don’ts
When you are sitting in front of a computer at home, it is sometimes easy to forget that you are attending a video business meeting and cannot pick your nose. To avid this sort of faux pas, think of an e-meeting just like a face-to-face meeting and act accordingly. Here are a few things to watch out for.
Sweet Silence: Remove all distractions during the conference – that means no television or music blaring in the background. If you are getting background noise (someone decides now is a good time to saw down a tree, for example), mute your microphone.
Punctuality is Prudent: George Bernard Shaw said, “Better never than late.” It is always best to log into the web conference a few minutes early in case there is a connectivity problem. This also projects a positive image to your colleagues, and more importantly, your boss!
Image is Everything: Even though you may be connecting from home (or even your cottage), you should dress as you would for a face-to-face meeting, be that business or business casual. Maintain eye contact with the camera when you are talking, not the monitor.
Water or coffee is fine at a web conference, as in a business meeting, but eating is taboo. Many web conferences are recorded and you want to be remembered for your contributions to the meeting, not for your appetite.
Mind Your Manners: Would you text during a business meeting? Then don’t do it during an e-meeting, either! Protocol and expectations should be well-defined and conveyed to all participants prior to the conference. Web conferencing is not an informal activity, like some other forms of web communication (sorry, folks).
Maintaining good manners and etiquette during a business meeting projects a positive image. Give the web conference your undivided attention and focus on the discussion at hand as though you were in a boardroom.
Time Well Spent
When it comes to web-conferencing (or for that matter, anything else in life), careful preparation is always time well spent. Putting together a quiet, Ethernet-connected space, slapping on a button-down, and leaving the Cheetos for later will all help you make the right virtual impression.