The past months have created a huge change in our working practices, meaning that colleagues are having to keep in touch with each other via webinar meetings.
What's the correct etiquette for this situation? Here are 10 top tips.
Prior to the virtual event
- Think about your outfit and dress accordingly. It only needs to be the top half, but it still counts. Think like a newsreader, avoiding busy prints, dots and stripes as they send the pixels mad, especially if you move around or fidget a lot.
- If you're going to have a drink, prep it beforehand in a company mug (for more advertising) or a really nice mug and don't eat - it's not pretty!
Just before the call
- Check the time of the call so that you're not late.
- Which brings me to the next one and the time you should turn up. 15 minutes early is recommended, to check that everything works and to iron out any tech issues.
- If you're asked to enter your name when logging on, please write your full name and company (if appropriate). If your name appears as 'Me', the other delegates will not know who you are (and yes, I've seen it)
During the call ...
- Although it's tempting, please keep your video on. We are conditioned to see people's faces and it's disconcerting to see a blank space. If you are having technical issues, then it's unavoidable, but it might be an idea to explain to the rest of the audience if it's necessary or you have an opportunity ...
- ... but mute your microphone. Extraneous noises like door bells or mobile phones are distracting. It's inevitable that when you turn your microphone on that something, somewhere will become very noisy, but try to minimise background noise by keeping the mic turned off when not actually speaking.
- This is my favourite: make sure your camera is at eye level. Looking at someone's forehead or up their nose is not a good look. And look at the camera whilst you're speaking. It's very easy to keep watching the audience because we're used to looking at faces, but all they can see is you looking elsewhere.
One useful tip is to make your webinar provider's window quite shallow and move it to the top of the screen. This will help to direct your gaze towards the top and close to the camera.
- And keep still. If you're on your mobile phone, don't wander around with it. I saw one presenter's entire appartment because they kept wandering around. It was very nicely furnished but should we have seen it?
- Once the camera is at the right level, minimise the screen that shows you. You invariably end up watching yourself and it's very distracting.
And a bonus tip or two ...
Try to look interested
- If the meeting is boring, don't get distracted by looking at other websites; you lose concentration. I've seen a TV personality completely zone out of a meeting and sends quite a negative message to other guests.
- Make sure your background is as tidy as possible. I've seen piles of laundry, toys, some rather strange art on the walls. Neutral is best. If you use one of the webinar backgrounds, time to keep still again. If you move around too much, we get glimpses of your actual background as the tech tries to keep up!
It's not easy being a webinar guest as we're not used to seeing ourselves when we speak. Using webinar tech does make it difficult to concentrate on the meeting and we start surfing the net, looking at ourselves, judging our own backgrounds and that of others, but hold yourself still and be interested in the meeting and you'll be the perfect webinar guest.