A Guide to Webinar Etiquette
So here we are, facing a fresh new year and what a year 2020 was, and what a start to 2021. I don’t think any of us envisaged that this is where we would be, quite what we would be facing and how differently we would be working 12 months ago.
While I consider myself quite a techy person, even this year has been a steep learning curve for me in terms of discovering how to host online meetings with 20+designers. Never mind the post-production video editing. However, there is no getting around that as long as Covid remains with us, and perhaps even longer than that, we are moving even further into the age of digital marketing and online engagement. There is a sea change afoot.
Like you, I’ve attended a lot of webinars this past year… a LOT! I think I’ve hosted at least 40 myself, however, I’ve stopped counting now. And I will say that I learn something new every time. Now I really and truly hope I’ve not committed any faux pas; if I have, apologies, and hopefully one of you lovely folk will be sure to let me know… I think.
Having attended and hosted so many webinars over the past year, I have been witness to several instances that have definitely left an unpleasant taste. At some point I’ve definitely thought… “can I leave now?” Or… “Well, that’s 3 hours of my life I’m never going to get back.”
I’ve also attended brilliant webinars, where I’ve been left reeling thinking… Wow! That was so well organised! I want to know more! That was amazing! They were so funny; I’m definitely going to remember that!
And once again, if you don’t know what you don’t know, how can you be expected to run a successful event.
Therefore, I have put together A Guide to Webinar Etiquette, which I look forward to sharing with you in this and the next 2 blogs.
By understanding both sides of the event, this will only enhance your professionalism and add to your credibility, as you will come across as your complete professional designer self.
10 Tips for when YOU are ATTENDING a Webinar or Virtual Meeting
1 – Mute your microphone when entering the webinar meeting. If the host advises you can unmute and greet, then go ahead and then mute once again.
2 – To help keep background noise to a minimum, make sure you keep your microphone mute when you are not speaking.
3 – Be mindful of potential background noise, such as kids, pets, building noise etc. I once had a garbage truck backing up the street at a snail’s pace and had the windows open due to the summer heat. Suffice to say, the beep beep was rather distracting for me and no doubt annoying for my attendees.
4 – Treat the webinar as though you were in the meeting face-to-face sitting around a table. Turn ON your camera so the host and other attendees can at least see your face. You wouldn’t show up to a live meeting with a paper bag over your head. As much as you might want to stay in your jimmy-jams for a webinar, it makes for an extremely unpleasant meeting environment where only the host has their camera on, and the rest of the attendees are black rectangles on the screen. The same as if you were in person, the speaker reads off your expressions and interaction which helps drive a successful event.
5 – If, however, you can’t have your camera turned on for whatever reason, i.e. it’s not working or the broadband upload speed on your side is too low, then, if you can, show your face at the start of the webinar and let people know WHY you are turning your camera off.
6 – Upload an avatar (photograph of yourself) to Zoom, so that when your camera is turned off, at least the host and other attendees of the webinar have a reminder of what you look like. It also helps make you and them feel that you are still ‘in the room’ which is far more pleasant than the aforementioned “black rectangle”.
7 – Position your camera properly. Ideally this should be at eyeline. Be mindful that if you are using a laptop and the camera is at the bottom of the screen, the view is most likely going to be up your nose. You may want to think about a freestanding camera that is mounted to your screen or desktop for a more flattering view. OR… Put something under your laptop or find a way to set your phone or tablet so the camera is at the same height as your eyes.
8 – Think about your webinar backdrop too. Avoid the stack of dirty pots and pans in the sink in the kitchen, the row of empty wine bottles on the counter or your smalls hanging on the drying rack. When watching interviews on the news, how many of us are actually looking at the room behind the speaker as much as we are looking at the person themselves. It’s a peephole into your life and it all builds a picture or perception. Even if your house is in chaos and the K2 of ironing is in the corner craving attention, don’t let your audience know – present the elegant swan, poised, calm, in control.
We are after all interior designers: this could be an opportunity to showcase our own style! So try uploading virtual background options.
9 – Limit distractions. This means let your household know that you are not to be disturbed for the next hour. Turn your mobile phone onto silent.
10 – Prepare any materials in advance. For example, have your notepad and pen ready, rather than needing to go hunt for one in the middle of the meeting.
So, Ten Top Tips for Attending a Webinar or Virtual Meeting – a great starting point and many of these points are just as relevant when we are hosting a webinar. But I will come onto that in Part 3 of this blog…next up are the Don’ts…so obvious and yet so often forgotten. So check out my blog next week for What Not to Do in a Webinar or Virtual Meeting.
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