A Guide to Webinar Etiquette
Welcome back to our third and final part in this mini-series regarding Virtual Meetings or Webinar Etiquette.
Simply attending a webinar or virtual meeting is easy enough (although hopefully, my previous two posts have shown there is still quite a lot to consider when presenting yourself online); you are a passenger, right, able to just sit back and watch? All the setting up, including tech logistics, availability of guest speakers and invitations, are all someone else’s problem; somebody else has the controls and steers the meeting.
But what if you are the Captain of HMS Zoom? What do you need to do to ensure as successful a webinar meeting as possible can take place? Hopefully, this final post will help you, find a favourable course, navigate your way through and avoid any potential icebergs!
If you are HOSTING a Zoom Meeting or Webinar…
1 – This is super important … Don’t forget to EAT beforehand. Hosting a webinar meeting with lots of attendees can be highly demanding and energy-draining. You are multi-tasking on a new level and your concentration must be at its best – you will need the energy. If you are running an evening webinar, then it’s super important to grab a bite beforehand, or you will end up slouching lower and lower in your chair and your attendees will see that you are shattered.
2 – I can’t believe I have to say this, but dress appropriately for your webinar. Unless you are a surfer, providing online surfing instructions – NO T-SHIRTS, and brush your hair! I’ve attended various webinars and the degree of varying attire really does denote professionalism and credibility as well as whom I’m most likely to go back to.
3 – If you are co-hosting, do a practice run in advance to iron out any potential glitches re: presentations, sharing screens etc. Also, discuss and decide who will be responsible for the attendee logistics. i.e. who will be admitting attendees, managing comments/questions etc.
4 – If you are WFH and have family in the house and don’t have the luxury of a dedicated office with a door, then be sure to remind them that it’s a good idea to be clothed in case they end up being famous for the wrong reasons.
5 – Upload a virtual background to Zoom or Teams. Either a simple poster of your logo or your portfolio works brilliantly; use that as a backdrop to hide the messy desk and moth-eaten fern that you keep meaning to water.
6 – Don’t discount the importance of good lighting and camera angles. If you are running an evening event, then consider a selfie ring light and a virtual background with your logo / portfolio for a professional feel.
7 – Avoid multi-tasking like attending to incoming text messages or emails. Your attendees can see you doing it and if they have showed up, then they deserve your full attention.
8 – Manage your participants in your webinar. To mute everyone, click Manage Participants and select Mute All. Or click ALT+M. You can also enable Mute Upon Entry in your settings to keep noise at a minimum during large classes or meetings.
9 – At the start of your webinar, give the attendees a brief synopsis of what is going to be happening and how long it will take. If Q&A is going to happen at the end, then say so. However, if you want attendees to share their questions in the chat facility, then let them know to do so and you will come back to them.
10 – Use poll questions in your webinar. This helps to draw back the attendees’ wandering attention (no offence to you the host, however, for some folks it can be really hard to remain utterly focused on the subject at hand) and the feedback can be a fun interesting result. Prepare your poll questions in advance on the Zoom online portal.
11 – If the internet is playing up – say so. It happens – it is the vagaries of the internet. Some attendees can get easily frustrated if they feel like they are missing out.
12 – If the attendee’s voice sounds as though they are screeching like a banshee or talking v e r y s l o w l y under water, then suggest they tweak their microphone or turn off their video on their side to minimise the strain to the broadband upload on their side.
13 – Schedule in a loo (or even coffee) break when you are running longer sessions. I forgot to do this for several earlier Zoom webinars and assumed that folks would just head off and return as needed. However, the feedback was that they didn’t want to miss out on anything important. Oops, my bad.
14 – If you are giving a presentation or sharing a PowerPoint then… please, please, please do NOT read your presentation notes. There is nothing more mind-numbing for the attendees than to listen to the host read out copious notes and stats and it’s almost impossible to retain anything said. Have a few bullet points to remind yourself of your key points and talk as though you were in the room with them. Have you ever attended a live seminar and the host read the entire seminar, rather than chatted to and engaged with you?? So why would you make your attendees suffer the same fate?s
15 – Avoid information overload with your attendees. Do a dry run with someone who will give you honest feedback and see if perhaps the seminar / presentation is providing the right amount of information or… should it perhaps be broken down into 2 or even 3 seminars. For example, Beginners, Intermediate, Advanced sessions. If you are providing too much information, your webinar attendees will suffer from information overload ….and … you will most likely over run your one hour session. This shows that you are not valuing either your time or the attendees’ time and they all have things to do as well.
16 – Lock the Meeting! I’ve only just learned about this and it’s my absolute new favourite tool. It means that providing you have let all your attendees know that the meeting will be locked at 11.01am, then A. your attendees will make a better effort to arrive on time and B. you won’t have the distraction of letting in the late-comers, keeping track of text messages with late notices and… your meeting will start on time! OMG, I wish I’d know this tip at the start of 2020!
And that brings my mini-series on webinar etiquette to a close. I do hope that the posts have been useful – even if it is only flagging up one thing you may not have considered or sharing a useful tip or short-cut.
In this brave new world of ours, online webinars will never replace face-to-face interactions, but it is now yet another opportunity to be seen and to showcase who you are and what you do. Remember first impressions count – so be organised, be calm and be professional.
I wish you all well in your webinars and virtual meetings and in the meantime, keep checking our Events Page upcoming workshops, webinars and Brunch guests and my blog will continue to post more insights into innovative products, creative companies and interviews with fascinating people.
And if you missed out on Part 1 or Part 2 of this mini-series, then you can catch up here.
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