Gone are the days when education dissemination was housed within a college or university campus; knowledge was shared with the limited, locally residing learners. Technologies such as video conferencing software and remote device connectivity application have made it possible for businesses, universities, colleges, test preparation centers and tutoring institutes to make seamless communication with their prospective and current employees, business partners, and students. Online conferences have made life easy for everyone as it helps connect people from around the globe at a convenient time and place.
Just like real-world meeting and collaborative sessions, virtual sessions have several social protocols, widely accepted as the expected behavior. You don’t want technical glitches or behavioral mishaps to cause unbearable inconvenience. Yeah, we are talking about that background chitter-chatter, that screeching echo, and many more. Such meetings may be video conferences, formal business meetings, webinar sessions, interviews and online lectures. We all, at some point, have been a part of such an interaction. Maintaining social etiquette while interacting in such online meetings are as important as maintaining them in in-person meetings.
Here are some tips for maintaining social etiquette while partaking in a video conference/ web conferencing as a speaker or a listener.
Business Meetings- Online
Whether it is for discussing a project plan or proposing a comprehensive solution to a potential client, formal video conferencing can have a major impact if done right. These online business meetings are usually two ways, and it helps to have a few established rules for communicating and behaving with each other across the screen.
- Clear your desk
Before jumping on a video call, always ensure that your desk is clear of any personal artifact or objects that are irrelevant to the meeting. This has to be standard practice before any meeting.
Business meetings are usually a serious affair and presence of random things on your desk while you talk to your potential business partner could be a distraction from the conversation.
- Background selection
Selecting an appropriate background is as important as cleaning your desk. A significant portion of the screen real-estate is shared by the background besides your body within the view of the web-camera. Instead of sitting in front of a flashy colorful wall decorated with graffiti or logos, prefer having a plain, light colored uniform wall as your background to ensure the focus stays on you when you are presenting. This also includes setting up of the VC. Be mindful of the position of the camera, lighting – ensure a clear visual so that others are not staring at your nostrils or the collars of your shirt.
- Have a clear agenda
Nothing could be more annoying than an awkward silence after the initial greeting during a formal meeting. Stating the objective of the meeting straightaway lets you stay in control of the meeting. This not only helps you achieve the desired outcome but also demonstrates virtues of confidence and commitment. You half already won half the battle. In case the business meeting is on reporting numbers, keep data handy.
- Speaking Etiquettes
A critical part of conducting a successful business meeting lies in the delivery of content. Also, your physical representation of your business — including your posture, your body language, and your attire speak volumes about your company.
At the beginning of the meeting let attendees know the appropriate way to interject or ask questions over a video conference. Keep in mind not to have a cross conversation, or speak when others are talking. Avoid posing open-ended questions, instead, address someone specific. At the end of the meeting, summarize and delegate action.
The trend of hosting online seminars for student outreach or conducting MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) using web conferencing software is not new. The repercussions of slipping while everyone is engaged in a webinar could break the popularity of any host. In a webinar or an online seminar, the interaction is mostly one way. Here the moderator may allow questions to be asked at the end of the webinar. Thus, it is imperative to minimize mistakes and approach such a conference with utmost sensitivity.
Nothing can be more off-putting than keeping an audience waiting. If, for any reason, the webinar has to be postponed, inform the audience as soon as possible and re-schedule the webinar to another more convenient time.
If you are the one being informed about the postponement of a webinar, ask about the rescheduling and keep a track.
- Rate of speech
Hosting a webinar is different from a group conversation. Attendees with different knowledge acquisition capabilities can find it difficult to understand the context and content if your rate of speech is more than what they can process. It is always a safe practice to slow down to ensure your words are not only heard but understood.
In case you are unable to follow the pace of a speaker, you may follow the protocol of asking questions as may have been outlined at the beginning of the session.
- Paraphrase questions before responding
Webinars usually end with a Q&A session. These Q&A sessions may sometimes result in some interesting conversations. Address all questions appropriately, by paraphrasing the problem and repeating to ensure that it conforms to its context before answering it.
If you are being asked questions that might be off topic, convey it to the participant politely and get the webinar on track.
You may use digital interviews for recruiting outstation candidates for your business or assessing students’ caliber to join your course, college or university. It will be a seamless process if you use an advanced video/web conferencing software. Here are a few social etiquettes for you to keep up your sleeve while interviewing online:
- No to one-way interviewsAn online interview is no replacement for a face-to-face interview but proves useful when candidates from across the world apply to your college or university. However, remember, it isn’t only you who gets to choose. A one-way interview[1
- Put away your phone
Being an interviewer puts you on leverage but using your phone while interviewing a potential candidate might not only seem rude but may disrupt the interview. Put your phone on silent to avoid disengagement with the interviewee.
- Stay uninterrupted
Make sure you are uninterrupted while conducting an interview. Being gate-crashed is not always ‘cute’ or ‘funny’ as the South Korean expert being interrupted by his children during a BBC interview was.
In an online video conference where students interact with other students on the other side of the screen is called peer-to-peer interaction. Peer-to-peer online conferences may be facilitated due to several reasons. Such as, they may be to conduct researches by an educational institution or for students to interact with their peers across the globe
Here are some peer-to-peer web conferencing etiquettes to follow:
- Find a suitable time
Fixing a time wherein all your students/learners could come online and participate in a group discussion could be challenging. Send out periodic reminders after setting a schedule to ensure the availability of students for the interaction.
- Ensuring peers set-up right
Prepare your students for the video conference by familiarizing them do’s and don’ts for a video conference. Email tips to students about the set-up quick run through their computers to check the webcam and mic placement and also how to interact with peers.
- Provide behavioral guidance
Peers may communicate with each other on discussion boards, e-breakout rooms and through live virtual classrooms. Devise a system where each student may get a chance to express himself/herself and explicitly set out expectations on the email as well. Students should be monitored for language use and abuse. The moderator – usually the teacher should have the rights to remove an unruly student from the live class.
Prepare your students for a brainstorming session. Guide them against trolling and spamming over chat or discussion groups (if access is given to them). In case of a diverse group discussion, advice your students to ask relevant questions backed up with facts, if possible. This would prepare them not only for an online peer interaction but would lay a foundation for future academic or formal meetings, too. Some students have a habit of typing in caps to attract attention. Discourage this practice. The language of communication must be specified at the outset of the video conference.
Besides the tips mentioned above, there are certain common social etiquettes that one must observe irrespective of the scenario while using a online conferencing software.
- Control facial expressions. While occasional smiling could provide positive reinforcement to the host and other attendees, it can also make the interaction awkward.
- Be an active participant in a group web conference and provide input. Do not in-terrupt someone until they are done putting their point forward.
- Keep the interaction professional, sure, but mild humor sticks with all partici-pants.
- Lastly, invest in a video conferencing software that provides you seamless con-nectivity and fulfills all your webinar hosting needs.
The purpose of an online video conference is to hold a meaningful, conclusive meeting. The importance of observing these social etiquettes is to ensure just that. Ace all your webinars, online interviews and group discussions with the combination of aforementioned social etiquette and thank us later!