The use of audio and web conferencing as an alternative to face-to-face meetings is a growing trend amongst small businesses. Conferencing has become cheaper than ever – and the flexibility of using these services makes them a great business tool and an attractive way to get the most out of your time and money.
Getting comfortable with audio or web conferencing etiquette can be daunting. How do you drive the meeting to ensure that time is used effectively and that everyone, including important customers or stakeholders, walk away with a clear sense of direction and progress?
Features such as participant polling and line muting for individual or groups of participants can help to provide a professional and structured virtual meeting. With technologies like the above gaining interest in the business world, it’s vital to understand the etiquette in order to make a good impression. Below are some etiquette tips to keep in mind when holding your next virtual meeting:
Treat it like a face-to-face meeting
The person on the other end of the line – or screen – cannot see you, but it helps to treat the meeting as though it was a face-to-face interaction. Not paying attention can and will show up. So switch off or minimise your email, mute your phone and minimise or close all unneeded windows on your screen.
If you are hosting the web conference, make sure to switch off your instant messaging program and new mail desktop alerts. A personal email popping up on the corner of your screen during a web conference with 10 important customers does not look professional.
Set an agenda
Set an agenda that is agreed upon and distributed to attendees prior to the meeting. This is particularly important when there is no face-to-face contact, as it will help to promote discussion amongst all the relevant parties and ensures that all topics and meeting goals are covered.
If you are the host of the conference, outline the agenda at the start of the conference as well as after. This gives you the opportunity to capture any feedback that may have been missed and set up separate offline discussions if required.
Eliminate other disturbances
How many times have you been on a conference call, straining to hear the host speaking above background chatter or noises from someone on another line who hasn’t muted their phone? Ensure that you are in a quiet surrounding – either book a meeting room if you work in an open plan office, or schedule the call at a time when your colleagues are likely to be out of the office.
If you are hosting the conference, make use of the available features from the conference provider, such as muting all participants during the presentation and un-muting during discussions. Using the mute function on the conference service, as opposed to the phone will ensure no music is played into the conference.
Encourage questions and seek feedback
With the lack of visual cues, it may be difficult to gauge audience interest and participation. In logical breaks during the meeting, such as after each agenda topic, make sure to pause and gauge the audience’s interest, the relevance of the discussion and the direction in which the conference is progressing.
Some questions you can use include:
– Does anyone have questions before we move on to the next slide?
– How does everyone feel so far? Is there anything outside of the agenda that you feel we should also focus on?
Even in a prosperous economic climate smaller overheads and increased productivity can only be better for your business. Technology such as audio and web conferencing can help you to maximise your invested time and drive your business efficiency. Budget Conferencing offers pay-as-you-go audio and web conferencing that requires no contracts, no software, no set-up costs and no monthly fees.
For a limited time only, Budget Conferencing is offering Dynamic Business readers a five-day trial with 100 minutes of FREE audio conferencing. For full details of the promotion, please visit the website.
– Zoe Fraser is the marketing manager for Budget Conferencing (www.budgetconferencing.com.au).
People who read this, also liked:
Using teleconferencing to reduce costs and improve productivity