So many of us are spending our lives skipping from one online video call to the next – from family get-togethers, formal events, funerals, wine and gossip nights to important work meetings and networking groups.
With all this traffic in the online space it’s no wonder that we are starting to come unstuck. I’ve got to tell you there are a few things that are driving me mad about online courses, meetings and webinars. Here goes:
- Keep a reign on your name! I recently attended a networking online event where one of the activities was to change our name to our pet’s name. Just for fun – as a conversation starter. So, I changed mine to Beef in honour of the nickname for our chunky black and white cat. Unfortunately, I forgot to change it back at the end of the session – so when my son attended his online classroom his name came up as Beef. He now has a new nickname at school! Be mindful folks – this could cost a lot in therapy in future!
- Do you really want the world to think you are R2D2? When you’re on Zoom make sure that your name isn’t your email address or an embarrassing random username with letters/number.
- I also love knowing how many people will be attending specific events. I don’t need exact numbers but a general idea if I’ll be one in a 100 or it will be a more intimate online meeting.
- Waiting room etiquette. Please tell your audience if there will be a waiting room and that you will be letting them in when everybody is present. There’s nothing worse than arriving on time and wondering where everyone is. I mean they don’t even provide magazines in virtual waiting rooms! It’s always nice to be greeted by a well-worded message welcoming the newcomer and letting them know when the meeting will commence.
- There’s nothing worse than landing in a Zoom room and wondering what the protocol is with introductions. It’s like being thrust in to a cocktail party where you don’t know anyone and there are no beverages on offer. Imagine you are at a ‘real event’ where people have just walked into a room. Try and make them feel comfortable. If you are attending a large course no-one will expect introductions but if it is a networking event or a small group, you may ask people to briefly introduce themselves.
- Do I need to fix my hair and wear lippy? Tell your invitees if they are going to be muted or if their camera will be on when they enter the room. With hairdressers and beauticians closed personal appearance has taken a bit of a backseat for many of us. It’s always reassuring to know whether you can get away with your comfy clothes or whether a jacket and statement jewellery will be expected.
- Will there be an opportunity to participate or is it more like a lecture? It’s always nice to know what the session is going to be like before the webinar i.e. if there are ‘rules’ and whether there will be time to ask questions and how they should do this.
- How to look like a pro. Make sure you set aside time to practice with your friends how to share your screen and how to do clever things like putting people into breakout rooms (please don’t leave them languishing in these rooms for ages – it’s not a naughty corner!) Don’t forget to pop in and let them know when they can expect to re-join the group.
- Keep everyone in the loop! Try to find a system or online platform*, where you can make announcements. There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of an online webinar when something happens and you have no clue what’s going on. Is it your computer, your internet or is the technical issue on their end?
- Let attendees know at the beginning whether or not the session will be recorded and how they can access it. It’s great to know that they will be able to revisit the event later in case something unforeseen happens (the plumber arrives, the WIFI crashes or the dog chokes on a piece of Lego).
- Children and animals. I’d love to say ensure they are locked out; however, spending almost 2 months at home working and attending many online meetings and events, I must say I haven’t been able to have 1 meeting when either my son or one of the animals have not disturbed me. Especially when I close the door – a signal to my son to come in and ask if he can have chocolate for breakfast or play outside in the rain. So, on this one, I’m quite lenient and actually feel relieved that others have the same issues too.
We’ve all adapted pretty well to using this technology to provide an alternative to face to face meetings, webinars etc. In future I think we’ll continue to use online video conferencing to save time and money. It makes sense, therefore, to use this time to polish our skills in this area so that we can become proficient in this medium. Hopefully when we return to our usual workplaces, we will have perfected our use of this medium and will be able to fly through the online world without a hitch.