- Familiarize yourself – Nothing slows down a meeting faster than a host or presenter fumbling over the technology. Not only will it cause your participants to lose focus, but many will view it as a waste of their valuable time, making them less likely to attend your future conferences. A top audio and web conferencing best practice is to always conduct a few dry-runs prior to your audio conferencing, web conferencing, conference.
- Arrive on time – Schedule your virtual conference just as you would an in-person one – with prompt start and end times. Hosts should arrive in the conference room 10 minutes prior to the start of the conference to ensure everything is ready to go and functioning properly. And if you are setting up multiple meetings with participants in different time zones, it’s a good idea to establish a regular time zone for publishing audio or web conference times.
- Pick your place – Modern web conferencing services offer a wide range of features and options, including the ability to see all participants in real-time via webcams. However, even though these features are included with most conferencing services, many people – especially those working from home – choose not to utilize them. Whether you’re shy, self-conscious, or just plain stubborn, adding a video element to your conference allows you and your participants to convey facial expressions and body language – both of which go a long way in building and maintaining a stronger relationship with your participants.
In other words, turning on your webcam is more for those viewing you, than for yourself. Still feeling a bit hesitant? Conduct a few practice runs with family or friends. Also, to eliminate possible distractions, move to a quiet, low traffic area of your office, home, or wherever else you may be.
- Cultural consideration – International participants should be allotted additional time to reflect on the information being discussed as well as speak on it. University of New Brunswick associate professor, Dr. Andrew Gaudes, cautions against forming fault lines, which can occur when participants from the same facility or area collaborate more freely and effortlessly than those that are further away. Dr. Gaudes suggests making sure “that the language and norms being applied are universal and inclusive so that someone doesn’t feel disenfranchised or excluded.” This means things such as cultural issues and inside jokes should be avoided.