We’ve all endured teleconferences rife with the late arrivals chime, connection drops outs, delays and echoes, and people talking over each other. If we’re really lucky, there may also be unexpected interruptions creating viral fame.
Of course, while there’s usually an element of acceptance with these foibles of remote collaboration, no one needs to become a trending topic because of teleconferencing.
Strategy Analytics predicts that 42.5 per cent (1.87 billion people) of the global workforce will be mobile employees by 2022. There’s not enough hashtags for that level of mobility, so following a few basic etiquette rules will lift your teleconferencing game to expert level.
Nominate A Chair For Meeting
Ever tried to watch a panel discussion where everyone talks over each other? Producers often mistake this for being ‘lively’. For listeners and viewers, it’s a dog’s breakfast. Have someone in charge. This person sets the ground rules at the start – no matter how obvious. They establish the agenda and speaker protocol, but mostly control discussion so it doesn’t go off topic and devolve to chaos.
Clothes are your friend. Don’t be this guy. Everyone thinks they can win the remote conferencing game by dressing in the equivalent of a mullet haircut: the top for business, the bottom for play. Mullets are bad, and getting busted not wearing pants will cast you as the sort of person whose browser is set to Incognito Mode by default. So, if you’re video conferencing for work, dress like you’re at work – high and low.
Mute, And Then Unmute
Keep it on mute when you’re not talking, then unmute it when you need to talk. Having the mute button activated means you can chew and slurp as loud as you like, have your email alerts go off, scream at the kids for being kids, send snaps or whatever you want, without the aural equivalent of poor hygiene. When you’re ready to impart some pearls of wisdom, you can unmute, introduce yourself, and make a contribution that will be talked about for at least several seconds, maybe even minutes – the world is your teleconferencing oyster.
Set The Scene
Take a moment to observe what others are seeing behind you. Does it distract from your amazing contribution? Sure little Ben’s finger paintings of Dante’s Seventh Circle of Hell are revealing, but maybe a bit distracting for any amateur critics who are also on the teleconference.
If you’re on the move during the teleconference, try and stop in a place that offers as few distractions as possible. Even the best TED talk can struggle to compel our attention the entire time, so minimise the opportunity for viewers’ attention to wander.
Don’t Set Up Too Many Hoops
There’s nothing more frustrating than checking your calendar a few minutes before your meeting and realising you don’t have the right plug-in. The clock is ticking. If it goes well, you may just have time to download the app and set up an account. If not, you’ll spend the first few minutes of the meeting updating the browser, testing the microphone and camera and finally barrelling into the meeting late and in a fluster. Make sure using your conferencing technology is a painless process.
This list of teleconference etiquette tips is far from exhaustive, but a few basic considerations in place can help keep things on course with minimal distractions. Remember, teleconferencing is a natural extension of an in-house meeting. The same rules apply from how to talk and when to talk, but it’s up to you to manage the flexibility of working remotely while maintaining productive professionalism.