There’s nothing more annoying than attending an online presentation or meeting and not being able to get anything out of it because the presenter or fellow attendees are unprepared or unfamiliar with how to behave in a formal, online environment.
“Good webinar etiquette, like good online etiquette in general, keeps doors open to better communication, greater mutual respect and greater efficiency,” said Laura Lowder who coordinates annual online writing conferences via webinar for the Catholic Writers Guild.
Webinar etiquette is not particularly different from the rules of conduct for any meeting or presentation, but they do have a slight twist to accommodate the online media. These are 10 of the most important (yet sometimes forgotten) rules of webinar etiquette.
If you are presenting
- Test the software early. It’s frustrating for everyone if the presenter needs to pause the webinar to load an app to let them screenshare or update slides, or to mess with their mic because of feedback. Take time before the webinar to test out the tools.
“A presentation will go a lot more smoothly if the presenter has a nodding acquaintance, at least, with the software. You won’t be as effective if you’re fiddling around or interrupting yourself to ask questions about the program,” Lowder said.
- Slow down. Watching a webinar is different from conversation, especially if you are using slides and the listeners don’t have physical cues to follow your conversations. Slow your speaking speed if you naturally speak fast. If you are doing a demo, pause between steps to allow for lag time your viewers may have.
- Do not read your slides. Slides should be simple, with bullet points and graphics that support your lecture. Slides that are overly wordy distract the viewer from what you are saying; alternately, reading your slides makes your webinar no more effective than simply sending out a report.
- Use graphics to illustrate your points. “The brain stores audio information differently than visual,” said Delanda Coleman, senior product marketing manager, Skype for Business at Microsoft. “Therefore, if you can use images such as pie charts, rather than a lot of words, you give your audience visual cues to help them retain information.”
- If, in addition to the webinar broadcast, you are in front of a live audience and take questions or comments from the audience, do not assume your online viewers can hear them. Repeat the question or comment before replying.
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