Collaborating Virtually: Advantages and Etiquette

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As the VP of Administration, my role is to plan and execute the logistics of many meetings, conferences, and planning sessions. Hosting is essential to my everyday job responsibilities; however, in today’s business environment, being savvy in hosting virtual meetings is just as important. When deciding whether a meeting should be held face-to-face versus virtually, here are some advantages to consider:

Advantages of in-person meetings:

  • Participants are more engaged and focused on the meeting’s agenda
  • Clients prefer the in-person communication
  • Facilitates all the senses (e.g. body language, product demonstration, “touch & feel” of products, etc.)
  • Simplifies brainstorming or team building activities

Advantages of virtual meetings:

  • Reduction in travel (reduces costs associated with travel)
  • Can gather meeting attendees from multiple locations & time zones
  • Ability to record meetings
  • Instant access to internet to share files with attendees
  • Allows employees to work from home, increase in flexible work hours for staff

Virtual meeting etiquette is a thing

Not only is being astute to using the different meeting software important, but there are etiquette essentials for those attending virtual meetings. Everyone has been told since a young age, “You only get one first impression.” It’s natural when attending a business meeting on-site to remember to tuck in your shirt, buff your shoes, have a firm handshake. But don’t think that just because you’re sitting behind a screen you can throw everything out. This etiquette, if not practiced, can alter the overall effectiveness of the meeting for all attendees.

  • Mute yourself when not talking (this will limit background noise)
  • Turn off your notifications and sound on your PC so it will not chime every time you get an email
  • Be conscientious of typing on your keyboard
  • Keep your video on so others know you are present and engaged
  • Speak into your microphone and pause to allow others to engage
  • Utilize chat functions to facilitate questions from the audience
  • If some attendees are in-person and some are virtual, don’t forget those attending via web may not hear all the table conversation–be mindful to not leave out participants that are web based

When deciding whether to host a meeting in person or via web conference, it is important to consider multiple factors and situations that could affect the desired outcome of the meeting. If your end goal is to secure a new client, the client may be more inclined to listen to the sales pitch and commit if they have your full attention in person. A face-to-face meeting may allow you to sign important documents such as contracts. Some meetings that are internal to your organization or business may be more conducive to be held via web conference to limit time spent traveling and allow attendees from multiple locations to participate.

We have all been guilty of zoning out to web conferences, muting them, working on other emails, and even leaving the meeting prematurely. So, meeting coordinators and attendees: keep all the advantages and disadvantages in mind when planning your next meeting to ensure an overall productive time. And most importantly, even though a meeting can be easily arranged via web conference, some items can still be handled through an email!

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