How’s your “Teletiquette” in Virtual Meetings?

By: Jude Carter

Virtual meetings have become indispensable, saving companies time and money. They’re a great way to connect with far-flung sales forces and mobile workers. Yet the virtual format, whether it’s video or teleconference, presents its own unique challenges. Take employee communication, for example.

Back when people had to get on a plane to make a meeting, or be face to face with their boss and/or peers, it was assumed that you’d show up prepared and actively engage in the meeting. If you hadn’t done the work, (or were recovering from a rough night), it was immediately obvious.

Today it’s another story. Virtual meetings are fast replacing face-to-face formats. Often with internal communication, there is no video component, so we’re relying on verbal communication to carry the day. That means:
· It’s very easy to hide out and not say much, especially if you’re not “called upon” by the facilitator
· It’s also easier to be much more vocal and opinionated than you might normally be if you were in the same room.
· The mute button makes it all too easy to multi-task. (The boss won’t know if you’re on your treadmill, right?)

“Teletiquette” works both ways. Whoever is leading the meeting sets the tone. As managers, we need to be very aware of the messages we’re sending…both directly and indirectly.
· Setting expectations as to the agenda, timeframes and desired outcomes tells attendees that you’re serious and you respect their time.
· Checking your Blackberry or eating your lunch while running the meeting sends the opposite message.
· Understanding the limitations of the format by keeping meetings short and checking in with employees will help to keep everyone engaged.

So, please, no snacking on potato chips during the meeting and don’t forget, it’s about a dialogue, not a monologue…even if you can’t see anyone else!

Sharon Toelle
October 4, 2010

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