Friday, 27 February 2015

Meeting etiquette - online / phone meetings

As a follow up to my Beginner’s guide to meeting etiquette blog, Stuart Rance asked for thoughts on online / phone meetings.

We don't want meetings like this, do we?

So, where to start?  Well, again in no particular order :

  • If you are arranging the meeting send everybody the correct method to connect to the meeting.  Check that it works before sending it. Preferably send it in a meeting invitation and not in a separate email. That will get lost.
  • If you are sending out details for a phone conference ensure you have sent out the attendees code and not the chair’s. Likewise, make sure you have the chair’s code otherwise the meeting goes nowhere.
  • *Addition 4/2/16 - Mark Smalley suggests a good chair in this blog

  • Check that you have the means to use the methods provided, as soon as you receive them.  It is frustrating for all, to have attendees turning up at random periods after the start time because their phone / tablet / laptop / computer couldn’t use the appropriate technology for the meeting.
  • If you are attending a phone conference, have the attendee’s code recorded outside of your calendar. Otherwise you will find it very difficult to find it, copy it and type it in to your phone if you are doing it all on your mobile.
  • Say your name, if requested, when you join the call. That reduces the continual “Who just joined” / “Have we lost someone or has someone joined” / “Is Bob here?” discussions that take over the first 10 minutes of any conference call.

  • I think it would be fair to say that standard meeting rules apply, as it doesn’t really matter what forum the meeting is in, it is still a meeting.  However, turning off electronic devices may be difficult due to the way you access these meetings. You should however, not carry out other work in the background.  Your lack of attention WILL be found out.
  • If the meeting involves webcams, try to sit where there will be the least amount of distraction behind you.
  • Turn up a few minutes early. Test your connection. Have everything ready so that at the agreed time, the meeting can start.
  • Mute your phone / microphone when you are not talking.  Other people do not want to hear your background noise, whether it is builders,children, animals, emergency services sirens, office chatter or anything else.
  • Ideally have the meeting in a separate room, whether a meeting room at work, or a quiet room away from distractions at home. Unless you know your co-attendees very well, they probably don’t want to be part of your family during a meeting.

Other than all of that, online / phone meetings can be a great and efficient use of everybody’s time and can reduce cost.  Make good use of them and enjoy any free time it creates for you.

Let me know what else should be part of meeting etiquette. Let's change this meeting filled world!