In the two years since Sonus Networks rolled out Microsoft Lync, a computer-based platform for desktop application sharing as well as video communications, company vice president and CIO Bill Scudder and his colleagues have had plenty of opportunities to use it.
Following certain protocols makes meetings more efficient, effective and enjoyable, Scudder has found. For large meetings, company officials use moderators to handle questions. They advise participants to use functions like Lync's "do not disturb" feature to prevent meetings from being electronically interrupted.
And they encourage virtual adoption of real-world meeting etiquette: Start with introductions, avoid side conversations and multitasking, guard against interruptions from cell phones and other devices, and remind attendants to mute their lines if they want to type notes or absolutely need to talk on the side during the session.
All that makes sense to Senning, the digital etiquette expert: "Basic social courtesies are just as important to observe when you're doing a virtual conference as a [face-to-face] meeting, so make sure you think about how your behavior will be perceived," Senning says.
Finally, Senning offers a particular caution for employees logging into a video call from a remote office or, even more fraught, a home office. "When you're on a videoconference, your image is part of your professional representation," Senning reminds remote participants. That means no barking dogs or squabbling siblings, so find the mute button and be ready to use it. And ditch the bathrobe and board shorts — your attire, like your surroundings, should match the tone of the meeting. Check yourself not just in the mirror but on the device you'll use to join the conference, he advises.
Then get ready to make eye contact and smile. After all, you're on camera.
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