Webinar Etiquette: Tips On Holding Successful Online Meetings

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In his international bestseller, “Tomorrow’s Lawyers: An introduction to your Future,” first published in 2013, Richard Susskind predicts that: “It is not that computer systems will replace all legal work by, say, 2020. Of course not. But around that time and from then on it will become commonplace across the legal profession for all substantial and successful legal businesses to be converting their business processes from human handcrafting to ever more sophisticated and capable technology-based production.”

The crisis at hand has been a catalyst to this “Rise of machines.” Evident to this is the unprecedented move by the Supreme Court of Singapore on Wednesday (May 13) where 115 lawyers were called to the Bar via Zoom.

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Some of these machines are disruptive while others are enhancing. The latter are those that support and enhance the way that a business or a market currently operates while the former fundamentally challenge and change the functioning of a firm or a sector.

From the foregoing,it can be construed that video conferencing tools like Zoom, Google hangouts and Skype among others are enhancing technologies. Increasingly, these video-conferencing tools(Apps) have gained acceptance in legal circles as most of the law firm business, legal education and other communications are being conducted via the platform.

From practice, however, the challenges posed by the use of these tools have made many to even classify it as disruptive technologies, from privacy issues to the utter lack of, what for the purposes of this article, I have dubbed “Webinar etiquette”. Well, as solving the privacy issues of these tools is up to the tech companies, the duty lies upon us to adopt basic webinar etiquette in order to improve our user experience.

Agenda before meeting

Stephen Covey captures the idea best in his: ” The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, ” when he says that: “ Have the end in mind. ” It is important for the host and the attendees to have a common understanding of the purpose, time limit and other necessary details of the meeting.

Even better, the host can consider sending emails to the members indicating the agenda and details of the meeting to keep it focused and effective. With so many distractions emanating from the work-from-home mandate, keeping the meeting as short as possible will be a prudent choice.

Time management

Remote communication has posed a challenge when it comes to making it on time for virtual meetings. It is etiquette to join the meeting room at least five minutes before the meeting commences.

Mute your microphone when not talking

The age-old etiquette of listening when others are speaking is no exception for virtual engagements. So once you enter the meeting room, mute your microphone and also find a quiet place without interruptions and background noise .No one is really interested in hearing the background “cockerels crow”. This, like in the physical engagements, can be a huge interruption to the effective flow of information to the other attendees.

Presentation Etiquette

For the person presenting, it is only wise that they get hands-on with the tech beforehand especially if they’ve never used it before. Holding trial sessions prior to the meeting has proven to be a helpful choice. The presentation should also nurture an environment where the meeting attendees are comfortable with exchanging ideas and information. To achieve this, an icebreaker to warm the participants is highly essential. The times are too sad not to crack an appropriate joke to spur some smiles.

Be aware that you are on a camera

Everyone is watching. Try to avoid venturing into other tasks not connected to the virtual meeting like checking on that email, combing through the phone and many other tasks that can disrupt you and those watching.

Ending the meeting

With complaints of network glitches making a huge part of most virtual meetings, it is important that a note-taker reviews the commitments made during the meeting by the participants. Distribution of the minutes either immediately or within 24 hours after the adjournment of the meeting can help bridge this gap. Notetakers can exploit the electronic note-taking options on the platforms and share accessible links thereafter.

Conclusion

One central realisation behind the adoption of the novel video conferencing tools has been the extent to which the work of the legal sector can be undertaken differently—more quickly, cheaply, and more efficiently.

Well, as the companies that own these tools have been mandated to ensure a worthwhile experience in operating these tools, we-the users- also have a duty of improving our user experience through the quick adoption of Webinar etiquette. This is to take a quick process of unlearning and learning the new ways, The quicker, the better.


 

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