Spotlight on: Online Workshop Etiquette

Posted on 23rd November 2022

virtual assistant, professional proofreader, professional proofreading, Zoom hosting support, admin support, admin services, business admin, virtual PA, Lincoln, Lincolnshire, Newark on Trent, Nottinghamshire, small business support, Zoom buddy, Zoom co-host

Do you ever attend an online workshop and intentionally leave your camera off for the whole session? 

I recently co-hosted a session that lasted a couple of hours. My client made it clear from the start that this was to be an interactive session and, as is usual in life, the more you put in, the more you are likely to get out. He asked for cameras to be switched on so we could see who was there (particularly when rejoining after the break) and for mics to be switched off unless speaking to cut down on background noise.

My client has put a lot into designing the session. It was engaging and informative. The feedback after the workshop was excellent. However, for most of the session, only about half of the delegates had their cameras on, despite a repeat of the request.

It must be really difficult as a coach if you feel that right from the start, you're trying to win over your participants without even being given a chance to be engaging. You must really feel like you're talking to yourself when you can see a screen full of black boxes, and getting the connection with delegates and the engagement from them must seem like an uphill battle.

I appreciate that not everyone is comfortable viewing themselves on-screen. I get that it can make you feel self-conscious. However, walking into a room full of people can make us feel self-conscious too, but we knuckle down and do it. 

I feel very lucky in my role as a co-host to hear such valuable content, yet I suspect those with their camera off are more easily distracted, and some of this can pass them by.

I completely recognise that sometimes technical problems (bandwidth, for example) or illness mean that this has to be the case, but the occurrence of this happening is greater than that.

So what can be done to mitigate this seemingly increasing issue?

✔ A couple of days before your workshop or meeting, send a quick video to the participants telling them what to expect during the session with a polite request for cameras to be on. It sets the expectation from the outset and gives the delegates an opportunity to think about their environment and background before they join.

✔ Take advantage of Zoom's feature where you can upload a video to the waiting room. It gives you an ideal opportunity to welcome your participants and to repeat the request that cameras should be on without it impinging on your actual session.

✔ If you're using a Zoom buddy or co-host, ask them to have their camera on. This sets the tone for the delegates. If hiring a co-host from outside your organisation, consider supplying them with a branded Zoom background so they're integrated into your team.

✔ Ensure that the first few people you let through the waiting room switch their cameras on before admitting the remainder. This not only reinforces that expectation but also allows you to give a warm welcome and make that all-important connection with your delegates.

What else? What has worked for you? Please send me a message with your tips!

If you recognise that you'd feel more comfortable with a Zoom sidekick to help out with technical issues, monitor the chat, set up breakout rooms, share their screen, and so on, please feel free to drop me a message .

Let's just have a chat and see where it takes us!

Edit: Another advantage of having a co-host came to the fore recently when a client had to leave one of a series of Zooms early. My role as co-host became that of host! Here's what she had to say:

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