Online Webinar Etiquette

As we are adopting to the New Normal of virtually attending classes, seminars, webinars and much more, follows some tips and etiquette to have adhered. This is just a comprehensive list; much more can be added.

Early Attendance: Join the meeting or the webinar before 10 minutes of the start. Some conferencing software requires a download and install on your computer, and you want to give it time to take place. Even “instant-join” software may need you to update Flash or another underlying utility. Some conferencing software gives you better performance when it has time to cache upcoming slides on your computer for rapid access during the meeting.

Mute Audio: When logging into the meeting, ensure that you’re muting your microphone. Background noise can be distracting. If you aren’t sharing anything at the moment, go ahead and hit mute until you do. That way, no one has to listen to the car alarm that goes off in your neighbourhood or your neighbour’s perpetually barking dog. If your webinar host opens the phone or computer audio lines to let audience members speak, keep your phone muted whenever you are not speaking. This helps avoid unwanted background noises that can distract other participants.

Mute Video: When logging into the meeting, ensure that you’re muting your camera. When requested to join with video, provide that the Video quality is dramatically improved with more lighting. And don’t you want everyone to see your beautiful face, now that you’ve gone to all of the trouble to put on actual clothes and stuff? An extra nearby lamp is usually helpful. Just make sure the light is in front of you, not behind you – being backlit makes you harder to see.

Active-Participant: When the chance is provided, try to be as an active participant. Provide your inputs to polling questions. Respond to requests for comments or questions. Let your presenter know what you are most interested in. Don’t join the webinar and go for washing clothes or dropping your kids in school.

Be Respectful: Ask questions respectfully. Webinars are not the place to tarnish the people. If your webinar allows publicly-visible chat, keep your contributions helpful and considerate of the host and other participants. Arguing about or belittling somebody else’s comment is not productive. Instead, you can say that you have a different perspective or different experience, which extends the conversation rather than shutting it down. It’s also poor etiquette to compete with your host by advertising your products or services as an audience member. The host put time, money, and effort into gathering an interested audience. Don’t steal from them.

Environment: Check your surroundings before going live with your webinar. The atmosphere is the number one factor that people usually overlook. For a perfect webinar room, make sure it’s well isolated from external noises. You don’t want your webinar attendees to wonder about who they hear in the background or be disturbed by the noise from the street.

Lighting: In the video, as in photography, lighting is everything. It will impact how you look, the quality of the video, and how your organization/institute looks. The better the light, the more beneficial it will be. Also, you don’t have to invest in fancy equipment. Just pick a room with enough natural light coming in. Make sure that the source of light is not behind you to avoid backlighting.

Internet Speed: Everybody hates a lousy Internet connection. Especially when you’re live-streaming the webinar! Nothing is worse than having your bitrate drop, seeing participants complain that they can’t see your presentation well or can’t hear you well. Fortunately, you can also prepare for this by making sure your internet connection is stable and reliable throughout your webinar. Make sure you have at least 25Mbps (recommended) in download and upload. Connect with your ethernet port rather than Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is a wonderfully practical technology, but when it comes to reliable live stream video, you may want to go with an ethernet cable for the added stability.

Testing Mic & Camera: Check your mic and camera. Double-check if you are using an external mic or camera. Test your video and audio before your meeting at

Unwanted Chats: This is the online equivalent of talking in the back of the lecture hall – it’s disruptive. Especially, doing self-promotion or saying “Good Morning”, “Good Afternoon” or others is annoying.

Camera Management: Unless your appearance or background is very inappropriate or distracting, turn ON your video. Keep in mind that people aren’t just seeing you, they’re also seeing whatever the camera is pointed at behind you. Video is crucial in building trust and engagement in virtual communications. Don’t skip this step just because you don’t love the way your hair looks today. Looking at the camera takes a bit of getting used to since you want to look at the other participants faces (and, let’s be honest, your own face), but try to look at the camera when you’re talking. This tactic will mimic the in-person feeling of eye contact.

External Distractions: Barking dogs and slamming doors are not just annoying in person; they are also irritating via online platforms! Find a quiet space to meet, shut the door, and mute yourself as necessary.

Avoid Multitasking: Speaking of gross: have you heard any horror stories about people being caught picking their nose or using the bathroom while on a video conference, thinking they were muted or had their video off? Don’t become a statistic. Refrain from private behaviour – i.e. scratching your armpits, picking your nose. We can see you!

Dress Appropriately: Times are tough for those working from home and wearing sweatpants all day, every day is one of the few silver linings. But if you’re in a position where you can put on something more professional-looking, it’s probably a good idea. You might also find it makes you feel a little more reasonable. If you appear in the video, ensure that you are dressed appropriately.