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My company has started to use virtual meetings to synch up our global offices. As the manager of its exhibiting department, should I treat these meetings differently than live ones?


Sometimes known as video conferences, web conferences, and telepresence, virtual meetings allow people in more than one location to meet using a mix of video and audio technologies.

While they might seem the same as face-to-face meetings, they can lack important visual, aural, and other body-language cues. To compensate for their absence, I suggest following some basic rules of what's becoming known as "webiquette."

First, distribute an agenda for virtual meetings beforehand - and stick to it. When all participants share the same room physically, it's not necessarily disastrous to detour from the agenda, but in a virtual one, those who are off site can feel like others are sharing a joke they're not privy to. Second, perform a round of introductions between those who haven't met before, just as you would with unacquainted participants meeting in the same physical space. Third, if the video is at all sketchy, ask all the participants to identify themselves every time they talk.

Also, if any kind of physical object is being discussed - a report or a photo, for example - continually reference exactly what you're looking at so that everyone is literally on the same page. Last of all, recap often so that participants walk away from the meeting with a clear sense of what was discussed.

Dan Lumpkin is an organizational psychologist and president of management-consulting company Lumpkin & Associates in Fairhope, AL. E-mail your career-related questions to askdan@exhibitormagazine.com
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