Stressed out by online interactions? Here’s a netiquette guide to virtual events to help you figure it out

We have lost count of the new habits we have acquired over the last year. New ways of working, new priorities, new physical and virtual spaces in which to carry out all kinds of activities. Of course, some of the consequences of lockdown are dramatic, but there are also a few less serious and even amusing ones. Let’s think about virtual events and online meetings: in every office and every company there is that one coworker, sometimes even a manager, who just can’t cope with technology, who doesn’t know when to turn off their microphone, who can’t maintain the right demeanour, or shows up in a suit and tie, but then stands up and accidentally reveals their pyjama bottoms. In the course of virtual events, mistakes may not be so spectacular, but there are still some simple rules to follow. We have compiled a small netiquette guide to virtual events to help you figure it out.

1. Give your full attention to the other person, even if your webcam is off

When attending a virtual event, you may feel less pressure than you would in the office or a ‘physical’ venue. After all, you are in your own living room (or even bedroom). Why shouldn’t you feel at home? This may lead you to seek quick distractions, look at your phone, open an extra window on your browser to listen to some music, watch a Youtube video, or answer messages on social media. After all, your counterpart cannot see you, if you are using a 3D avatar or even if your webcam is turned off during a panel. All these behaviours are to be avoided. Although no one expects the same level of formality you experience in an office, it is still worth maintaining a minimum of discipline and focusing on the interaction: losing focus on a thousand other activities will lead to your interaction being distracted and your answers becoming less relevant. It is almost inevitable that, at some point, the other attendees will realise that you are not giving them 100% of your attention and they will regard that as disrespectful.

2. Netiquette guide to virtual events: keep your cool and don’t forget your manners!

Interactions on the Internet are a minefield. There is now a wealth of research on why normally peaceful and polite people leave aggressive or even violent comments on social networks, expressing increasingly extreme or offensive opinions. Such behaviour is wrong everywhere and inexcusable in a professional context. One should never confuse the chats or message boards of a professional event platform with those on Facebook. Netiquette for a virtual event prescribes politeness and respect and absolutely forbids any kind of discriminatory or offensive speech towards other participants or specific categories.

3. Do not ‘spam’, not even when promoting your own brand

Are you allowed to promote yourself and your product or brand during a virtual event? Of course, you are, but you shouldn’t spam. If you have a product or service to advertise, do so in the spaces created for this purpose or when the mention of your brand is relevant to the discussion. If you start every dialogue and interaction with blatant advertising of your company, the other attendees will perceive you as an uninteresting contributor, who is only interested in receiving rather than giving, who has nothing useful to share and is only trying to make hard sells.