Information to participants in an online conference

When you organise an online conference you need provide clear joining instructions to the participants. It’s also a good idea to provide a helpdesk function during the event. This can be a Zoom room manned by a technical support person or a lobby where participants can ask questions and text the tools.

Pre-conference tips

  • Log in in good time for each session. There will be a host/moderator there to welcome you and answer any questions. You can even test your audio and video before the session starts.
  • Find a quiet place to sit – Use your own device and try not to sit in the same room as other participants. Try to find a quiet place to sit, away from annoying background noise. Switch your mobile and notifications on your computer to silent mode.
  • Do not disturb. Put a notice on the door to your room that you are in a conference and do not wish to be disturbed. A good way to avoid unexpected visitors.
  • Cable instead of wifi. A cable connection to internet is more stable than wifi and significantly reduces the risk of poor sound and video quality. With wifi you are sharing the bandwidth with other users and the connection quality can vary greatly. The faster your internet connection the better the experience.
  • Use a headset or conference microphone, best to use a headset with a USB connection. Wireless headsets sometimes suffer from interference. A tabletop conference microphone is a good alternative if you don’t like to use a headset of have a colleague with you.
  • Use your webcam. Use your webcam to show who you are and people can see you. Eye contact is important even in online meetings. The camera can be in-built or external and should be at eye level. However, in large meetings you may prefer to switch your camera off if you are just listening. If you have low bandwidth you can improve sound quality by switching off your camera.
  • Questions during the meeting – Use the chat function to ask questions or comment.
  • Use the mute button. Close your microphone when you are not talking. This is to avoid disturbing background noise during a presentation (eg typing, talking to a colleague, music etc).
  • Think about lighting. Avoid having a strong light source behind you, for example a window or lamp. Try to sit with a light source in front of you. That way everyone can see you properly.
  • Take a break and remember to drink and eat. It’s easy in an online conference to sit for hours in front of your screen. It’s tempting to use the breaks to check your e-mail or other work. Take a proper break, Stretch, go outside, get some coffee or tea and something to eat. You will get so much more out of the event this way.

ITHU 2020. Adapted from work by Lotta Fröjdfeldt, Mälardalens högskola