DEAR MISS MANNERS: When a videoconference is scheduled for a certain time, does one “arrive” 10 minutes ahead of time in order to try to connect and solve any technical problems? Or does one arrive at exactly the time announced and then start solving technical problems -- and then wait while others arrive and solve THEIR technical problems?
Although I think that the online event should resemble an in-person meeting, where attendees arrive early and the meeting begins at the scheduled time, it appears that most webinars only begin to allow attendees into the virtual room at the meeting time. So it is only then that you realize your technology isn’t working, or that the link is incorrect, and you have to hurriedly troubleshoot while others do the same.
I am new to the world of doing everything online like this, so I wondered if there were established protocols that I don’t know about.
GENTLE READER: The new conference rules, Miss Manners finds, are not so dissimilar to meetings held in person: Try to arrive early, and be prepared for congestion.
Hosts should arrive at least a few minutes in advance to prepare for timely guests, but all involved should exercise patience and good humor at inevitable delays. At five minutes past the start time, however, if a quorum is achieved, the meeting may reasonably start.
Finally, inevitable latecomers and those having trouble with their technology should make efforts to cause as little interruption as possible. That is where “mute upon arrival” will be sorely missed when we finally return to the physical world.