Socrates once said: If it wasn’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.
Socrates actually never said that, as far as we know. His name came to mind at the last second. But this article is about the last minute. The last 15 of them, specifically.
You might have found this looking for last-minute virtual event etiquette tips for attendees. If so, you might be happy that quite a lot can be achieved in the last 15 minutes. That virtual event you registered for. That one you need to be seen at. Wherein you might even have to speak up. Prepositions at ends of sentences don’t matter to you. You need answers.
Fortunately, you’re in the right place. This is your quick, reliable self-check. It’s half technical, half street smarts, and half luck. But we’ve got you, 150% of the way!
Last Minute Attendee Etiquette Checklist
Even if you’ve crossed every t and dotted every i, something could have been missed. The last 15 minutes are when you can do something about these things, whether the solution you find to them is ideal or adequate enough. Here are a few of those things:
Review the agenda/materials in advance. No one wants to feel like they asked a “dumb” question (btw, never call yourself dumb!). Everyone wants to look cool, sound informed, and positively stand out. Knowing the subject matter and people delivering it is half the battle. Best part is, most people don’t do this. You will be part of the informed minority.
Ideally, you’d want to do this well before the 15 minutes prior, and maybe even note the questions you want to ask, or the speakers you want to see. But even a five-minute review of these materials is better than none at all.
Give transparency a chance. If something has become an unforeseen, potential distraction on your attendee screen, take a second to warn fellow attendees of this possibility at the outset of your talking segment. Warn that you could have a potential interruption and apologize in advance. It’s easy to get swept up in the formalities of an event. But the other attendees, speakers and organizers are people too. Chances are they’ll forgive and respect you for telling them up front about:
- The rambunctious dog you had to bring inside because of the rain.
- The rain itself—or worse, hail.
- Your babysitting arrangement fell through and your toddler might wake up crying.
- The neighboring apartment has been converted into a racquetball court in the past 24 hours—it happens!
- The neighboring apartment tenants have installed an air hockey table against your shared wall—ok, more likely than the racquetball thing.
Remember that you will be remembered. Many large virtual events or conferences feature breakout rooms and networking sessions that are enabled by interactive features such as group chat (viewable to a subsection of attendees who choose to enter into that group), one-on-one chat (viewable to two attendees only) and main stage chat (viewable to all attendees). Having a 360-degree awareness of these various communication channels will enable you to make more etiquette-informed decisions.
For example, don’t chance a statement that could be viewed as polarizing or overly controversial on the main stage chat. People will remember you, and it will color their initial impression of you each time they see you. It would be even more tragic (not to mention less productive) to discover that you can reserve controversy for a more exclusive setting, like one-on-one or group chat, where you could find the opportunity to converse with folks in a more forgiving or even supportive setting.
Be nice to the organizers. This point of etiquette is important because the people who organize virtual events and manage the show flow usually remain faceless. In the heat of frustration over a glitchy feed, for example, an attendee might feel emboldened to “let the organizers have it” with an angry, all-caps chat message. The organizers are people too. They also have relationships with the VIPs featured at the event. No need to dirty these waters with vitriol. Namaste, y’all.
Look toward the camera. This sounds obvious, but it’s especially important for people who have a monitor connected to their computer. The tendency is to look at the screen with the most appealing display, which is usually the monitor. But to everyone else, this attendee seems to be staring into left field because the camera is on the computer, not the monitor.
Check your connect (again). Internet connectivity. Up to this point you’ve been confident in your internet connection. It hasn’t given you significant problems. You pay enough for it monthly, after all. But have you thought of:
- How much physical obstruction is between you and the router? The walls, appliances and other dense objects between you and your router can interrupt your signal.
- You have satellite internet service. This literally means your connection must travel to outer space and back to deliver AV feed results. Satellite connections experience latency, no matter how good they are. Audio delays and AV feed cut-outs are to be expected 100% of the time with satellite connections. If your connection is satellite, and you’re realizing this just before going live, switch to a hotspot. A moderately-powered hotspot connection will deliver more reliable live stream results than the best satellite connection that money can buy.
- If you haven’t already, make a hardwire, cable connection between your computer and modem. This optimizes the likelihood of having no interruptions.
For more last minute tips on preparing for a virtual event as a speaker or attendee, see our Speaker Best Practices, Gear Recommendations & Go-Live Checklist.