The three P’s of a productive online chat

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So you’ve signed up for one of our coffee chats and you’re anxious about how it will turn out. Don’t worry! Chatting online is easy. And it gets easier and more enjoyable the more you do it. If you want to make the most of a coffee chat, read on and observe the three P’s of online communication:

Preparation

Just like attending any meeting, you get the most out of it by being prepared. Here’s a checklist for you:

  • Check technical requirements ahead of time:
    • Test your camera.
    • Test your audio (speakers, microphone, headset).
    • Check your internet connection.
    • See if you need to download software or an app to join the chat.
    • Check if your computer is fully charged.
    • Make sure that there is an electrical outlet to plug in nearby.
  • Location:
    • Set up in a quiet place.
      If you have to be in a coffee shop or a library, use a headset to eliminate noise and distractions.
    • Check your background.
      Make sure that your surroundings are neat and tidy. This does not only minimize distractions, this also contributes to a positive impression of you.
    • Are you well-lit?
    • You don’t need professional lighting. Most of the time, ordinary room lighting is enough. Remember that a good light source should be in front of you, not behind you.

  • Minimize distractions:
    • close your door.
    • post a message outside saying that you are in an online chat and that silence will be appreciated.
    • turn off the TV or radio, as well as open apps in your computer like Facebook or email (this will prevent “pings” announcing new messages. It will also save precious bandwidth).
  • Dress appropriately.
    Don’t get me wrong, you don’t really need to wear formal clothes (especially for Coffee Chats). All you need to be is decent (don’t wear revealing clothes, or worse, attend shirtless). This also shows respect for the other members of the group.

Participation

Online communication demands engagement and a high level of participation. This means you need to focus, listen well, and pay attention to what is being discussed.

  • Follow instructions.
    Before online classes/workshops and coffee chats start, a guide on how to begin is posted for participants. Read these instructions and follow them. It will ensure that you will be prepared. It will also tell you what to do when the class or chat starts.
  • Introduce yourself.
    This is a great way for other participants to see you. You may also express your expectations at this point to help the moderator facilitate the discussion.
  • Listen and participate by sharing your views and asking questions.
  • Speak clearly.
    Don’t be offended when someone asks you to repeat what you said. Sometimes the online connection is not clear.
  • Follow the moderator or e-facilitator.
    The moderator or e-facilitator is there to guide you and help you make the most of the coffee chat.

Propriety

Just like in face to face communications, pleasant conversations stem from being polite and gracious.

  • Greet people when you come into the chat room, as you would in a face to face classroom. Say “good morning” or “good afternoon” and acknowledge the presence of those who are online (ex: “Hello everyone! I’m pleased to meet all of you today”).
  • Address everyone when you are speaking. Try to include everyone in the discussion.
  • Don’t interrupt when someone is talking. You will have your turn.
  • Listen. You may learn a thing or two.
  • React. A great way to join the conversation is to (positively) react to another participant’s statement. You can say how you can relate to it or share a similar experience.
  • Give others a chance to join in. Don’t monopolize the conversation.
  • Respect other people’s opinions and don’t force your views on them. Be open-minded. Not everyone has the same experience in life. You don’t have to agree with them but you do have to be respectful. Everyone has a right to their opinions.
  • Don’t bring up irrelevant topics.
  • Be careful about jokes. Some can be culturally offensive.
  • Don’t type in all caps when you send a message to the e-facilitator or participants.
  • Give notice to the moderator if you have to leave.

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Community Resources

Read Top 5 tips for better online video communication to guide you when you use Skype, FaceTime or other VoIP technology.

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