Virtual Conferences continue to gain momentum and popularity as individuals experience increasing amounts of virtual activities for: team collaboration, staff education and delivery of customer support. However, as we ramp-up for online activities, firms will find it mandatory (if they haven’t already) to establish, incorporate and monitor professional standards for virtual etiquette.

We dare to say that many of today’s firms still have outdated standards that only apply to traditional meeting settings and which may not be considerate or inclusive of online activities.

Consider the viewpoint and bullets provided by Thomas Fullman, PhD MBA: Firms of the future are already incorporating etiquette for virtual communication, some of which are time-tested axioms of business communication. Professional standards and virtual procedures will incorporate the following:

1) How to establish eye-to-eye contact, without a physical hand-shake.
2) How to prepare the client and provide a brief agenda ahead of time.
3) Access to a secluded, private “Virtual Meeting Room” for online conferences
OR pre-defined expectations for creating your own virtual meeting space.

Be sure to consider adding particulars such things as: Checking your sound and camera angles. You do not want to be caught scratching yourself (this really happened), shut-off your BlackBerry, instant messages, and other possible interrupters, prevent unwanted noises like door closing, phones going off, on-hold music. No gum chewing, eating, drinking, or disruptive paper shuffling. Start on time, direct the meeting, and stick to the agenda. Be polite, respectful, pay attention, listen carefully, look at the camera and speak clearly.

According to Richard Hitchins, CPA, MBA CFP “In addition to expanding and updating policies and procedures, firms will have to invest in collaboration technology such as: Web-Cams, VOIP, and Online Whiteboards.” To elaborate on this statement he also provided the following information:

Web Cams
As our world becomes more and more virtual, clients will crave more personal relationships and contacts. The web cam is a great way to provide that contact. While web cams are used primarily today for video conferencing and training. CPA firms of the future will provide more and more services around the world by using internet video and web cams.

Some CPA firms are chucking their expensive landline phone systems and going to voice over internet protocol (VOIP) internet telephone systems. One system, Vonage, is available for small business at less than $50.00 per month, per line. This system comes with over 25 features. Some of the more common features are Caller ID, voicemail, call forwarding, 3 way conference calling, call hunting for up to 5 lines, and call waiting to name a few of the 25 plus options.

Online Whiteboards
Along with virtual communication comes documentation and file sharing, which can be found for FREE or for nominal cost. To get started, simply sign-up for Google Docs ( (or) Microsoft Office Live ( If you hire a Virtual Assistant, you will quickly get introduced to their tool of choice: Microsoft Groove.

In Summary, there are also technology companies that have packaged most of these technologies into one service, such as Webex or GoToMeeting, but regardless of the technology you use, virtual etiquette standards and the methods that you use to deliver them, will determine the success or failure of your firms online future.

Dawn Scranton, CQA is a QuickBooks Technology Consultant and Partner of Enterprise Consulting PA

Author's Bio: 

Dawn Scranton, CQA is a integration consultant that focuses on connecting QuickBooks with 3rd party software add-on’s to expand its functionality. Dawn is accredited with over 15 of Intuit’s Certifications and has carved out a unique niche with her extensive knowledge of the more than 400 QuickBooks Add-On products.

A solution oriented activist, Dawn has a proven track record of finding or creating products that seamlessly integrate into an organization’s business processes and workflow.

Intuit has also selected her to be an international spokesperson and presenter for the Intuit Developers Network (IDN) and the Intuit Speaker and Trainers Network.

Most recently Dawn has established the “International Association of QuickBooks Technologists”, the only directory of ProAdvisors, Developers and Business Consultants that are dedicated to growing the “business and technology solutions” side of their consulting services. The association was created due to an overwhelming amount of interest by other ProAdvisors asking her “How can we do what you’re doing?” and developers who were seeking opportunities to expand their value added reseller channels.