Image courtesy of iosphere/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of iosphere/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s happened to me and it’s probably happened to you. You’re seated in a waiting room or a classroom or a meeting, surfing the internet, looking for a specific website. You’ve heard great things about the author or speaker or blogger and think she may be a great fit for your next ladies event.

But the moment you see her face, you also hear her voice…and so does everyone else. And if you’re like me, that’s when you can’t find the mute button fast enough. Before your fingers can locate the elusive button, the entire waiting room or classroom or meeting room has experienced the interruption coming from your computer.

As co-director of the Christian Communicators Conference, I have the joy of reviewing hundreds of websites per year. I’m also online many hours everyday, interacting with lots of sites. I love seeing the variety of colors, templates, and themes. The photos, book covers, and action shots pull me in.

But in an effort to be on the cutting edge of all things technical, we can easily get caught up in the “more is better” mentality. And in doing so, we may be alienating the very ones we hope to connect with. Perhaps we’ve forgotten our manners.

In the past few years I’ve notice a resurgence of automatic audio that begins the moment the website is opened. And it doesn’t matter if it’s beautiful background music or a front-and-center video presentation, the visitor and everyone around her gets an earful, whether they want to or not.

It’s not a good way to start a relationship with an event planner…or anyone else for that matter. As speakers and authors looking for an audience, we must remember to mind our manners in person and on our sites. Forcing our audio on our visitors without warning and without being invited is like the proverbial bull in a china shop. We stampede our way from our site into their personal space without permission.

Please understand that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have video on our sites. Videos of teaching a message or telling a story or sharing a testimonial are great ways to connect with others and show them who we are. After all, visitors like to see us in action. But they like to see and hear us when they’re ready. Sometimes they’re not ready until they get to the privacy of their own homes.

Even Soaking.net, a music website offering free beautiful, meditative background music, is like a gentleman, waiting to be asked to share his music with his visitors. (I hope you’ll visit and scroll down to the free music. I love listening to the Music Only option as I work.)

So the next time you have the perfect video that shows you at your best, be sure to add it to your website. Just make sure the visitor has the choice of when and where to listen. It’s the courteous thing to do.

My heart is stirred by a noble theme
    as I recite my verses for the king;
    my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1 (NIV)

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,

Vonda