The changing face of the workplace and the introduction of new technology such as business video conferencing for IT such as BlueJeans has taken many important meetings online.
As convenient as it is, and as many new international opportunities it opens up, things can still go wrong with the online software and if you are used to in-person conferences, making the switch to online conferencing can be a big step. This can make online meetings take even longer and become an even bigger waste of time as the board room was in the traditional office setup. With these steps, you can ensure all of your online webcasts go ahead smoothly with no technical errors or interruptions:
- Prepare Videos and Slides
Nobody likes to sit and listen to somebody else talk for hours at a time. It is the quickest way to make people lose focus during a meeting and fail to get your point across effectively. Online conference systems offer many options to break up the monotony through the use of slides, interactive whiteboards, and particularly with video clips. These are a great way to deliver your message and bring back lost attention at the same time. Prepare your videos beforehand, upload it to your conferencing software, and play it during the appropriate point of the agenda to make your speeches better.
- Have an Agenda
It is easy for online meetings to lose their focus and run overtime, keeping people from their regular duties and making whatever point you are trying to make less effective. The Dummies Guide suggests one way to avoid this is to be prepared by having an agenda written up and distributed before you begin. Include time at the beginning for icebreakers and to fix technical errors, then schedule everything you will cover and how much time you will give to each item and stick to it strictly. This will prevent the discussion from going on for too long and prevent long tangents or arguments, making meetings more efficient and time saving for everyone.
- Get to Know Your Software
Using an unfamiliar piece of software for the first time is always a little awkward, and it is easy to make mistakes at first. Making these mistakes during an important conference in front of your colleagues only makes it more embarrassing and frustrating. It could even put you off of online conferencing altogether. If you do need to use video conferencing software or devices you aren’t used to, take some time before the meeting to perform a test run and get to know the software before you need to use it for business purposes. This will teach you how to solve technical errors, position your camera and microphone properly, and how to conduct a videocast online rather than in-person.
- Don’t Interrupt
While you want to encourage discussion and let everybody bring their ideas to the (virtual) table, Nerds On Site says that speaking over and interrupting other speakers is bad conferencing etiquette. It can be even more awkward online due to time delays and take even longer to bring a meeting to order than it would if everyone was in the same room together. There are options for the moderator to mute every microphone except the current speaker to allow them to get their point across without interruption. Other systems have a ‘hands up’ feature which allows people to make an objection or statement without starting an argument. While on the surface these features may seem like they could make a meeting take longer, they allow it to run smoothly and on time and allow everybody on the call to make their contribution without a single person dominating the conversation.
- Get to the Point
When it is your time to speak, you can also prevent the conference from going on for too long by getting to your point quickly without stalling, going off on tangents, or losing your point. If others are taking too long, politely ask them to reach their point quicker and remind them that you are on a tight schedule so that discussions can proceed. Prepare your notes and main points before the conference starts, and you can ensure that you get them across and allow everyone to get back to their work in good time.
- Mute Yourself
It isn’t always the meeting itself that can hold everyone up. Background noise can easily be picked up by microphones and interrupt speakers by making it more difficult for them to be heard. You can solve this problem yourself by muting your microphone, if it hasn’t been muted for you, whenever you need to eat or drink anything, type out some notes, or even whenever you don’t need to be speaking.
Using good online etiquette, getting to know your software, making your point quickly and effectively, and being prepared for online conferences will ensure that everyone goes smoothly and you will always make the most out of your conferences.