Virtual Assistants, Virtual Receptionists, Virtual meetings. The virtual world is creeping into the real world. Most of the technology to hold virtual meetings has been around in one form or another for years, but today with faster bandwidths and better technology, virtual meetings are becoming more practical than ever before.
As more business owners and managers begin to feel comfortable with the effectiveness of the virtual meeting concept and realize the cost savings such events produce, they will become more mainstream in the corporate world.
Inc. Magazine has some good tips for conducting a successful virtual meeting. If you have never held a virtual meeting before, let me add I think it’s important to do a couple of practice meetings before you try to go live
:”The first thing we do before deciding what technologies and software will be needed is to decide who the participating audience is and what information is being shared,” says Drew Bowers, a research psychologist in the University of Dayton Research Institute’s Human Factors Group. “We have found that it is best for presenters to either design their data or presentation according to the environment they will be presenting in, or to choose the best environment to represent the data they have.” Bowers says, “You can’t simply take a presentation you gave in front of a live audience at a conference and throw it up on a video monitor for a virtual audience and expect the same results, because you’re limited, to a degree, in how you can interact with your virtual audience.”
“Rick Maurer, author of Beyond the Wall of Resistance and Why Don’t You Want What I Want? advises users to remove distractions. The advantage of virtual meetings is the ability to hold them almost anywhere-; the disadvantage of virtual meetings is also the ability to hold them almost anywhere. Online meeting attendees can call or log in from the local coffeehouse, airport lounges, home offices, etc. To minimize background or “road noise” (you don’t want your child, pet, or ringing phones to become the focus) you can opt to “mute all attendees and only take questions via the chat box,” says Stack.
Maurer also advises against trying to squeeze multiple things into a single meeting. “Keep the focus on one or two topics. If you must cover more items, then give people time to stretch, take a bathroom break, or replenish their coffee. Keep each segment of the meeting short – no longer than 30 minutes.”
“The key to a successful video conference or phone conference meeting is to remember that you are in a meeting,” stresses Colaric. “Give your full attention to the participants as you would if you were in the same room. Don’t be distracted by e-mail, Web surfing, or texting. Try not to eat or drink so that you can be prepared if questions are directed to you.”
A good rule of thumb? Colaric says, “Always assume when you walk into the room that the microphones are already live to other locations! This helps prevent any extraneous pre-meeting conversation from being broadcast when you might not intend it to.”
Virtual Meetings aren’t for everyone nor are they suitable for every situation. But my personal opinion is if you have a team, working on a project and you simply need to all get on the same page in an expedient and efficient manner, without the hassle of coordinating travel plans, a video meeting could be a great way to go.
What do you think about Virtual Meetings? Does your company do this?
Inqiring minds want to know.