Death by meeting part III – web conference calls
If regular meetings are not already enough to endure, most of us need to participate or schedule web conference meetings. Technology keeps pushing the limits as to what is possible short of being there in person. The newest Apps, e.g. GoToMeeting, even allow for you to participate on your mobile device while you are travelling. There is so much that can go wrong with them though. It ranges from technical difficulties to the locations people choose to participate from. Here is an awesome video that captures this issue very well: web conference in real life.
Your call does not have to end like that example though. There are a couple of best practices that can help you holding a very productive web conference call.
- Hold a trial run call. If this is for a really important meeting then preparation is king. Set up a meeting with all participating parties to make sure everyone can participate.
- Select a web conference software that works for everyone. Very often you will find that some of your participants have firewall issues and other corporate IT related challenges. You may have to be flexible in having to switch to a platform that you did not have. So far GoToMeeting and Skype for business have been the most successful for me. Cisco Jabber and others may also work for you.
- Silencing the echo and feedback effect. When sending out the meeting invitations with your web conference tool select the phone only option. This eliminates the echoing etc. It may cause a time delay of your audio especially when you have international callers. Start out this way and then slowly introduce computer audio. If you do not do that this way you will have some folks participate with the computer audio running and calling in anyway. That is when you have the bad echoing spoiling your meeting. Select a software that allows for you to mute participants. This way you can at least silence some of the issues.
- Turn on the camera. Seeing the folks you want to collaborate with you does a few things for you. First of all you get to genuinely see them participate. Second, you limit folks do other tasks while participating.
- Share your files or screen. Nothing beats being literally on the same page. Always strive for using software that allows document sharing and collaboration. The best platforms will allow other participants to make edits and even show their own work.
The most important take away for avoiding death by web conference call is preparing your participants for the call. The vast majority of issues are of technical nature shortly followed by the participant’s lack of computer competencies. If a software does not work for you, be brave and switch to whatever works. Technology keeps changing and this will definitely continue with this type of meeting style.