One of the most common questions I get from training colleagues outside of the conferencing industry is “How do you train over a conference call? There are way too many distractions!” While I can see where their anxiety may be coming from, I’ve put together a list of 5 ways to remove distractions from your next virtual meeting.
Since the start of our company’s recent green initiative there has been increasing awareness in our office when it comes to being green. There are many ways that people can decide to reduce, reuse and recycle, but here are some of the steps we’ve found to be successful in all three areas.
As our office is in a very urban part of the city, we are fortunate to have access to several forms of public transportation. We all try to participate and have some options available such as the commuter train, subway, streetcars, buses and carpooling. Each of these options reduces carbon emissions and, as an added bonus, we feel that it improves our quality of life. With what would normally be a lot of time spent in the car in traffic, we can now prepare for meetings, read, socialize, and be stress free.
Our office has quite a bit of natural light available. Because of this, it’s common for us to work without having to turn the lights on. Each room has its own light switch and thermostat that allows us to control and maintain our energy consumption. Our building has even installed sensors in the bathrooms so that the lights only turn on when it is occupied.
The main culprit in our “reduce” area is paper consumption. There’s always someone you know in your office that “accidentally” prints off the entire sales database / inbox, or puts in paper the wrong way. The best policy we’ve implemented to help reduce our paper use is having a duplex printer. Our network team has assisted in updating everyone’s computers so their default settings include the duplex feature. If your office doesn’t have a duplex printer, you can always reuse sheets by putting them back into the printer to reprint on the other side. This is really good for those documents that you have to work off of but don’t need to keep forever.
The reuse philosophy is one that commonly gets overlooked by people in the office place. It’s easy to get your take-out food, use plastic forks and disposable cups. With our office kitchenette, we are able bring in our own lunches and reuse dishware instead of paper and plastic alternatives, thereby allowing us to wash and reuse plates, cutlery, and mugs.
There are also more creative ways to be “friendlier” in the food court than you may think. For instance, when getting coffee for the team, we keep the cardboard trays and take them back on our next coffee run. Some places will double-package your food, frst in its container, and then again in a bag. We skip the double-bag / plate, or bring our own substitute that we use on a daily basis. We also use reusable bags when going to and from the office.
Having someone on site that is diligent in educating and reminding others of our green responsibility is essential. We affectionately refer to this person as the “office garbage picker”. This person is our constant reminder that “Yes, that can be recycled” or “No, you don’t need to print that email”. Creating signs can also help people understand the role they play in office recycling.
In order to be more efficient in recycling, we are approaching our building management to discuss options for composting or “green boxing”. This is one thing that we are currently unable to facilitate on our own and need additional support for.
Being more aware and having good communication with your teammates is important to achieving the three Rs of reduce, reuse, recycle. These are the things that have worked for us, but there are tons of ways to go green in your office. What challenges or successes has your office faced in going green?
When I look at why businesses choose InterCall for conferencing and collaboration services, something that really becomes apparent is how many choices we offer. With that in mind, I’m really excited about our latest news.
Our parent company, West Corporation, has acquired Genesys, and will combine it with InterCall. West's conferencing segment will have nearly a billion dollars in revenue and become the #1 or #2 conferencing provider in every major global market.
What this means for you is that you will have an even broader and more powerful suite of services. More choices….That’s what we always strive to give our customers.
InterCall and Genesys have much in common already. Both companies share a vision to provide the best multimedia conferencing services to the market. By combining InterCall’s global infrastructure with Genesys’ multimedia technology, integrated services and deep international presence, the two companies will be able to achieve what neither could in what will be a very short period of time. Genesys also has already-established support and resources in broader global regions, which will further enhance InterCall’s ability to serve our global customers.
We will update you as we make changes to improve the service and the technology. Stay tuned. The best is yet to come.
Cambria Vaccaro is Director of Marketing, Corporate Communications and our “Industry News” blogger. Cambria has been in the conferencing industry for nearly fifteen years, and has seen it evolve from a traditional video bridging service to include cool web features and remote communication services. She is an avid runner, cook, wife and mother of two gorgeous girls.
In my first post, we talked about the basic technology of video conferencing and now that you’re more comfortable the idea, let’s talk about when and why to use it. These are 2 very important questions that you need to be able to address with your company executives so that they see the value of the equipment and justification for continued support of the investment.
• When to use
You should use video conferencing any time that a face to face meeting is important but travel is either too costly or puts you away from the office for too long. I’m regularly on a video conference in the AM Mountain Time talking with my counterparts in the UK during what is their afternoon. I can take feedback from that meeting, and turn around and deliver something to my Sydney AU team at my evening time. And I can see their reaction when I present on both sides to validate whatever project I’m working on. This is much more effective that an audio or web conference for seeing and feeling that reaction. It allows me to build up my virtual camaraderie with my counterparts without the need to be away from my wife and children, so I get to go home in the evening and cook on the grill for them. Good luck with that traveling to London or Sydney.
And, no matter what field you’re in you could have a need for video conferencing. Video Conferencing is the perfect way to hold meetings when you need to see your customer, counterpart, or client, conduct HR interviews with a candidate in order to see how they present without the added expense of flying them to your office. Legal firms can do virtual depositions and interviews with potential expert witnesses to gauge their ability to present their testimony. “Telemedicine” using video conferencing has been growing in the medical field to remotely interview patients, and with specialized video medical technology can even remotely diagnose patients in rural settings. The education field can use video conferencing to reach out to students that can’t travel to the university, or to add a virtual audience to their campus.
• Why to use
Think about the time you’d able to save by staying in one spot but travelling the world virtually. If I was away from the office and on an airplane for bi-weekly meetings I’d accomplish much less and have to spread my work hours into my relaxation time in order to get it all done. Not convenient or compelling for me.
And I’m able to save the company money. In the past I was travelling about one week every month, at an average of $1500-$2500 per trip. So far this year due to being able to meet my customers virtually, I’ve travelled to only one trade show (that will change in 2 weeks as I’ll be attending InfoComm in Las Vegas, but that is only my second trip this year). I have not had to fly to meet with any customers wanting to learn about video conferencing. I’ve saved my company about $10,000 so far this year. I’ve been more productive, and I’m becoming a mean backyard grilling expert as well. And the travel savings have easily paid for the equipment I’m using daily.
All in all, the biggest benefit for me has been the time that I get to spend with my family as compared to travelling. It makes the job that I’m doing every day for InterCall much more enjoyable and less stressful. And the company gets to show some savings from the investment they made in me over the long term.
_2″ alt=”Brian_2″ src=”http://www.intercall.com/blog/images/legacy/brian_2.jpg” border=”0″ style=”FLOAT: left; MARGIN: 0px 5px 5px 0px” /> Brian Trampler is the Sr. Product Manager of Strategic Video Solutions & the "Video Conferencing" blogger. Throughout his 10 years in the conferencing industry, he has successfully launched numerous web, streaming, and video services. Prior to making the jump to conferencing, Brian was involved in gymnastics both as a competitor and coach. If you’re lucky, you might also find Brian performing musical theatre throughout the Denver metro area.
In my first post, I talked about keeping it simple as a Web Conferencing beginner. I don’t want you to overwhelm yourself with a long list of features you may not use very often if you are new to web conferencing. But it may be time to pick up your game.
I use InterCall Web Meeting every day and have to admit I do get comfortable with certain feature sets. If you do the same, you could forget other functionality exists. Even as a veteran of web conferencing, I like to revisit the feature list to find new ways to engage my audience. Especially if you are running a recurring meeting, it may not be a bad idea to switch it up in order to keep folks paying attention.
1. Web Conference Meeting Agenda
At this point, you have a plan and have settled on the features you are going to use during your meeting. You’ve already provided your audience an agenda within your meeting invitation. Now, get them engaged early – It is time to mesh the agenda with the features you plan to use while you’re presenting. I like to go through my agenda and tell the audience exactly what I plan to do for each agenda item. I like to tell my participants exactly how I plan to manage the agenda, item by item. In doing so, I tell them what web conferencing feature will be leveraged. This explains to your audience how they will be involved in the meeting and sets expectations for their participation from the beginning.
- Introductions – "Please take a look at the participant list. I will be going down the list in order and will un-mute your line when it is your turn to talk."
- Meeting Objectives – "I will be sharing a Word document outlining the meeting objectives and will also modify this doc during the meeting based on other objectives you provide. I may promote you to a co-moderator so you can add or modify the doc yourselves."
- Application Overview – "I will be giving you a sneak peak of our new online tracking tool. You’ve seen the PDF but this will give you your first real-time look at the features and benefits. At the completion of the demo, I will be sending out some polling questions during the Web Meeting to get your immediate feedback. We can provide this feedback to our vendor for possible enhancements."
- Roundtable – "After the demonstration, we will have a roundtable discussion to cover general feedback. If we have time and if needed, I will pull up a whiteboard to collaborate on ideas."
- Action Items "John, do you mind taking meeting notes with action items? I will take these notes and add them to my stored documents so you can download after the meeting."
2. Meeting Execution
I should know better than to use sports analogies but I’m going to do it anyway. Any professional quarterback can memorize a playbook and dictate each player’s assignment in the huddle. However, few can actually execute to a high degree of success once the huddle breaks and they are standing at the line of scrimmage with angry defenders waiting to take them down. The quarterbacks that bring their "A" game to every practice and every drill will increase their chances for success.
I highly recommend you do a dry run for any high profile meeting – go through the meeting flow, using the features you have picked out as if the audience was online with you. Study the defense by anticipating questions that may be asked. Have supporting reference docs handy that you can pull up real-time in anticipation of particular feedback or questions. You will look like a star if you not only verbally respond but reinforce through visual aids.
3. Build Flexibility into your Plan
So you have come up with this elaborate plan to get your audience engaged but it doesn’t seem to be working. You can still hear background noise, there is little feedback and when you put someone on the spot, they respond with "could you repeat that question?" The fault no longer lies on your delivery. It may be that your audience needs to take a class in participant etiquette.
Things don’t always go as planned, come armed with a secondary plan to get the results you are after. At this point, get assertive – Un-mute all lines using the web tool, pass over application sharing rights to have a participant illustrate your point and start asking for answers name by name. They will certainly come a little more focused the next time around.
Like I mentioned earlier, there is no shortage of tips out there on the web so I encourage you to educate yourself.
Bye for now, I’m off to practice what I preach!
_2″ alt=”Dan_2″ src=”http://www.intercall.com/blog/images/legacy/dan_2.jpg” border=”0″ style=”FLOAT: left; MARGIN: 0px 5px 5px 0px” /> Dan Uhlmeyer is a Sr. Product Manager and the "Web Conferencing" blogger. He has over eight years of product experience in Web Conferencing and currently manages InterCall Web Meeting, InterCall’s proprietary unified communications tool. When not punching on the keyboard, you can find Dan enjoying time with his wife and two children or running a marathon.