Essentially anywhere you go in the developed world, you will notice that people seem to be obsessed with screens. People walk the streets while totally engrossed in whatever happens to be displayed on the screen of their smartphone, and if they’re forced to sit still for any amount of time, then out comes the tablet so they can watch an episode of Family Guy, play a round of Angry Birds, or read a magazine while vaguely remembering that magazines used to be made of paper.
Technology has forever changed the way we interact with the world, and with each other, and the corporate world needs to keep up. Smartphones ensure that you can never pretend you hadn’t checked the email reminding you about the office meeting, and of course, that meeting can be very different to what it was a generation ago. Video meetings have become the norm, allowing for inexpensive interaction and collaboration between elements of a company that might have felt somewhat disconnected from each other by geography. Ensuring that a video conference is of the highest quality has never been more important, and there are a few easy steps to follow in order to get the most out of the medium.
Learn Your System
Most of us know how to use Skype, but corporate video conferencing is far more advanced. While the systems provided by market leaders such as the Blue Jeans Network are very user friendly, you need to learn the full capabilities and functionality of the system, so that you’re never in a position of accidentally kicking your CEO out of an important conference when all you wanted to do was mute the microphone while you sneezed. Having a couple of designated staff members to operate the system can be beneficial, and having someone who knows exactly which button to press, and when, will ensure that your video conferences have the necessary flow, so that very quickly everyone almost forgets that they’re even interacting via an electronic medium.
Expand Your Limits
It’s usually more of an issue for small businesses, but remember that HD video conferencing can use up a lot of your available bandwidth, and so it has the potential to slow or even stop your other forms of telecommunications. Of course, it’s not viable to wait for someone to finish with their video conference before you can check your emails, so check with your provider to see if you’ll need your bandwidth to be increased. Insufficient bandwidth can also affect the quality of a video conference, and since increasing it can raise your operating costs, it’s important to factor this in when considering the cost of the system in question.
You could certainly place your video conference facilities in any part of your office and hope for the best, but for a professional result you’ll need to do a small amount of setup. A dedicated meeting room with adjustable lighting is ideal, perhaps away from the main office so that background noise is less of an issue, because it would be disappointing to have state of the art video conferencing facilities and have to wear headset microphones because you set it up next to the company gym. Any windows in the room that houses the system should have drapes or blinds, because too much sunlight can put an unpleasant glare on the other participants’ screens.
The Importance of the Plan
Treat a video meeting exactly the same as any other meeting, so ensure that an agenda has been devised and forwarded to all participants, along with an electronic copy of any relevant material that you would ordinarily distribute as a hard copy at a face to face meeting. Video meetings can encourage a sense of informality, but this is not necessarily a good thing. Also remember that the other participants can see and hear everything you do and say. This might seem obvious, but it’s amazing how easily it can be forgotten, so don’t make jokes under your breath.
Does Your Video Need a Host?
It’s not as though a video conference requires a celebrity host and a band that plays songs to break up the boring parts of the meeting, but for large scale video conferences with multiple participants and topics, a moderator can be a great idea. This can be someone from any division of the company, so long as he or she has the relevant organizational skills. The moderator simply patches participants in and out of the conference as needed, announces them, and ensures that the agenda is followed. A moderator can make it easier for everyone to keep track of who will be speaking, and about what, which actually be quite difficult to follow for large scale video conferences.