Long before humorously-captioned photos of awkward students, iconic movie scenes and cats in business attire, the word meme had a very different meaning. It referred to an idea that spread rapidly among large groups of people. Memes have a peculiar way of shaping the way we perceive something, even when our own experience runs counter to it.
One of the most persistent memes in the business world is the view of meetings. From movies and TV shows to the comics section of the newspaper, meetings are viewed as an unproductive and tiresome affair for everyone involved. Of course, that is an unfair assessment; meetings can be an incredibly valuable tool for any business. After all, if they were such a waste of time, why would they still exist?
When organising and conducting a meeting, however, people face the added burden of making sure it does not meet the low expectations that others have come to accept. With the extra investment that must go into web conferences, this is even more important. Fortunately, there are several strategies that organisers and presenters can use to make sure that a web conference exceeds expectations. These are three strategies that can help bust the meme and maximise the productivity and value of your next web conference.
Schedule at the right time
One of the benefits of web conferencing is that it allows participants from all over the world to collaborate in real time with access to the same materials. This can be incredibly useful in connecting geographically-distant team members, but it also creates a potential timing issue.
Nearly everyone is familiar with the ebbs and flows of productivity throughout the day and the week. At 9am on a Monday, very few workers will be in the right mental state for an intensive discussion about a big project. Likewise, trying to schedule any type of work-related event late in the afternoon on a Friday is a recipe for disaster.
The time of day can also be a key factor in good scheduling. Keith Harris, the head of development for planning service WhenIsGood, examined the trends in availability and RSVPs for over 100,000 event invitations. The results showed that availability and flexibility were generally low before 10am, during lunchtime and after 3pm. Between 10am and 11am was the optimal time for getting the most attendees.
Since web conferences can include participants in different time zones, it's important to make sure that - as much as possible - the schedule is ideal for everyone's availability and level of productivity.
Use your resources
Developers spend a lot of time building features and innovative capabilities into their projects. If they're not putting those to use, web conference hosts are missing out on an excellent opportunity to liven up the session. With Eureka Conferencing, there are many ways to spruce up a web conference.
While the main function of a web conference is to connect participants in different locations, the capabilities extend far beyond an audio-visual link. Instead of just showing a live video feed of other participants, organisers have a great deal of flexibility in what they present. Eureka Conferencing's platform features full-screen HD, so all participants can get a crystal-clear look at the meeting materials. These can include shared files and screens, as well as the "push to URL" feature which navigates all participants to the same website. Our system also allows for the use of up to 15 webcams in a meeting.
Streamline as much as possible
At some point, nearly everyone has been stuck in a meeting that wouldn't end. Not only do overly-long meetings waste everyone's time, they can also drag down the morale of everyone involved. Fortunately, with proper planning, web conferences can be kept short, sweet and productive.
Certainly, one of the benefits of any meeting - virtual or in person - is to share and collaborate on information. That does not, however, mean that every participant must give their input on every item. Doing so will just drag out the conversation and devolve into redundancy. An effective strategy to avoid this comes right from the Apple playbook. According to a Fortune report, each agenda point in a meeting at the tech giant will be accompanied by a DRI - directly responsible individual. Having a DRI in a web conference reins in unproductive discussion and ensures that participants know who the point person is for each item.
Similarly, one of the worst things an organiser can do is fill the virtual room with participants. Before sending out invitations, carefully consider how many people actually need to be in a web conference. Remember, just because Eureka can support 15 webcams does not mean there needs to be 15 participants.
This is a strategy that works well for Google, where task-oriented meetings are limited in size. According to Kristen Gil, Google's VP of business operations, effective meetings should generally have no more than 10 attendees, and each should be expected to contribute. The same guidelines work exceptionally well for a web conference.
A surefire way to prevent a web conference from dragging on is to simply prohibit it from going beyond a preset time limit. Organisers should think carefully about how much time a meeting genuinely needs to take. Sure, a 30-minute meeting will last the full time - but could it have been condensed into 15 minutes instead? Chances are that it could. That is one of the reasons why 15 minutes is the default time allocation for meetings at marketing company Percolate. That limit can go a long way in keeping a web conference on track.
With the right planning, organisers can put together a top-notch web conference. Reach out to Eureka to learn more.