Today’s Workplace Challenges
These days it’s becoming much more common for people to work with other people who aren’t in the same location. There are many challenges that come with this. You no longer have the luxury of walking over to someone’s office or cube and having a face-to-face conversation. You no longer have team meetings in the same room where you can gauge people’s reactions to what you are saying, see if they are following along, or brainstorm new ideas on a white board. You can’t help feeling one step removed from the people you are meeting with when all you hear is their voice and try to follow along with what people are talking about.
So what can you do to improve the quality of your day-to-day interactions and meetings? That’s where using web conferencing comes in. It can dramatically improve your meetings and ad hoc collaboration by providing a visual representation of what you are talking about, bring the physical presence of the people to the meeting with web cams, and provide a place to capture meeting notes, share files and brainstorm ideas. With ConnectNow, web conferencing is now accessible to anyone. It’s free, sign up now!
For a hands-on look at ConnectNow, join me tomorrow for a live seminar at 11:30 EDT, 8:30 PDT. See our forum for session details.
Here are a few ideas on how you can make the most of your real-time collaboration sessions using ConnectNow.
Start your meetings quickly. You often hear people complain that it takes 15 minutes for a web meeting to get started. That’s not the case with ConnectNow. First of all participants don’t need to download any software to attend a meeting.
So what other actions can you take to ensure your meeting gets started quickly?
-Customize your meeting URL so that it’s easy for people to remember and enter your room.
-Use the integrated phone conferencing. Either use the phone number that comes with your room or post your own phone conferencing number. In either case, participants will see the dial-in number when they enter the room.
-Set up your room to allow automatic entry. Participants will enter your room without your approval, eliminating the extra time it takes to accept participants as they request entry. All of these little things save time!
Make the experience more personal and engaging.
-Use webcams. Both hosts and participants can broadcast video using webcams. This is a great way to immediately have a more personal interaction. You can see people’s facial expressions or even what they look like if you have never met someone in person. I know some people have the initial reaction – but I don’t want others to see me I am in my pajamas or I hate seeing myself on a camera. But honestly, you have complete control over what other’s see and usually it’s just your face (so you could still be in your pajamas) and you quickly tune out your own image.
-Upload a personal display image. It immediately adds a more personal feel to the meeting room and gives you sense of who is attending the meeting. Once you upload a personal image, it will show up in any meetings you attend as long as you log on with your Adobe ID.
Share you screen. I am stating the obvious here since it’s the main reason people use web conferencing. By providing a visual aid to your discussion, it will be much easier for people to follow along as if you are in the same room. When you broadcast your screen everyone sees the same thing at the same time. And unlike sending out content in advance, you have complete control over the pace at which people consume your content (no skipping ahead to the next slide) and you don’t have to ask people to “go to page 16 or slide 3″. You can distribute your presentation at the end so people have it for future reference.
Screen sharing is not just for meetings and presentations. You can also have informal working sessions with colleagues to discuss and even make changes to your work on the fly. For example, when reviewing a web design layout, you can review different template options together and then make a decision based on how things look. Or you could edit content based on someone’s feedback as they are watching.
Post an agenda and capture meeting notes in the shared notes pod. Have you ever attended a meeting where the agenda was unclear? Have you ever walked away from a meeting without a clear understanding of what decisions have been made or who is doing what? With the shared notes pod, you can post an agenda which everyone can easily see and refer back to throughout the meeting. You can also capture meeting decisions and actions. At the end of the meeting you can even save the meeting notes as a .doc file and send them out. Alternatively, you can cut and paste them into a Buzzword document where you can track the status of to-do items.
Brainstorm ideas or mark up your screen using the white board tool. Often people use a white board in the conference room to present or brainstorm ideas. Even though you might not be in the same room, you can capture these ideas using the virtual white board. And unlike conference rooms it’s easy to save the white board as a PNG file for future reference. You can even have multiple people mark up your shared screen with white boarding tools such as highlighters, pencils, and text.
Share meeting handouts with the File Share pod. How many times have you asked to send out the materials you present at a meeting? Or perhaps you are going over materials that attendees will need to complete after the meeting. Rather than send an email after the meeting, upload files (10 MB max) to the File Share Pod and allow attendees to download these files during the meeting. And if you have to do it after the meeting, try using Acrobat.com to share your files; Instead of sending email attachments, you send a link to your files.
I don’t think I would nearly as productive or feel as much a part of the team if it weren’t for ConnectNow. I can’t even remember the last meeting I attended where we didn’t use ConnectNow. Often even my 1:1 conversations with colleagues involve us jumping into a room so one of us can follow along as if looking over the other’s shoulder. So, if you haven’t tried ConnectNow, I encourage you to!
Thanks for reading.
Karen, ConnectNow Product Manager