Online meetings seem to be online hell for most people. But technology has come a long way in the last few years and there are a number of things we can do to improve our online meetings. Lets stop wasting time and do it!
- Use great equipment – When we’re working online, we need a great internet connection, noise canceling headsets, and anything else that makes the bandwidth to flow. Invest a little bit of money.
- Have a backup tool – All tools, as great as they are, can fail. Being able to quickly switch to a new tool can save valuable time.
- Arrive early and test – When we meet in person, we can slide in at the last minute, sit down and be present. When we’re remote and we try to slide in at the last minute, chances are, something will go wrong. The headset won’t work, you need to reboot, and now we’re 10 minutes into the meeting. Arrive a couple of minutes early and test your equipment so you can start your meeting on time.
- Assign a buddy – If you have hybrid meetings where some people are in person, and some remote, assign a buddy to each remote person in case something goes wrong or they need help speaking up. This gives the remote person a lifeline back to the in-person meeting.
- Assign a tech person – Assign someone to deal with any technical challenges that come up during the meeting so that the facilitator and participants can continue while someone else works on the problem.
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Welcome to the Collaboration Superpowers podcast. My name is Lisette and I’m interviewing people and companies doing great things remotely. Welcome, everyone, to another episode. Thanks for being here.
I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about online meetings. They just seem to be online hell for most people. And it doesn’t have to be that way. Technology has come a long way, and there are plenty of things that we can do to make our online meetings more productive. Today I want to focus on the technical challenges that we encounter and how to avoid them because it does seem like every time we start a meeting, somebody’s headset isn’t working or the video isn’t working, or they have to reboot. And this can be avoided. So I want to talk a little bit about what I found in my interviews [inaudible – 00:53]. So the first thing is use great equipment. Now I know this sounds very simple, but when we are working online, we really do have to have really good equipment. We have to have a great Internet connection, noise-cancelling headsets, things that help make the bandwidth flow smoothly because we’re not standing in the same room together. We have to be able to communicate. Invest a little bit of money. It’s not that expensive to get good-quality equipment. And if you have the option at home for what kind of Internet connection that you can have, pay extra for the extra-good Internet connection. If you’re going to be working remotely, this is a critical piece of the puzzle.
Okay, so we can have great equipment, but sometimes the tools don’t work. We can’t always understand why, but what I’ve learned from online meetings is it’s always good to have a backup tool. So, say, for instance, you start in GoToMeeting and GoToMeeting doesn’t work for some reason. If you have a backup tool, your team can just immediately move to that next tool without wasting any time. All tools, as great as they are, fail at some point. So just having a backup tool in place can save a lot of hassle. When we’re in a meeting at the office, we can slide in at the last minute, take a seat, and still be fully present and engaged for the meeting. When we work virtually, this is not always the case. You can’t just slide in at the last minute and expect everything to work because it’s probably not going to work. So I always advise people, just one or two minutes before the meeting, always test your lighting, your connection, your microphone, and your sound to make sure that everything is working so that when the meeting starts, you don’t spend that first 10 minutes of the meeting saying, “Oh, my mike isn’t working. Hold on. I have to reboot.” Or, “Oh, the video isn’t working. I need to turn off this other application. You can just start right away knowing everything is going to work.” Like I said, in the office, you can just slide in. But with the remote meeting, you just can’t do that safely. If you have some people who are working together in an office and some people that are calling in remotely, it can be very useful to have a buddy system. So for example, the remote participant is assigned to somebody in the office who can help them figure out what’s going on if the connection is lost or if they’re not understanding or if they just need more information. So you can assign each remote participant a buddy that will help them during the meeting. And one person isn’t responsible for everybody, and there are no interruptions in the meeting when lots of people have small questions.
And the last tip that I can give is assign someone in a meeting to deal with the technical challenges. So, for instance, I could say to [Louise – 03:35], Louise, during this meeting, if there are technical challenges, I want you to be the one that deals with them and everybody knows to go to Louise if they’re having any challenges. That way, I or anybody else as a facilitator can continue with the meeting and everybody is not interrupted by one person’s technical challenges. It helps keep the facilitator focused as well.
In summary, my best tips for avoiding technical hickups during online meetings are use great equipment, have a backup tool, use the buddy system, test your technology, lighting, and connection, and assign someone to deal with the technical challenges. I realize that these tips seem pretty simple, but putting them in place has really helped me and a lot of the people that I’ve interviewed as well. So I encourage you to try some of these techniques. And please let me know if you’ve had any success, failures, or things you want to add. I would love to hear from you. You can find all the information you need to get in touch at collaborationsuperpowers.com. Okay, that’s it for today. Stay tuned next week when I interview Marc Hughes from Scrumdo. Scrumdo is an online Scrum tool which lets you focus on the work instead of managing Scrum. It was a great conversation and it looks like a really great tool. So stay tuned for next week.
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