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Web Conferencing Tips Part 2: During the Meeting
June 18, 2008 @ 06:00 AM | By Dan Uhlmeyer

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.

Meeting Agenda

  • 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!

Dan_2 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.

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Comments

Dan Carroll

I agree completely, Dan. For years I was involved in meetings that did not engage the employee and the level of actual learning and coherence was horrible. After making the switch to web conferencing, the difference is like night and day.

I also want to point out that it is true that the host of the meeting really has to have their act together. The more they understand, the better they will be able to execute which simply adds to the smoothness of the meeting. And for the record, I liked the sports analogy!

Cheers!

Kevin Horn

Kudos for focusing on the planning and execution of a meeting - web conferencing features really do enhance the productivity of meetings and I've come to rely on web conferencing for this very reason. However, without a clear agenda and plan of execution, meetings can be unproductive.

Even with the best web conferencing platform, the meeting or webinar can fall flat without the proper planning. When it comes to everday meetings, I find these tips rather useful... although #2 is moot if you're using web conferencing :)
http://37signals.com/svn/archives2/you_still_want_meetings_heres_how_to_make_them_useful.php

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