IT Superheroes eBook

Like the hallowed superheroes of your childhood, every IT team is equipped with a number of different heroes who you can depend on to save the day when a tech disaster strikes. Though they might not be seen very often, the IT superheroes in your organization are crucial to the success of your business.

There are a number of different types of IT superheroes who roam the halls of your office, averting IT crises and rescuing your colleagues from total technological destruction. These IT heroes possess an array of different super powers that work in tandem as they come together to create an unstoppable IT team that will always be there in times of need. PGi's IT Superheroes eBook explores the various heroes that save the day, every day, in your IT department.

IT Buyer’s Guide to Video Conferencing

Regardless of your company's size, if its like most businesses, your workforce has become more geographically disparate than ever. And while your team may not all share the same office, or is comprised of road warriors or remote workers, you all still have to meet on occasion. But how can your company avoid eating travel costs to get members together for something as large as an annual strategy meeting or as simple as a weekly check in?

In the not so distant past, video conferencing was something on most companies' wish lists, but not anymore. "Video conferencing has finally taken its rightful place as a core business tool", reports Wainhouse. "Companies around the world are depending on video enabled meetings to empower their people, serve their clients better and compete on a global basis."

And as previous problems surrounding video have faded, new opportunities have opened and the high barrier to entry has been removed. There's no doubt that video conferencing has become an essential key to collaboration for modern workplaces, but of course, there are dramatically different strategies and approaches on which solutions meet the needs of the workforce.

To better understand these strategies, PGi has created a Video Conferencing Buyer's Guide. Download the guide now to learn more about what to look for when purchasing a video conferencing solution for your company.

Increasing Pipeline Acceleration Using Webinars

Contrary to what you may think, webinars are not just for driving top of funnel leads. Webinars can help engage prospects throughout the buyer’s journey. When researching B2B purchases, 67% of buyers attended webinars – ranking webinars in the top 3 for content formats.

View the on demand webinar Best Practices for Using Web Events to Increase Pipeline Velocity, conducted by Sirius Decisions and PGi, to learn how you can engage your audience and increase velocity of leads through your pipeline using web events.

As one of the industry’s leading providers of conferencing and collaborations solutions, PGi has a wealth of knowledge to share with customers like you.  Contact us today to learn more.

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What Keeps IT Up at Night Part 1: The Human Element

What’s keeping CIOs and CTOs up at night these days? We presented this question to a variety of IT leaders. While there were a scattering of other answers, the vast majority all revolved around the same concern: security.

Whether it’s educating and equipping your internal users with the knowledge and tools to protect company data, protecting against external attacks and ransomware or better controlling the flow of information in and out of your networks, security is far and away the biggest culprit for CIOs and CTOs losing sleep.

In this first of two articles, let’s take a look at the human element, the challenges facing IT when it comes to educating and securing their own employees. Here are the answers we received from some of IT’s brightest (and most sleep-deprived) minds:

Joshua Crumbaugh, director of penetration testing at Tangible Security, tackles the problem of human error, stating that “Approximately three quarters of all breaches are due to human error such as clicking on a phish or opening malicious files. This is generally the biggest and most difficult issue to remediate.” He goes on to flag password weakness as a concern, adding that, “Weak and guessable passwords have become an almost guaranteed way to gain access to most corporate networks.”

The dangers of human error showed up several times as a major concern. Salo Fajer, CTO of Digital Guardian, said that, “Whether sending an email to the wrong cached email address or misplacing a USB stick, internal employees, third party contactors and customers/prospects are all humans at the end of the day. Human errors can and will happen within any organization, whether careless or spiteful in nature. The Online Trust Alliance found that almost one-third (29%) of data losses are caused by staff – whether done maliciously or accidentally, so looking within your organization for potential threats is imperative to get a sound sleep.”

Ryan Armstrong, director of IT support of Miles Technologies turned his worried eyes towards social engineering, asking, “Do we have processes to ensure that people are who they say they are? Have we educated the users enough on the dangers that are out there?”

Interestingly, two of our respondents framed their concerns through the lens of marrying the flexibility and freedom demanded by today’s workforce with IT’s charge of maintaining security.

Beth Hendriks, CTO of SciQuest said that, “The explosion of mobile devices and cloud-based technology has introduced a whole new set of IT-related questions that keep me up at night. First and foremost is how we as a company effectively develop secure and private systems and databases that are also flexible enough to accommodate employees’ needs to access assets outside of the office so they can complete their jobs.”

And Shaun Murphy, founder of PrivateGiant, also tackled the problem of productivity and accessibility of information versus security, stating that, “Having all of your company data always available and accessible is great for productivity, not so great when a piece of malware rips through your network or a hacker gets in and transfers all of your data to somewhere in China. All data, all systems should be encrypted per user/group that need access and have strict access controls and auditing in place for computer use, file access, directory listing, etc.. All modern computers and operating systems have the structure in place to do this.”

Do these experts’ internal concerns align with your own, or is something else giving you sleepless nights? Let us know in the comments below.

For more insights on the changing tech and trends shaping enterprise collaboration, download our free eBook “The Future of Business Collaboration: 2015 Edition” today.

This post originally appeared on CIO.com‘s Collaboration Nation blog, sponsored by PGi.

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How to Tell If Your Webinar Was A Success

You’ve produced and hosted a successful webinar. Or so you think.  But how do you know for sure? Along with best practices for promoting and running your webinars, metrics are the third leg of your journey to successful webinars. To help you understand the importance of webinar results, we’ve identified key metrics to help measure the effectiveness of your webinar program.

Download our Webinar Scorecard and you’ll learn how to take control of your next webinar’s metrics. Then request a demo of PGi’s iMeetLive and take advantage of robust pre- and post-event reporting to give you better insight on you webinar’s success.

 

Wearables in the Workplace

Wearable technology is here, but we’re still early in the lifecycle. If you’re like me and already wearing an Android smartwatch, Apple Watch, Pebble or Fitbit, you’re still comfortably in the realm of “early adopter.”

Wearables haven’t yet achieved their iPhone moment, when this new category of device reaches mass adoption and begins to invade the workplace. However, the ability to more easily receive alerts and notifications – a streamlined, personal way to filter information and prioritize actions – is already catching the attention of developers, and has certainly streamlined my workdays quite a bit.

For example, let’s say I’m sitting in an impossibly long meeting where I can’t be using my phone. An email comes in, and my smartwatch unobtrusively alerts me. At a glance, my watch allows me to quickly make judgment calls about whether an email is urgent enough to warrant a response or, in critical situations, whether I should even duck out of my meeting. And it’s all done in a seamless way that helps me stay “in the moment” more than being glued to my phone screen.

These may seem like relatively insignificant improvements over glancing at a smartphone (although we’re doing that upwards of 110 times a day), but in an interconnected workplace where speed is everything, every little improvement positively affects collaboration, productivity and efficiency.

Designing for the Wrist
Creating apps for wearables, while seemingly a novelty today, will eventually mark a key growth point with consumers and businesses. The wearable interaction paradigm means a shift in design philosophy from full-on functionality to brevity. The goal is near-instant access to information in a relatively sparse platform.

For example, PGi’s iMeet® Agenday, our award-winning smart calendar app, is pretty basic when you get right down to it: aggregated calendars and notifications. But with additional, contextually relevant information like LinkedIn profiles and voice-activated access to common meeting features (for instance, sending “I’m running late!” messages), it brings together information that helps you work more productively and efficiently and packages it up into a user experience designed for your wrist.

As the Internet of Things gives way to the Workplace of Things, the influence of wearables will begin to expand. This is just the opening chapter of new technology that will likely have a long story arc. The hardware, features and APIs will continue to evolve, allowing us to craft experiences we can’t even picture yet.

Gird your wrists. With Business Insider predicting the wearable computing market will reach 148 million units by 2019, the wearables are most definitely coming.

For more insights on wearables’ potential impact in the workplace, download our free eBook “The Future of Business Collaboration: 2015 Edition” today.

This post originally appeared on CIO.com’s Collaboration Nation blog, sponsored by PGi. 

5 Worst Webinar Mistakes eBook

Nothing is worse than a webinar with crickets, glitches and awkward moments. Get your free eBook, “The 5 Worst Webinar Mistakes You’re Making (And How to Avoid Them” today from PGi to better navigate the webinar minefield.

Multitasking, short on attention and quick to leave you high and dry, webinar audiences can be a tough crowd. However, if you take the right steps, you can wow them and make the most of your big event.

This quick crash course on webinars will help you look like an experienced pro, even if it’s your very first event. Get five smart solutions to your five worst mistakes by downloading the eBook today!

How Do I Get More ROI From My Online Meeting Software?

What if a tool existed that could truly accelerate work, inspire teamwork and fan the flames of business collaboration? You’d want as many people to use it as possible, of course.

That’s exactly what good online meeting software does for your company, and every time you add a user or strengthen an existing user’s relationship with the technology, you increase your return on investment. The higher your user adoption, the more you multiply the business benefits of online meetings: greater innovation (on less budget), faster time to market and increased sales revenue (because, ultimately, that’s every department’s bottom line).

Here’s how you drive user adoption and ROI from your online meeting software.

Embed Online Meetings Into New Teams
Whether you aim to infiltrate new teams with the technology or breed super users, the key to increasing user adoption is to embed online meetings into employees’ existing workflows.

If your online meeting software wasn’t an enterprise-wide deployment, start testing it in other lines of business to onboard more departments. According to the free whitepaper, “10 Metrics for Measuring ROI of Collaboration,” now from Central Desktop by PGi, you should start by picking the most annoying, slowest process a team complains about:

“Pick something that is particularly irksome at your company and measure the time it takes to complete. Then move that process to a collaboration platform and let the staff know you’re looking to reduce time spent. Measure and repeat.”

Cloud-based online meetings tend to be easy to scale and are versatile enough to satisfy both HR’s need for HD, face-to-face interview software and IT’s daily stand-up meetings from across the country. The more teams you get into the same tool, the more you minimize the costs of maintaining multiple vendors and maximize cross-functional collaboration across your company.

Integrate Online Meetings Within Existing Workflows
On the other hand, if you want to minimize Shadow IT, make online meetings even stickier for existing users. Educate users on complementary products that will help them better integrate the software within their team or individual workflow. Share links to free smart calendar and mobile apps that make it easy to launch the software from anywhere, and show users how to integrate the software with video conference room systems, CRM software, digital workspaces or team collaboration software.

In both cases, it’s also a good idea to build up your software’s reputation within the company:

  • Always measure the ROI for departments using it to entice new users.
  • Use your online meeting software to record executive messages or hold all-hands meetings. Workers across the board are more likely to adopt the technology if executives lead by example.
  • Regularly share bite-size tips for a better user experience: how to bring a call support specialist into the meeting, why you should be recording every meeting, the value of sharing documents and multimedia for engagement, etc.
  • Leverage and advertise your vendor’s online communities for additional support.

Reinvent Work With Online Meetings
However, online meeting software isn’t only an alternative to slower technologies or a magic bullet to speed up tasks. The magic of online meeting technology is that it opens up the possibilities of doing work in a way you’ve never thought possible before. For some teams, that’s an entirely new concept altogether, and they need to experience that magic for themselves.

Reinvent the way you get work done now by starting your free, 30-day trial of iMeet®, a new way to experience online meetings.

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3 Reasons Free Video Chat Apps Hurt Your Business

Thanks to video conferencing, you can cut travel costs, enjoy the freedom of flexible work, improve productivity, accelerate innovation and build better relationships, and now you can do it all for free. Startups, small businesses and enterprises alike can choose free video chat apps to support teamwork and empower sales teams without paying anything.

However, every company should carefully weigh the pros and cons of free video conferencing, because the hidden costs to your business are much greater than you think. For example, here are just three reasons free video chat apps hurt your business.

1. Poor Quality Damages Your Credibility
Free video chat services are typically designed with consumers in mind, not business users, which have very different collaboration needs.  As a result, you can come across lacking professionalism and even innovation by using them.

Audio and video on free apps don’t match the quality of professional video conferencing, and they lack live, in-meeting, 24/7 customer support. So instead of collaborating, you waste time finding DIY solutions to glitches and resources if you use your own IT team to patch up every virtual meeting. In the meantime, guests, often already multitasking, won’t take you seriously or pay attention.

In fact, many free apps were originally designed more as virtual chat forums than true virtual meeting rooms where users feel more like they’re physically in a room together. Professional video conferencing provides seamless access and intuitive interfaces to create a more authentic collaboration environment than free apps.

2. A Lack of Privacy and Security Erodes Trust
A core component of good relationship building is developing trust, and the lack of privacy and security on free video chat services erodes that trust from the beginning. Often, free video chat apps require all participants to register an account or even download an application, whereas professional, cloud-based options allow guests to click a link and/or dial in without registering at all.

This not only makes video conferencing more difficult to join but also riskier. Guests may not want to give away private information at registration just to join your virtual meetings. Plus, free video conferencing typically does not offer full content encryption (softphone, webcam, documents, downloads, chats, etc.), making it inefficient for collaborating on sensitive information.

3.Free Video Rooms Butcher Your Branding
Video conferencing rooms are now extensions of your company and brand, like virtual office entrances and lobbies. This is now the first place many customers, new employees and partners see you and interact with you.

However, instead of fully customizable backgrounds and personalized URLs, you’re often stuck with the default appearance of free video chat apps, and some even post distracting ads (that could possibly display your competition). You work hard to create your company’s unique brand, and the technology you use to meet should represent what your company stands for.

Even if you can get past the limits on how many people can participant on HD video, the uncontrollable bandwidth consumption, the lack of Outlook integration or the limited features of free video chat services, no-frills video conferencing just doesn’t meet the demands of the anywhere, anytime, any-device consumer or workforce. True video conferencing enables greater mobility while providing enhanced security and premium quality, and a successful business knows better than to settle for anything less than a top-notch video conferencing experience.

Are you looking to improve your video conferencing experience? Take a free trial of iMeet® VCR today!

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How to Easily Show Videos During a Web Conference

Successful presentations and virtual meetings require one key ingredient: audience engagement. You want the people watching to be inspired, to learn something, to get excited, to get curious, to ask questions and to walk away ready to take action.

In order to wow them, though, you must deliver a rich, interactive, visually appealing presentation, not a stale meeting stuck in boring slides and long outlines. You need out-of-the-box presentation slides, brilliant takeaways and streaming videos to capture the audience’s attention.

However, what’s even worse than slides bursting with bullet points is a meeting host that fumbles with the web conferencing tool and takes up precious time switching from one medium to another. To ensure your multimedia presentation is seamless, here’s the fastest way to show videos during a web conference.

Store Videos in Your File Library
Commonly, you’ll see presentation slides with URL links that the host clicks to open up videos on a separate web browser, but the fastest way to stream videos is by uploading them directly to the file library in your web conferencing tool. This way, you avoid toggling between programs and tabs or locating online videos that may have been removed or relocated.

For example, if you’re using a web conferencing tool like GlobalMeet® by PGi, simply:

  1. Click “File Library” on the meeting toolbar.
  2. Click the plus sign to add a file or folder to your library.
  3. Select your videos, and upload them to the cloud.
  4. During your web conference, just click on the file in your library to instantly stream it in full-screen mode.

web videos
You can also seamlessly add web video links from YouTube and Vimeo directly to your file library to preview and share during a web conference. From the File Library, click “Add a web video,” search for videos by keyword (or paste a video link) and click the plus sign to add the video link to your library. When you’re ready, click the video title to play it right from your web conference without ever leaving the application.

No one gets a bad seat in the house because GlobalMeet offers the same full-featured experience on a mobile device as a desktop, as well as clear, reliable, hybrid audio. That means even your participants watching from rest stops and airport lounges will get a kick out of your latest cat video intermission.

If your current web conferencing tool doesn’t offer that fast, seamless functionality, isn’t it time you looked for a new one? Give your audience a better meeting by trying GlobalMeet free today.

5 Ways Mobile Meeting Apps Keep Workers Productive on the Road

When workers on the road can’t collaborate on routine tasks during billable work hours, you’re losing time and money. Instead of letting collaboration and teamwork fall by the wayside until workers arrive to their next desktop destination, give your road warriors tools for better mobile collaboration.

Stop rescheduling meetings due to business travel. Here are five ways to keep productivity up on the road by downloading an easy-to-use, professional mobile meeting app:

  1. Get road warriors into every meeting. Some online meeting software makes it difficult enough to join a meeting on a desktop that’s it’s too much of a hassle to even try doing it on a mobile device. Toggling between tabs to find meeting information and navigating online meeting rooms on smaller screens could mean your mobile workers don’t show up at all for meetings. Instead, a mobile meeting app simplifies the process with notifications, one-click access and user-friendly interfaces so workers on the road have no excuse not to join.
  2. Don’t lose rich interactions when workers are on the go. With a mobile meeting app, workers don’t have to join meetings via audio only because even video is on the go. Rich video and web conferencing features enable a visual experience from anywhere and ensure the quality of your communication doesn’t suffer.
  3. Stop limiting mobile collaboration to passive participation. Mobile workers no longer have to be passive participants on mobile meetings. Even on an app, hosting capabilities are available from any device so you don’t have to wait on them to get back on their desktop to present ideas and updates. Simply pass presentation control to any participant, on any device.
  4. Avoid dropped calls and awkward pauses. In case your mobile workers’ lose signal power or have a dying phone battery, a mobile meeting app helps them seamlessly switch devices during a meeting without losing momentum.
  5. Quit losing meeting time to find information. Instead of stalling collaboration to shuffle through documents for data and resources, just upload files to online meeting rooms. It’s all accessible through a mobile meeting app.

If you’re looking for a mobile meeting solution for a consistent experience on any device, see why so many workers on the road use iMeet® apps today. Find all of your contacts in one place, easily sign into online meetings, present, pass control and experience the same rich meeting features iMeet for desktop provides right from your mobile device.

Download the iMeet mobile meeting app today on the App Store or on Google Play.

How Do I Measure the Business Value of Collaboration Tools?

For many users, you know when collaboration tools are successful by the way they make your workday feel easier or your brand look sharper. But it’s important to measure the real business value of your investment beyond soft ROI metrics.

For instance, hard ROI helps you:

  • Defend your decision against critics and showcase the benefits to drive user adoption.
  • Prove the value to your superiors to gain leadership support for the technology.
  • Justify your department’s budget and demonstrate your contributions.
  • Make more informed decisions in the future when you’re considering switching solutions or changing vendors.

Capturing the ROI of Collaboration

Cost Savings
One of the easiest ways to evaluate the business value of collaboration tools is dollars saved. Travel and facility costs are common metrics to monitor, from marketers traveling to trade shows to HR professionals flying in interviewees. Simply compare your monthly travel and facility costs (if you rent rooms for meetings or space for live events) since deploying your solution with the previous year.

Productivity Improvements
Productivity is a top reason many companies buy collaboration tools, but this intangible concept can be hard to measure. Tracking work quantity would be a monstrous task and monitoring quality would be subjective. Instead, track metrics like:

  • Eliminated travel time. Removing downtime while traveling for dispersed teams and workers in the field translates into more productive hours.
  • Shortened time-to-hire. HR professionals can do even more in the same amount of time when video conferencing speeds up the hiring process.
  • Increases in engagement and interaction. Attendance, questions, downloads and survey responses indicate improvements to online-enabled training, since those activities help employees better retain information.
  • Projects completed ahead of or on time. If you’re using online team workspaces, you can easily view built-in reports to compare project acceleration and missed deadlines.
  • Cuts in absenteeism. Instead of completely checking out when life happens, employees that have means to collaborate and access work remotely keep productivity up.
  • Diminished service requests or ticket resolution time. If IT gains more time and resources to tackle projects outside of operational tasks, it proves your technology is reliable and your vendor’s service effective enough to practically run on its own.
  • Faster time-to-market. Anyone involved in launching a new product (marketing, engineers) gains time to do more when your time-to-market accelerates due to collaboration.
  • Dips in client complaints. If your collaboration solution is customer-facing, monitor improvements in customer service and client interactions by how satisfaction improves.

Revenue Growth
Sales and marketing teams that use collaboration tools to increase customer interactions, improve customer relationships and target new leads can tie new collaboration technology directly to revenue growth. If you’re using a professional webcasting solution to reach new leads, pre- and post-event reports provide instant insights on the impact of a single web event on your demand generation and lead nurturing. And collaboration solutions integrated with Salesforce help sales view the impact of video conferencing and online presentations on pipeline velocity.

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Why You Should Record All of Your Webinars

A webinar is a major production that requires strategic thought and planning, so there’s no doubt you want to make sure as many people as possible will see it. That’s why recording your webinar is one of the most important elements of successful webinar marketing.

Your webinar recording can serve up some serious value to your marketing and sales departments, as well as registrants. Check out the main benefits of recording your webinar and how it can serve as a resource for your company and prospects:

Missing Out: Webinars serve as a major source of informative, engaging content for your registrants. After all, they are there to learn something valuable, but what happens if the webinar is scheduled during a time that a portion of registrants can’t make it?

Whether it’s due to different time zones or scheduling conflicts, sometimes your registrants will sign up knowing they cannot make the webinar, but they will expect you to send out a recording of the webinar after the event is over. Make sure you meet that expectation by recording the webinar and sending it out in a follow up email.

Reuse and Repurpose: The best way to improve your ROI and extend the value of your webinar is to reuse and repurpose the webinar recording.

Like we mentioned before, a webinar is a big production. From finding panelists and hosts to the logistics of conducting a live event, webinars can take up a lot of your team’s time and budget.

By reusing webinar recording, you can extend its value as a marketing and sales resource for your company.  Repurpose your webinar recording to engage a larger untapped audience with:

  • Follow up discussions on social media
  • A blog post recapping the event with key takeaways
  • Content for your next newsletter
  • Guest blog posts from your speakers
  • A Slide Share with key takeaways
  • Create a webinar archive on your homepage

Your sales teams can also benefit from reusing the webinar recording. They’ll be able to use similar tactics above to target a specific audiences in order to obtain the ultimate webinar ROI—a closed deal.

Webinars continue to be a robust content delivery system for both customers and employees. Whether your goal is to present a new product, educate industry peers or train employees, recording your webinar will make sure no one misses your important message.

Want to learn more about webinars? Request a free trial of PGi’s iMeetLive, an easy way to create professional quality webinars.

How to Get the Most out of Virtual Meetings

Working remote may be a leisure for some, but according to a survey done by the London Business School, more than half of the workforce will be working remote by 2020, meaning virtual meetings will become the norm for conducting business.

Virtual meetings are practical, cost-effective and essential for businesses as remote work continues to rise in popularity. And getting the most out of virtual meeting experiences is crucial for hosting productive assemblies. Check out these features that will help you get the most out of your next virtual meeting:

Audio: Audio is a key element to any virtual meeting. Having clear audio through a virtual meeting application is crucial for communication purposes, and it also helps cut costs. If you’re using a VoIP calling feature, instead of relying on PSTN (public switched telephone network), you’ll be able to cut carrier costs on both domestic and international calls.

Video: Oftentimes virtual meetings rely heavily on video. Why? Because non-verbal cues through webcams are crucial to truly understanding each other. From eye contact and facial expressions to how someone is dressed, these cues establish a type of communication that we would otherwise miss with just audio conferencing. Video also keeps meeting attendees engaged, prevents multitasking, and keeps the whole team connected throughout the meeting.

Document Sharing: Leverage the power of document sharing to collaborate in real-time. Document sharing within a virtual meeting can give attendees access to files like meeting agendas or hand-outs relevant to the meeting. They can also upload and share documents with all those attending the virtual meeting.

Chat: Use a live-chat feature to encourage engagement among those participating in your virtual meeting. Share ideas and ask questions for all participants to see, without interrupting the audio during the meeting.

Note Taking: Note taking, available on virtual meeting tools like PGi’s iMeet®, allows anyone participating in the meeting to start a virtual notepad. You can take notes on the meeting, write reminders for a follow up and create to-do lists for the group.

Recording and Share: Just like a DVR that records your favorite shows at home, virtual meetings can also be recorded, depending on your software. Virtual meeting solutions like iMeet allow users to record and send the meeting through a URL. All video, audio, document sharing, chats and note taking are recorded so no one misses anything important.

As remote work becomes more popular, virtual meetings will evolve from being a tool that’s “nice to have” to a necessity for everyday business practice. Ready to make the most of your next virtual meeting? Try PGi’s iMeet, free for 30 days, to take advantage of all of the features mentioned above.

Can’t get enough information on remote and telework? Check out PGi’s second annual Global Telework Survey. You’ll get insights about trends and perceptions of telework around the globe.

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4 Ways to Use Polls & Surveys to Boost Audience Engagement

Crafting an engaging experience for your meeting participants is key to a successful presentation. There are numerous features of web conferencing that can help boost audience engagement if used properly, including surveys and polls. Using these web conferencing features to get your meeting attendees involved will help create exciting and memorable online presentations.

Along with creating a more engaging experience, these tools can also help you learn more about your guests, providing valuable information and insights for future meetings, webinars or other content.

Here are a few ways you can benefit from utilizing these interactive web conferencing features during your next online meeting:

Learn what your audience is looking for. Before you invest time and money in an event like a webinar that you hope your audience will benefit from, create a poll asking what kind of information they would like to see in your webinar. To narrow down results, give participants various options to choose from. Not only will you get your audience thinking before your event, but you’ll also make sure you’re getting the best ROI on your next webinar before putting it together.

Generate content. Insights from your audiences—often those who are valuable voices in your industry – make for intriguing content for various outlets. Extend the value of your poll by using your guests’ answers as springboards for additional content, including blogs, eBooks, white papers, social media posts, and of course, more webinars.

Get social. Before your webinar even begins, create a social media strategy. Establish a hashtag for your event so your audience can live-tweet from their accounts. Encourage the use of built-in Twitter widgets during your event and give your guests an excuse to socialize. You’ll not only get the audience engaged, but you’ll also extend your reach to their networks.

Receive valuable feedback. While both surveys and polls are valuable before and during your event, don’t forget about the after! Curious if your attendees’ expectations were met during your event, or how they feel about the products you’re selling? Just ask! A simple, one-to-two question post-event poll can provide valuable insight as to the effectiveness of your presentation, its content and your products and services.

Regardless of your goal for the survey or poll, you’ll be able to receive valuable insights from the people who matter most – your audience.

Not only can you grab your audience’s attention with interactive web conferencing features like surveys and polls, but you’ll be able to create engaging content from the results. Looking for a tool that offers these web conferencing features? Check out PGi’s GlobalMeet®, free for 30 days.

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How to Personalize Your Online Meeting Space

Being able to customize your online meeting space gives your meeting attendees a unique way to identify with you and your company, and ensures them they’ve “made it to the right place”. Clients and customers will feel a deeper connection with your organization through the personalization, instead of logging into a plain, dull corporate meeting room.

Through unique URLs, bio descriptions, photos and more, you can easily create an online meeting space that assures a more personal environment and engaging experience for your customers and clients.

You can personalize your online meeting space by modifying the following:

URL: Creating a custom, persistent URL for your online meeting space is both helpful for you, the host, and for your meeting participants. Hosting a meeting to showcase a product to a prospect or working with colleagues on a project? Customize your URL with the company name, product or project name before sending the link in your meeting invitation.

This will assure your participants they’re entering the right meeting. It also keeps things simple for you, as you can quickly launch a meeting and have attendees join via a simple URL—ideal for those spur of the moment meetings.

Background: With PGi’s iMeet®, there are a host of preloaded animated backgrounds or themes that you can chose before your online meeting starts. From cities to landscapes, these animated backgrounds allow you to tell a story about yourself and your personality without ever saying a word.

Some meeting tools even offer full branding and customization, allowing you to put your brand forward as part of every online meeting you host. You can customize a theme according to your corporate design or create a background with your prospect or client’s logo, giving your meeting a competitive advantage.

Bio: Filling out your bio is a great way to let your participants know a little bit about you, and can even serve as an icebreaker before your meeting starts. In your bio description, consider highlighting your hobbies, passions, where you grew up or even a motto you live by. Bio descriptions are a way to give some insight to your personal life, spark a conversation and put participants at ease before your meeting begins.

Photo: Finally, having a photo of yourself gives participants the opportunity to put a face with a name. Depending on who you are meeting with, this photo could be a professional headshot, a picture of you and your family or even your favorite team’s sports logo.

Regardless of your meeting’s agenda, following this guide to personalizing your online meeting space will ensure a comfortable meeting experience for you and your participants. If you’re ready to take advantage of an online meeting tool that allows you to customize your meeting space, try PGi’s iMeet, free for 30 days.

How to Get Social with Virtual Meeting Participants

Today, professionals are connecting with each other online more than ever through tools like virtual meeting solutions and social media. What happens when you merge the two? Meeting magic.

Social media helps you establish and build long-term business relationships by making meetings more personal and providing a forum to continue the conversation after the meeting. Your social media profiles give guests a more holistic view of who you are: what you’re interested in, what your values are and even how you communicate. And when participants can learn more about each other, more meaningful conversations come out of each virtual meeting.

Telecommuters can bond over vacation photos on Flickr, marketers can share inspiring links they find on Twitter and sales teams can compare LinkedIn connections. Social features are incredibly beneficial not only for your internal team meetings but also for external meetings with partners, video interviews with candidates and sales meetings with prospects.

The ability to socially connect right from your virtual meeting room makes it easier to draw brand advocates to engage in your company’s online conversations, to nurture sales leads and to grow your own social audience (because let’s face it, these days everyone has a professional brand). And once you see that the other person in the meeting room shares a connection with you, it makes it much easier to forge authentic connections when you meet someone for the first time.

How to Connect Your Social Profiles to iMeet

PGi’s virtual meeting solution, iMeet®, offers social integration with the most popular social networking sites so you can build your connections within your meetings. Setting up your social networks in your virtual meeting space is a simple process.

To seamless integrate Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn or Twitter, follow these steps:

Facebook:

  1. Click on the app, and if you’re not already, sign in to Facebook.
  2. Click “Okay” to give the app permission to connect your personal profile with iMeet.
  3. Facebook will open in your browser. Click “Okay” to give iMeet access to your profile.
  4. Click “Okay” or “Skip” to let iMeet post on your behalf.

Flickr

  1. Click on the app.
  2. Enter your Yahoo! ID and click “Share.”
  3. Optional: Click the Flickr gear icon to share private albums, too.

LinkedIn

  1. Click the app.
  2. Click “Okay” to authorize iMeet to connect with your LinkedIn profile.
  3. LinkedIn will open in your browser. Sign in, if you’re not already.
  4. The following page will have a security code. Enter it into your iMeet app and click “Submit.”

Twitter

  1. Click the app.
  2. Click “Okay” to give iMeet permission to connect with Twitter.
  3. Twitter will open in your browser. Click “Authorize app” to give iMeet access to your account.
  4. The following page will give you a PIN number. Enter it into your iMeet app and click “Tweet Now.”

With the apps enabled, now guests can expand your cube to preview your social media profiles. For example, they can see your Facebook friends and photos; they can browse your Flickr photos; they can preview your job title, location, industry, past experience and education from LinkedIn and they’ll preview a snippet of your last tweet.

In addition, you now have the ability to easily connect with others, post your personal virtual meeting URL to social media and export social media contacts to Outlook, all from iMeet.

Tips to Invite Your Meeting Participants to Connect

iMeet social appsSocial media is meant to be a two-way conversation. So how do you encourage everyone else in the meeting to connect their profiles, too? The best thing you can do is lead by example and show, don’t tell, how it’s useful.

Once you connect all of your social apps, let your participants know that they can ask you questions or stay in touch after meeting by connecting with you directly from iMeet. This demonstrates the relationship-building functionality without having to set rigid guidelines for your guests.

And to show everyone how enriching and fun it is to show your personal interests on social, bring it up in conversation. As an aside, talk about a recent trip that everyone can see on your Facebook or Flickr photos. Mention an interesting article you read and just posted to Twitter, or broadcast a LinkedIn group you just started that others can join.

Mixing personal profiles with business meetings may not seem appropriate to some people, but once you demonstrate the benefits of getting social, it’s much easier to drive the change.

If your current virtual meeting solution is missing that social sauce, try iMeet free for 30 days. Invite your entire team into the room to see the difference a more personalized experience makes in your virtual meeting.

Advanced Webinar Tips to Engage Your Audience

The average adult attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to 8.25 seconds since 2000. Because we are used to constantly multitasking throughout the workday, it can be difficult to stay focused on one subject. This is especially true during presentations like webinars. To combat short attention spans and keep audiences engaged in your next webinar event, check out these advanced webinar tips and tricks:

Interaction before the event: Sparking interest early about your webinar is key to getting participants engaged, even before your event is live. Some webinar software is equipped with features that allow for document uploads, video links, adding pre-course materials or creating tests prior to your event.

These features work exceedingly well if your event is dedicated to training. These tools can also help establish the knowledge level of your webinar topic and gives your attendees a sneak peek of what to expect from your upcoming event. Use social media tools to encourage feedback and discussion before the webinar as well.

Engage and Interact: The most obvious way to keep your audience engaged is through engaging conversation. Whether you’re presenting to small or large group, keeping an interactive conversation going is one of the most important tactics you can use.

Utilize polling, survey and Q&A features that are available on webinar software, like PGi’s GlobalMeet Webinar®, to get feedback from your audience. These tools should guide your webinar content, so be prepared to adapt your presentation based on what you learn from questions, comments and survey results.

Another tried-and-true way to engage your audience is with a captivating speaker. The right speaker cannot only draw in an audience, but can keep them engaged. Speakers don’t have to be limited to a single person either. Consider having a roundtable of panelist who are experts in your topic and have them engage with the audience with a Q&A session.

These speakers will also be of significant value when it comes to building buzz before and after the event. Negotiate with your speakers and ask them to leverage their social media profiles and networks to promote the webinar before and to keep the conversation going after.

Memorable visuals and content: Northwestern University professor D.A. Norman proved that aesthetics matter as “attractive things work better,” bringing out more productive and happy results. So when we say design matters, we mean it!

The majority of your engagement should come from your visuals and content. If slide decks are your presentation style, use a theme to capture your audience’s attention and drive home your message. Include background, font, layout, images and multimedia throughout the presentation.

Avoid boring your audience with content by limiting text-based materials. Keep things visually stimulating, and you’ll be more likely to keep your audience engaged.

Use these advanced tips and tricks to make sure your next webinar is an engaging success. If you’re ready to learn more about creating memorable presentations for your next webinar event check out The Little Black Book of Presentations eBook, free to download.

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3 Tools to Create Visuals for Your Online Meetings

Adding visual content to your online meetings is a great way to keep participants engaged and interested. Far too often it can be difficult to find the right stock image, slide design or font to customize your presentation with traditional tools. Instead, using online (and often free) visual creation tools is a great alternative to design those custom visuals.

Check out these three tools that can help you customize and create engaging visuals for your next online meeting:

Custom graphics:  Looking for an easy way to grab your audiences’ attention during online meetings? Canva is a free online tool that creates designs for Web or print. This tool gives you all the elements you need to create custom graphics for your blog posts, online meetings and presentations, social media profiles, flyers, posters, invitations and more.

Canva has a very user-friendly interface which is accessible both on a desktop and on an iPad. During the creation process you’ll be able to drag and drop images—either uploaded by you, or one of Canva’s free and premium images—into the design template. You can also edit these pictures by adjusting brightness, contrast or filters. Need to add creative font to the image? Canva has thousands of fonts that aren’t available in traditional design tools like PowerPoint or Word.

If you’re not sure where to start with creating the perfect visual for your next online meeting, Canva offers easy-to-follow tutorials in its “design school”. You can also see what other users are creating to spark your creative mind. Once you’ve created your masterpiece, you’ll be able to download and save the files to your computer so you can easily access them for your online meeting.

Infographic: Infographics are also a great way to engage your audience during online meetings. If you’re in need of an infographic and don’t want to pay a third party to create it, try Easel.ly. The online tool features thousands of free templates and design objects to create a completely customized infographic.

The site is easy to use with drag and drop elements, an extensive library of premade templates and the ability to upload your own graphics for backgrounds. The design tool features “vhemes” or pre-designed themes and objects like icons, shapes, text and charts. So, if you’re feeling creative, you have the ability to completely customize an infographic for your online meeting.

When you’ve finished your infographic, you can either save your design online for future edits or download your creation to your computer as a low or high quality jpeg, or as a PDF.

Simple graphics with text: Incorporating simple graphics into online meetings can clarify key takeaways while boosting audience engagement. If you’re looking for a simple tool to create a graphic with text for your online meetings, try the Over app available on iTunes and Google Play. This tool is strictly mobile, and doesn’t feature as many tools as the previously mentioned online tools, but if you’re constantly on the go and need to create something quickly for an online meeting, this is a great alternative.

Over lets you choose from photos or graphics from a variety of artists and gives you the ability to add unique text or icons. In the app you can size, rotate, fade, center and copy your artwork and text. When you’re done you have the ability to save your image to your camera roll. While this tool is not necessarily ideal for large-scale visual design, it’s great for mobile workers who need to create engaging visuals.

Now that you have some great, easy-to-use tools for creating a visually stimulating graphic for your next online presentation, why not try them out with an online meeting toolTry PGi’s iMeet free for 30 days and see how easy it is to share presentations, graphics or infographics with colleagues, partners and clients.

 

How to Use Visuals to Engage Virtual Meeting Participants

You have an idea that needs to be heard, a problem that needs to be solved or a room of workers that needs to be inspired, but if no one’s fully paying attention, you can’t get the results you really want.

Engagement is always a challenge when you’re hosting meetings. Whether you’re in a conference room or a virtual meeting room, guests will check out if they don’t feel compelled to pay attention.

Your best solution: using visual content to engage virtual meeting participants.

Why Visuals Are Powerful
People understand what you’re saying faster and remember it longer with visual aids. About 65 percent of the population learns best through visuals, which demonstrates the transformative power that they can have on your meetings.

Images and videos condense information into smaller chunks, and when you choose the right visuals, they provide more clarity than longer copy or spoken presentations. People also more easily associate emotions with visuals, which make what you’re saying more impactful and memorable than words alone.

On top of improving learning, visuals also mix up your format to keep guests on their toes. When no one knows what’s coming next, they’re more apt to pay attention.

Use these ideas to incorporate more visuals into your virtual meeting experience.

virtual meeting visuals

Share Your Screen
First, share your screen to incorporate presentation slides, show and tell with graphs, or share videos.

  • You can turn your entire meeting into a presentation with simple tools like SlideShare, or just intermittently integrate slides to denote the beginning, middle and end of your presentation and turn it into a story.
  • Instead of listing your latest results or growth goals, plot the numbers on a chart or graph. It’s much faster and easier to understand the bigger picture when you can see everything at once.
  • Play a video clip or share an image that will excite your audience.

Present a File
The ability to upload a file into your virtual meeting room is a convenient way to not only share large files but also engage your meeting participants.

  • Instead of sending out presentations or meeting agendas ahead of time, upload it to your meeting room so participants have to be present to get the information.
  • If you’re giving feedback or constructive criticism in a meeting, display documents or collateral with your edits and comments.
  • Upload a leave-behind visual to your meeting room. Make it a simple, powerful diagram that communicates the single most important part of your meeting – your goal, the next steps, astonishing results or a vexing problem to think about.

iMeet Online Meetings

Turn on Your Webcam
Finally, and most importantly, turn on your webcam. So many workers miss out on one of the most engaging visual components of hosting virtual meetings – the ability to actually see each other in real time.

  • Leverage your own eye contact and body language to better narrate your story.
  • Turn your webcam on a live visual like an idea map or diagram drawn in real time.
  • Set up a science fair-style display to guide your participants through the meeting in a non-conventional manner.

Communication is more non-verbal than most people realize, so without the right visuals, without the best video quality, your virtual meeting participants aren’t quite receiving everything you’re trying to communicate.

However, with full stage, HD video, you now have the capacity to reach and engage your meeting participants like never before, no matter where they are.

For a more immersive, engaging face-to-face meeting experience, try iMeet® now.

Featured Image Source: Gratisography

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