HR in the Virtual Workplace

Human Resources is one of the most important departments in any business. And while these departments rely on face-to-face communication, in a virtual workplace, communication and collaboration with employees can be tricky. In this webinar, PGi will discuss who HR teams and employees can work together to keep HR functions running smoothly, regardless of their locations.

Check out the webinar now, with our host, Nancy Applegarth, PGi Customer Training Specialist, to find out more about HR in the virtual workplace.

Using Virtual Meetings to Train Employees

One way virtual meetings serve businesses of all sizes is with better employee training.

In-person training events successfully engage employees but cost time and money. Passive online training (such as emails, slideshows and online documents) offers flexibility but limits interaction.

Today’s online training tools offer the best of both worlds, including interaction and efficiency. Here’s how virtual meetings solve both problems.

Interaction: Face-to-Face Online Training

The nuances of communication — gestures, tone, body language — are not lost in virtual meetings. When used for employee training, attendees experience the same personal connection as in-person events.

Online training software provides a variety of ways for attendees to interact, like real-time and streaming video, screen sharing, public and private chat, polls and surveys. With ample opportunities for employees to ask questions and participate, they engage more, and this increased engagement leads to higher knowledge retention.

That interaction also offers companies the means to get feedback to improve training programs, as well as easily analyze the ROI of online training events. In addition to seeing who joined and how long they attended, post-event reports sum up levels of engagement.

Efficiency: Convenient, Cost-Effective Training

Moving training online means companies don’t have to stop the engine to transfer new information to workers. In fact, virtual meetings accelerate training with quicker deliveries of information.

Because no one has to leave their work location to attend, they can quickly return to work once training’s over, resulting in less downtime and increased productivity. This also makes training more flexible and convenient for mobile employees like telecommuters and professionals in the field.

By offering anywhere, anytime access to online training, virtual meetings save companies money on travel, venues and print collateral for training events. Instead of booking flights and conference rooms, over 100 people meet at once online, and these live sessions can be recorded and repurposed for on-demand viewing or intranet archives.

Virtual meetings are easy enough for anyone outside of IT to host themselves: human resources can onboard employees, sales managers can update entire sales teams and marketing can share new campaigns with sales professionals in the field.

Plus, security features ensure that training documents, videos and sensitive internal information are accessed by only the appropriate people.

Capturing Engagement Online

Some business educators argue that online training can’t hold attention as well as meeting in person. However, just like all virtual and in-person meetings, the level of engagement isn’t entirely determined by the method of delivery but also by the event structure.

Since employees in online trainings are less visible, they have more freedom to multitask. Just like when minds wander during in-person events, however, it is the host’s role to employ all the tools and tactics available to demand full attention. No matter where employees meet to learn, they always need constant activities to stay engaged, as well as content with a narrow focus to retain information.

Operation: Millennials, A Field Guide

Leading experts in HR, leadership and workplace education reveal how to lead this unique set of workers known as Millennials for the growth and advancement of your business.

Interview on the Benefits of Virtual Interviewing and Video Conferencing for HR

Online interviewing is a trend on the rise, and HR is constantly having to reinvent itself to keep up with modern technology trends. Tools like web and video conferencing have transformed the possibilities for traditional human resources activities such as interviews, onboarding, orientation, benefits presentations and more. Consider the following stats from PGi’s Online Job Interviews infographic:

  • Online job interviews have increased by 49% since 2011;
  • 66% of candidates prefer to use video during the interview process;
  • 6 in 10 HR managers use video to interview candidates; and
  • Up to 93% of communication is non-verbal, giving video interviews a significant advantage over traditional phone interviews.

On the PGi Blog, I recently had the opportunity to interview Kim Pettibone, a 20+ year HR veteran who has seen first-hand the efficiency gains that collaboration technologies can bring to the hiring process. An excerpt from the interview appears below:

Josh Erwin: In today’s era of virtual connections, how has technology such as web conferencing affected the recruiting process?

Kim Pettibone: Efficiency gains! There’s nothing like connecting with someone live, virtually. It may be a virtual connection, but it’s as live as you can get, and sometimes it’s even more telling than a face-to-face interview.

* * *

JE: Has a virtual interview ever revealed things about a candidate that you wouldn’t have gotten through just a phone interview?

KP: We’re a technology company, so comfort level with technology is something we’re always on the lookout for, particularly for our sales teams. When we’re interviewing to fill multiple sales positions, we’ll invite candidates into live iMeet® sessions to chat with sales leaders. The ones that are the most comfortable with virtual communication and tools will come in early, set up their profiles, try out the VoIP connections and other features, etc. People who have the aptitude for it will really get into the thick of things.

To read the full interview, visit the PGi Blog!

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The Value of Non-Verbal Communication

There’s no denying that businesses are becoming more global. The days of local suppliers and contacts are not as common as they once were. Today’s worker may have a morning meeting with a prospect who is three states away, a mid-afternoon meeting with a European client, followed by a brainstorming session with colleagues who are all over the country.

While innovative technology has made schedules like these incredibly easy to manage, many of these modes of communication lack face-to-face contact. Non-verbal communication is vital when building business relationships, staying connected with colleagues and recruiting new talent.

Studies tell us that up to 93 percent of communication is non-verbal. This shows there is a lot of context lost in telephone conversations or emails. Online meeting tools are especially valuable in the HR and Sales departments.

HR

With top talent spread around the world, it is impossible for recruiters to visit every qualified job candidate. Online meeting tools allow recruiters to see prospects face-to-face no matter their geographic locations. When conducting a virtual interview, a recruiter is able to pick up on visual cues that otherwise would have gone undetected. An applicant who dresses inappropriately for an interview shows they are not taking the job seriously and probably will not represent the company in a professional manner. You can also assess the person’s surroundings as well. Are they in a professional setting? Is their work space messy or organized? Comparing expectations about this person to his or her background can be very helpful.

Sales

Now, companies are pursuing prospects from around the world. Instead of spending money and time to travel to visit each and every one, online meeting tools make the process much more affordable and simpler. Video conferencing software allows you to evaluate the body language of your prospects. You can assess their eye contact, posture and various expressions. While posture may simply be an indicator of a person’s level of professionalism, eye contact can be important for creating a rapport with a potential client or vendor. Facial expressions can also indicate a lot. A bored face is a clue to speed up a presentation, a frown indicates it may be time to change tack and a smile is reassurance that the pitch is going well.

Face-to-face communication can help in all types of situations—whether it’s hiring the right candidate for the job, placing a large order or closing a client deal. Thanks to innovative technology, face-to-face doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be in the same room. Video conferencing can give you the necessary information to make the best possible decisions.

Would you like more information on how to perform your best the next time you’re on video? Make sure you check out our online interview infographic: Body Language Secrets for Recruiters and Job Seekers to get all the tips you need.

Four Body Language Secrets to Remember for Your Next Video Conference

Did you know only seven percent of a message is conveyed by words? The remaining 93 percent consists of tone of voice (38 percent) and body language (55 percent), according to research by Albert Mehrabian, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at UCLA.

When communicating over the phone, people are forced to rely only on words and tone of voice. When not able to see facial expressions and other body language, a message can easily be misconstrued. This is one reason why many companies are turning to video conferencing products to connect with long-distance prospects and current clients.

Traditional face-to-face and virtual meetings are very similar. For both, you want to be dressed appropriately and be prepared. However, when participating in a video conference, there are some additional steps you should be aware of. These 4 tips will ensure that you’re next virtual meeting is a success:

1.      Maintain good posture

While working on a computer all day, you find positions that make you more comfortable. Although sitting on your feet and slouching over your computer may feel relaxing, it doesn’t look professional.

The first thing you should do is sit up straight in your chair. If you lean slightly toward the camera, you will instantly appear like an interested and attentive listener. Also, if you have a swivel chair, fight the urge to rock back and forth. That’s one distraction you don’t need.

2.      Practice with the camera

Before signing into your next virtual meeting, turn your camera on and make sure it’s angled appropriately. You don’t want it too low or too high—eye level is ideal. You also want to check the lighting. Bright lights that are behind you may cast a shadow over your face, making it difficult to see you. Additionally, you always want to make sure your camera isn’t picking up anything inappropriate or messy in the background.

3.      Make eye contact

You’ve probably heard that you should maintain eye contact when speaking to someone. This gets a little tricky during a video conference. Naturally, when it’s your turn to speak, you’re going to want to look at the people on the screen. However, to appear as if you’re making eye contact, you need to look directly into the camera. If you look at others on the screen, it will appear as if you’re looking down.

If you have a free-standing camera, try and place it right above the screen. This way you’ll be able to glance at others on the screen while speaking without being too obvious.  

4. Be aware of facial expressions

Not only can you see a smile, but you can also hear it. When you smile, the soft palate at the back of your mouth rises up and makes sound waves more fluid. This helps give you a warmer and friendlier tone. Conversely, the muscles used for frowning can make your voice sound more clipped and irritated—and it looks bad. Before beginning your meeting, put on a smile so you can give a good impression.

No matter if you’re meeting with colleagues, clients or preparing for an online interview, understanding and maintaining good body language is vital to your success.

To learn more about video conferencing and other collaboration trends, download our free eBook: The Future of Business Collaborations.

How to Manage Millennials Virtually

The nature of management, as with most areas of today’s business, is constantly evolving and changing through the introduction of new work practices, schedules and technologies powering collaboration and communication among teams. In particular, the adoption of video and web conferencing technologies is empowering the new era of the remote manager, where leaders and their direct reports may not be in the same city, state or even country!

Millennials, the largest generation currently in the workforce today, are tech-savvy, social creatures and can respond well to remote leadership, provided the proper tools are in place. I, for example, am a Millennial with a remote manager and the experience has been flawless thanks to near-daily face-to-face interactions with my manager over iMeet®.

Here are some best practices for virtually managing your teams:

Be Attentive but Don’t Smother
One of the biggest concerns of remote managers is being able to check-in regularly and ensure that their direct reports are actually working and that they’re receiving all of the attention and instruction that they need. It’s important, especially early on, to build trust and regularly reach out to your employees to understand their unique work styles and what, if anything, they need from you.

Millennials in particular crave mentorship but don’t want to be smothered or feel like they’re being constantly “checked up on.” Over time, develop a strategy of reporting and communication so that you can be apprised of your reports’ progress and needs while simultaneously helping them feel accomplished and effectively lead.

Understand and Embrace Technology
Obviously remote management entails a technology component, even if it’s just a phone call or an email. However, these types of old-school interactions are lost on Gen Y, who far prefer texting and Facebooking to picking up the phone.

In order to really engage your direct reports virtually, you need to engage them in an intuitive, personal and social technology environment that allows you to build rapport and develop trust even across long distances. The high-definition video, personalized backgrounds and profile pictures and social media integration of iMeet makes it a perfect tool for remote managers and their Millennial reports. And employees of all generations are becoming increasingly comfortable with video in all aspects of business. In fact, 66% of job candidates prefer to use video during the interview process; they’re comfortable with the technology before you even hire them!

Best of all, iMeet features a suite of mobile apps for smartphones and tablets, keeping both managers and direct reports connected even while on-the-go.

Share, Educate, Inspire
In a recent Forbes article on the qualities of a modern manager, author Jacob Morgan wrote, “Today managers cannot believe in hoarding information but in sharing information and collective intelligence.” A culture of sharing, both personally and professionally, is vital to building trust and rapport between managers and direct reports. Whether it’s a best practice you’ve developed over the years, vital business intelligence or just a story about your family’s recent vacation, opening up to your reports makes them feel included in business decisions and more engaged and connected to you as a leader.

Millennials, the generation of Facebook and Twitter, are a sharing culture, and feeling that connection with their managers, particularly remote ones, is a vital element to effective virtual management.

For more tips and insights on remote workers, download PGi’s free eBook!

21 Fun Presentation Ideas to Kick the Dull Out of Your Online Meetings

Fun presentation ideas alert! New eBook, The Little Black Book of Presentation Ideas, is your new go-to guide to kick the dull out of your presentations with 21 thrilling, daring and game-changing tricks.

Presentation skills and public speaking are vital for business success. But the “presentation paradox” afflicts businesses, webinars, and meetings everywhere. According to the eBook’s sources:

32% of audience members have fallen asleep during a boring presentation.
30% snuck out of a bad presentation at least once.
21% would rather do their taxes.

BUT… powerful presentations can transform your work and life:

  • Improved job performance
  • Visibility to decision makers
  • Career advancement
  • Peer leadership
  • Relationship building
  • Negotiation and success.

The eBook uses 21 amazing tactics, from Slides Done Right to The ‘IT’ Factor, to help business professionals everywhere thrill their audiences with engaging slide decks and some off-the-wall presentation skills.

To download the free eBook, which was featured by CNN Money and Fortune Magazine, go to: http://bit.ly/12triN2 or just click the button below!

Want to get in on the fun presentation ideas action? Post your idea on Twitter using #presentationskills @PGi or comment on PGi’s SlideShare “Fun Presentation Ideas” page. Your idea could be featured as tip #22 in the eBook.

How to Present Benefits Orientation to Employees That Doesn’t Put Them to Sleep

Open enrollment for healthcare benefits, an annual occurrence for almost any organization of all sizes and industries, is a busy time for Human Resource departments. It’s a period when employers set aside time to educate employees on group benefits that are available. The primary goal is to ensure employees have all the information they need to make informed decisions on which healthcare and related benefits are the right fit for their families and budget.

This process can often be complex and confusing, and effective communication is vital to ensure its success. Many of today’s global companies face the challenge of finding the best way to communicate this information to associates who may be located all over the world.

PGi found a multi-faceted solution to this challenge by creating a unique and interactive experience using iMeet and GlobalMeet. Karrie Andes, PGi’s Sr. Benefits Manager, wanted to create a virtual health benefits fair to further engage associates and make it more convenient to participate.

The challenge
Karrie was responsible for ensuring that PGi associates fully understood the various plans and all the information presented. There was a great deal of new and important information to share—including a new high deductible consumerism plan, a new wellness program and various free benefits that weren’t previously offered as a result of the Affordable Care Act of 2010.

Engaging associates can be difficult enough, but Karrie’s challenge exponentially increased by needing to reach associates who were located in 36 different states, 25 percent of whom worked from home. Karrie needed to customize her communications plan according to her workforce. Not to mention, Karrie only had two months to plan when most companies typically have six months or more to communicate consumer-driven health plans.

Karrie’s communications plan
Knowing she couldn’t bombard PGi associates with daily messages without being ignored, Karrie selected specific dates to send out reminders and notices. She also sent postcards to the homes of employees to vary the communication media.

Karrie knew she had to make open enrollment more fun and interactive to better engage employees. As a result, she implemented various quizzes throughout the process. Answers were scattered throughout PGi’s intranet site and winners were offered gift cards and other prizes.

Instead of simply listing benefit information in a traditional boring handbook, Karrie created a new handbook with bright colors, simpler language and incorporated the PGi Guy as the benefits mascot. Also included was a glossary page that defined key terms frequently used in consumer-driven plans.

The virtual fair
Creating a virtual experience eliminated the need for travel and made it convenient for all associates to participate—including those who work from home. Karrie created iMeet rooms where vendors were present to answer employee questions. Links for each vendor room were sent out to the workforce with a schedule. Employees could easily click and visit with various benefit vendors at their leisure.

Using iMeet’s “file folder” feature, vendors were able to store documents or videos so attendees could easily gather information. Those who missed the event were able to download communications at a later time.

Additionally, Karrie hosted 22 webinars during a two week period to help make sure everyone fully understood what PGi was offering—including a few late night sessions so spouses could join, too. She also incorporated PGi’s GlobalMeet web conferencing tool, using its screen share option to access and navigate benefit websites, which helped employees better understand what type of plan they needed. During the last day of open enrollment, HR had an iMeet room for several hours to assist with last minute enrollment questions.

Follow-ups
Even though open enrollment is over, Karrie continues to follow up with employees who enrolled in the high deductible plan every quarter. Through GlobalMeet, she holds a virtual roundtable where employees can discuss any comments or questions they may have. She takes notes and sends them to all enrollees.

Advice from Karrie
Karrie noticed that sometimes associates were shy and didn’t seem to want to ask questions. As a result, she began approaching meetings with more of a personal approach. She used her family in examples and humor in her presentations. It helped employees feel more comfortable and the sessions became fun and interactive.

“I never would have been able to complete such a significant feat without the virtual tools PGi has to offer,” says Karrie. This virtual fair proves that HR can use iMeet for much more than just global recruiting.

Every year, we all must participate in open enrollment and reeducate ourselves on the benefits our company offers. If the workforce is evolving, wouldn’t it be nice if our various processes evolved too? It could help keep employees more engaged—and awake.

Would you like to read more tips on how you can improve productivity and collaboration in your human resources department? Visit PGi’s Learning Space where you can explore more articles specifically discussing the many trends impacting HR.

Remote Interviewing Done Right: Tech Tips for the Phone and Video Interviewer

With an increasingly global and mobile talent pool to choose from, the remote interview is an invaluable tool in a recruiter’s arsenal for matching the right candidate with the right position, regardless of the location of either. While the old-school phone interview is always an option, increased access to robust and cloud-based audio and video tools can elevate the remote interview from a simple tool to “weed out” early candidates to a full-fledged talent evaluation.

If you’re considering leveraging the remote interview, be sure and utilize these best practices for your phone and video interviews:

Don’t Settle
If you’re a recruiter for a smaller organization or simply don’t have easy access to the latest collaboration tools, it can be tempting to utilize any number of free, consumer-level audio or video conferencing solutions for your remote interviews. Unfortunately, this decision carries with it a significant amount of risk; free solutions often rely on peer-to-peer connections, meaning your interview experience is at the mercy of both your and your candidate’s internet and cellular connection. Flaws or slowdowns on either end can completely ruin your remote interview experience, bogging down your time-to-hire. Business-level conferencing tools, on the other hand, are designed to manage your connection for you, bolstering both your video and audio connection through enterprise-grade network infrastructures.

Know the Tool – and Leverage Its Features
One of the most important best practices for audio and video conferencing is taking the time to learn the tool before you jump into an important meeting or interview. With remote interviews often being the first interaction a candidate has with your organization, it’s important to present an innovative and professional face to attract top talent. Today’s modern conferencing solutions are a perfect way to demonstrate a company’s forward-thinking and technology-focused culture, but technical difficulties (or user errors!) are a quick way to sabotage that impression.

Take the time to learn your remote interview tool’s user interface, features and guest experience before scheduling time with your prospective new hire. For example, the traditional audio conference entry method of tracking down and dialing numbers and audio PINs is clumsy and outdated by today’s standards; instead, use a cloud-based audio conferencing tool that provides one-click entry for your candidate.

Incorporate the Tool in Your Evaluation
Believe it or not, the right collaboration tool for your remote interview can actually work with you to evaluate your candidate. Modern, cloud-based tools are simple to install and use, often not even requiring a download for guests; how your candidate manages the task of joining your interview can be a test in and of itself. Did they take the initiative to explore the tool and show up to your interview early (a best interview practice, regardless of method)? Are they engaged and responsive to the tool’s capabilities and features? Or are they lost, mired in technical difficulty or simply not handling themselves professionally on account of being remote? Almost all positions in today’s workplace, regardless of industry or role, require at least a basic proficiency with technology—a candidate that struggles with your remote interview may have similar difficulty navigating your company’s internal meetings tool, company intranet, expense management system or CRM.

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Telecommuting Advice from HR Pros in the Home Office Trenches

For most businesses, the Human Resources department holds the keys to the telecommuting car. As more and more people work from home at least part time (approximately 30 million Americans, according to Global Workplace Analytics), HR teams are working constantly to manage telecommuting policies and pair remote workers with the tools they need to succeed. And as many HR teams are located in various locations or work from home themselves, we asked PGi HR professionals Kim Pettibone and Julie Johnson how they manage their own remote team and policies for the company as a whole.

Blakely: How do you work as a team from different locations?

Kim: One of the best tips I got from a book, “Knights of the Tele-Round Table,” is not to assume that if you are not hearing anything that everything is okay. I try to make sure I communicate in some form throughout the day, week, etc. My general rule of thumb is if it is taking more than two emails to gain clarity, understand or resolve something, I either schedule a virtual meeting or call the person. Our fantastic web conferencing service iMeet® has really changed things for us all, as well. The old adage that pictures say a thousand words is so true. We keep updated on what is going on in each other’s lives through our iMeet bio pictures. We share a lot of laughs and memories through our pics.

Julie: Our team stays connected by having weekly iMeet and GlobalMeet® online meetings. We also work on projects together (onboarding, interviewing, policy management, etc.) using iMeet and GlobalMeet. They really do make the world smaller, so it seems as though we are just down the hall instead of thousands of miles away.

Blakely: What technology makes telecommuting possible?

Julie: Laptop, tablets, smartphones and, of course, iMeet and GlobalMeet, which allow us to interview candidates face to face virtually. Not only do we use iMeet to meet with candidates one on one, but we also use the technology to conduct group interviews and virtual open houses where candidates can stop by to visit with HR, hiring managers and trainers. We also use VirtualEdge®, our applicant tracking system and PGiLife (internal community) to stay connected.

Kim: I tell people inside and outside the company ALL the time that I don’t know how anyone does business without our tools. Mobility and availability are the key operatives. The funny story about this is that you can count on the following sequence to occur: You are showing as busy/in a meeting, the IM pops up, then an email, then a call to your office phone, which goes to voicemail, then your cell phone rings and NOW the new add is that you get an iMeet or GlobalMeet invite. I have to laugh sometimes, but honestly, someone (from HR) is typically online and can help.

Blakely: How do you keep the human element within HR when you can’t meet face to face?

Julie: We do try to meet in person at least once or twice a year, but when we can’t meet face to face, we use online video conferencing to keep the face to face connection.

Kim: Well, this may be a trick question, but there are no barriers to face-to-face connections now. The principles of being human, regardless of the medium, are the same.

Blakely: Advice for fellow telecommuting HR specialists?

Julie: Create a home office that is away from your home living space, schedule your day, limit distractions where possible, try to maintain a work/life balance and enjoy the flexibility that telecommuting brings.

Kim: Don’t let yourself become too much of a hermit. If you find that you are not talking and meeting with people as much, make sure you build in time to stay connected. I spent a lot of years commuting 50-plus miles every single work day. I find that I now I sometimes don’t want to drive two miles to the grocery store. Strive to keep your personal and professional space separate. It is very convenient to keep working and sometimes you just have to shut the door and walk away. I’m very fortunate that I work in a telecommuting arrangement, as well as being onsite part-time. There are times when I may be in a bit of a funk, and I find connecting with people live reenergizes me, so it is all about the balance.

Blakely: Advice for HR teams who are implementing a telecommuting policy?

Julie: Make sure you have the tools and technology in place to make telecommuting possible, schedule regular meetings to stay connected and make it a priority to keep the human connection with both internal and external customers.

Kim: Like most policies, just think through the things you might take for granted. Most of the time HR pros have a lot of papers around that may be private or confidential. At the office, you have locked filing cabinets, so make sure you duplicate it at your telecommuting office, as well. I keep historical files in my file cabinet at the office. It has always just made sense to me, but building this into the policy may be a good idea. Although we hope we don’t need to withdraw a telecommuting arrangement, like most things, you will want to build in the flexibility to change the arrangement based on business needs.

To learn more about how Kim and Julie utilize video conferencing, web conferencing and audio conferencing technologies to manage talent and build great remote teams, download the free white paper: Online Video Recruiting Helps HR Streamline the Hiring Process.

About Kim Pettibone, PHR: Kim is the Human Resources and Talent Management Director at PGi, where she’s worked for nearly 17 years. With over four years telecommuting for the company, Kim is a leader in utilizing virtual meetings technology, like iMeet and GlobalMeet, to acquire, retain and train new employees right from her home office.

About Julie Johnson: Julie is a sales recruiter at PGi, responsible for bringing in the best talent in audio conferencing and online meetings sales in the world for nearly 16 years. As a telecommuter herself for over 7 years, Julie is pivotal in helping PGi sales teams in over 20 countries connect, perform and exceed sales expectations through virtual sales methodologies and technologies.

Fun Presentation Ideas | Office Lingo Bingo

We love to meet, but hate meetings. Why? The answer is – because most people do meetings all wrong! By simply leveraging more engaging methods to keep your meeting participants involved, meetings can be more productive and, overall, more successful. Games are a fantastic technique to add a little fun and grab guests’ attention throughout the session.

Learn how to successfully grab your audience’s attention during your next presentation with PGi’s free Office Lingo Bingo game and other fun presentation ideas!

To help you on your way to creating more engaging presentations, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to playing Office Lingo Bingo. Here’s how to play:

  • Access 10 free gameboards here.
  • Print them out for your meeting attendees.
  • Use paperclips, hard candy or mints as game pieces—anything lying around in your office is great!
  • During your meeting, instruct guests to listen carefully to the meeting lingo and place a game piece on the square with the word uttered.
  • Five words in a row—vertical, horizontal or diagonal—and they win by yelling “Bingo!”
  • Give the winner a prize, such as sweets, company swag or a gift card.

Download the game now for interactive and productive meetings every time! Learn how to successfully grab your guest’s attention during your next presentation with our free eBook: The Little Black Book of Presentation Ideas.

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Human Resources: Effective Meetings with Web Conference Calling

Human Resources departments in our digital era must deal with software, technology and remote workers to serve a multi-national employee community. And when PGi SVP Alison Sheehan was faced with a global HR software upgrade and User Acceptance Testing, her global team relied on web conferencing technology in her guest blog, “Life in Human Resources is Easier with GlobalMeet.”

Ms. Sheehan shares her step-by-step instructions to help HR professionals everywhere avoid expensive, time-consuming travel and costly productivity loss. To meet online and enhance efficiency, she used GlobalMeet’s multifaceted web and audio conferencing interface to seamlessly review the project plan, map processes, test the software and rollout the changes.

“We had our webcams on so we could see each other smiling, frowning, talking. We were actually in our own base locations, tending to our customers, meeting our other deadlines, saving the travel budget for other needs,” Ms. Sheehan wrote. Learn more about the hands-on HR benefits of GlobalMeet web conference and conference calls in Ms. Sheehan’s original blog, “Life in Human Resources is Easier with GlobalMeet.”

Did you like this article? For more like it, visit the PGi Blog, where Meetings Experts share industry news, advice and thoughts about collaboration and virtual communications technology

5 Work-Life Balance Tips to Make Your Summer Productive

If you find yourself gazing longingly out of your office window this summer or counting down the days to weekend freedom, you’re not alone. The sunshine beckons, and workers all over the world have only three months to sneak in fun in the sun.

So how do you manage your busy workload and still get your summer tan? Here are a couple fun five work-life balance tips to get your job done and enjoy the sunshine.

1. Take a walk. It’s so easy to get sucked into email jail and back-to-back meetings (trust us – we know) that you might not even see the sun during the work week. That needs to change ASAP. Sunshine is a healing, rejuvenating natural phenomenon. During your lunch break or just when you feel that email slump coming on, get out of your office chair and head outside for five minutes – we promise you’ll see a difference.

2. Try team-building in the great outdoors. If you’re getting the sunshine blues, you can bet your colleagues and employees are feeling it, too. This is the perfect season to build your team mojo with some easy fun. If you have budget, nature companies have corporate teambuilding programs from rafting to team obstacle courses (remember those from school?). If you’re running low on money, just hit a local park, search the internet for some ideas and enjoy the sunshine.

3. Picnic — at work. If you have a family, your kids are out of summer break and enjoying swimming, museums, sports and more. If you’re at work, you’re missing out. The best way to stay involved in their summer fun is the only leisure hour during the working day — lunch. Invite your family to a picnic lunch on your corporate campus or at a local park. Pack a meal, a blanket and some sporting equipment for a speed date with your family.

4. Plan free Fridays. Three-day weekends are rejuvenation magic and a great way to sneak away for a mini-vacation, whether you’re hitting the beach or just planning a staycation. By taking only three personal days, you can have three different vacations in a three-month period. Go crazy and take the following Monday off, as well — your friends and family will love it.

5. Clients need sunshine, too. You suffer from summertime back-to-back meetings and never-ending email strings. You can be sure your clients experience the same thing every day. One of the best ways to make a good impression on your customers (and get a leg-up on the competition) is to create an experience they will remember. Get your clients out of their office building and out into the sun — golf, baseball parks or patio lunches will rejuvenate your clients in the summer sun.

Our newfound flexibility gives us the opportunity to break out from the 9-to-5 day and start thinking creatively about balancing our work and personal lives. In the summer, it’s all about family, friends and sunshine — and work can be an exciting addition to this list.

Need just one more hour of pool time? Find out how to #TakeBack60 minutes at work on PGi’s blog.

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Do You Like Scary Meetings? Horror Stories from Three Brave Bad Meeting Survivors

Scary moments aren’t just reserved for horror movies and Halloween. Just like the Blair Witch ruining a camping trip for naïve teens, something as run-of-the-mill as a business meeting can turn into your career‘s worst nightmare.

Our meetings are more than just entries on our Outlook calendars; they’re the way we prove our value and create success that leads to meeting our career objectives.

But, just like David Grady said in this hilarious TED Talk,  some meeting just don’t go as planned.

“When this highly unproductive session is over, you go back to your desk and you say, ‘Boy, I wish I had those two hours back. Like I wish I had my chair back.’

If you’ve ever sat through an unproductive, horrifying or just plain bad meeting, we’re offering insights on what you should do next time to fix it. Learn from these horror stories from three brave bad meeting survivors, and how they recovered from their unfortunate experience.

1. Shipwrecked: Project Planning Meetings

Josh:

At a previous employer, I would get stuck in limbo with monthly planning meetings that would go on for hours longer than originally scheduled — sometimes lasting six hours and even leeching into the next day. All other work was stopped, lunch abandoned and even bathroom breaks frowned upon. And even though I had a sinking suspicious that every planning meeting would be like that, every month my optimistic outlook that things would be different were crushed when I was stranded in a conference room for hours and hours. Every month, I felt shipwrecked – with no food, no water and no escape.

How he fixed it:

After three of these lengthy, bad meetings, Josh went to the project manager and suggested they put together a more formal meeting once a month. These new meetings, scheduled for an entire day in advance, included an agenda, catering and scheduled 15-minute breaks throughout the day so guests could check email, refresh coffee and use the restroom.

2. The Birds: Sales meeting

Meeting-Horror-Stories

Mike:

I was on the verge of landing a really important sale for my company and decided to take the prospective customer out to a very impressive restaurant with a popular patio. Ten minutes into the meeting, with bread and water on the table, a massive flock of pigeons swept across the patio and attacked every table in sight. With wings and screams beating around us, I fled the patio for the dining room only to realize that my prospect didn’t come with me and was nowhere to be found. Four days later, he sent me an email politely letting me know he’d chosen another vendor. Could it have been the birds?

How he fixed it:

Knowing that every impression — not just the first — counts for landing the deal and keeping customer happy, Mike took more care when choosing the location for his meetings in the future. He painstakingly planned every restaurant meeting, even going so far as to calling the site itself to explain the importance and needs of the table during his breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings. Needless to say, no more patios for Mike!

3. The Freeware Nightmare: Online product demo

Lauren:

It was the middle of the afternoon and what I thought would be a short meeting with a vendor, turned into an hour-long nightmare. The vendor invited me to a slideshow-only freeware presentation with a 10-number passcode for conference calling. Fifteen minutes into the call, we were still stuck in the Bermuda Triangle of dropped calls. One of us would finally get onto the bridge, only to be kicked out of the presentation app. After 20 minutes of back-and-forth emails trying to communicate what was going on, we finally used my company’s video conferencing app and escaped from the freeware nightmare.

How she fixed it:

Lauren learned from her vendor’s mistake. Moving forward, Lauren took the lead and hosted every new vendor meeting in the video conferencing technology she could trust. These new hosted vendor meetings started on time, saving countless hours of wasted productivity and email back-and-forth.

What is your worst meeting nightmare? Mine was a vital contract negotiation that switched to a cross-town location during peak traffic hours. I was going nowhere fast, but the big deal was quickly slipping away. Share your horror stories here, and your bravery in changing your meetings from nightmares to fairy tales.

Share your horror stories here, and your bravery in changing your bad meetings from nightmares to fairy tales.

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Images courtesy of HWCA.org and DoctorMacro.com.

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Easy Tips to Optimize HR Recruiting Costs and Still Select from a Global Talent Pool

The pressure’s on for HR recruiting firms and departments: reduce costs, lower time-to-fill and pull candidates from a global talent pool. Not too difficult, right? With the growing time constraints, corporate pressure to reduce costs and an increasingly competitive talent market, here some easy tips to optimize HR recruiting costs and still attract the best talent from around the world.

1. Travel less and meet online more.
Business travel is not just expensive. Constant travel also is a huge waste of valuable recruiting time. Kill two birds with one stone by implementing the newest online meeting technology to cut wasted travel time and costs.

2. Hire virtual recruiters assigned to global time zones.
Global means a 24-hour recruiting day for modern HR departments and recruiting firms. To lower costs associated with overtime and global travel, hire recruiters that only meet online with candidates in specific time zone work hours.

3. Choose clients that are looking for global candidates that will telecommute during the interview process.
Paying for global travel to bring in recruiting prospects from all over the world will destroy your profits. Choose clients that are willing to meet with candidates only online, the new telecommuting candidate interviewing process.

4. Use video meetings to maximize effectiveness and keep costs low.
Video recruiting is the new “it” standard for smart firms and HR. Read Vaco’s first-person account of the success of their new online video recruiting processa process that resulted in five-time recruiter productivity.

5. Close the deal completely online.
Choose technology (video conferencing, conference calls, email, file sharing, etc.) that will enable your firm to begin and end the recruiting process completely online. Find candidates on LinkedIn and other hiring sites, set up interviews via email, interview face-to-face via video conference with webcams, set up the customer-candidate interviews using video meeting tech, sign contracts using digital communication and onboard with virtual training modules. All online, no business travel costs involved.

How has your company reduced costs and improved time-to-fill using modern communication technology?

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Telecommuting? How to Relax on Your Workation for Better Worklife Balance

The workation concept makes most of us cringe — who really wants to join a conference call from the beach? Inevitably, the vacation you’ve been planning for six months is thrown out of whack thanks to a vital customer service call or project that just can’t succeed without you.

Here are seven tips for keeping your sanity and enjoying your vacation/workation.

1. Set the expectation before you go with your boss, customers and colleagues that you will be participating even though you’re on holiday. Give them your itinerary, a potential list of your available time slots and define limited expectations for engagement while on vacation.

2. Negotiate with your spouse and fellow adventurers on your work vs. play ratio. This will help mitigate the risks of eye rolling or drag-out fights on vacation (on both sides).

3. Schedule “busy” time slots in your Outlook calendar daily when you’re exploring a new city, playing golf or just lounging on the beach. This will help avoid getting calendar invites and calls when you’re out of WIFI pocket, while letting your colleagues know when you’re actually available to talk.

4. For us crazed BlackBerry obsessive-compulsives, schedule time to check your email. Once an hour? Once in the morning and once after lunch? Put this schedule in your Outlook Out-of-Office message so people know that you will respond within the next couple of hours.

5. Call your hotel beforehand to get the details on cellphone signal and internet in your room. Also ask them where the local hotspots are at a local coffee shop or bookstore in case you need to work for an hour while you’re out exploring. Download a hotspot locator app on your mobile device in case of emergency.

6. If you’re taking your laptop, sign up for an easy-to-use web conferencing or video conferencing tool that will let you connect face-to-face with your colleagues and even friends back home, minus downloads or lengthy log-in times in case you’re in a slow internet zone. Face-to-face meetings are more effective and less time consuming than the audio or email alternatives, so you’ll get more done in less time on vacation.

7. Don’t feel guilty and have some fun! For your sanity and overall success within your company, you must take leisure time to decompress and come back ready to work.

Do you have any additional tips for a successful workation to share? What’s your secret to success while tuning out but still feeling accountable? We’d love to hear your success stories on how you relaxed but connected on your last workation.

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HR Leaders: How to Choose the Right Online Recruiting Technology

Online recruiting is the new “it” Human Resources trend. HR departments and staffing firms are constantly looking to reduce the time-to-fill, cut costs and get more done with less. Recruiters are finding the answer with online meetings technology and web-based video conferencing software. But how do you know which solution is right for your recruiting practice? Here are some tips to choose the right online recruiting technology.

  • How easy is it to log-in to the meeting technology? If you have to download anything, set up a complicated password or dial strange 800 numbers, look to the next offering. Complicated downloads, passcodes and other online meeting nonsense are part of the reason why 50% of online meetings start late, according to Wainhouse Research, so avoid it if you can.
  • Can I turn on video? Can I use a webcam? Can I simply click and the webcam comes on? If your answer is “no” to any of these questions, move on. The power of video recruiting lies in seeing non-verbal communication cues and how people present themselves “face to face.” And without video, the effort is pretty much pointless.
  • Can I pull up the candidate’s resume and references in the meeting? Being able to review a candidate’s qualifications during the interview or show resumes to hiring managers are huge benefits for getting everyone on the same page at the same time. Choose an online recruiting technology that enables file storage and sharing right in the meeting.
  • Can I have more than two people in the meeting — and on webcam at the same time? If you can’t, think about the next tech option. By extending your recruitment practices to adding the hiring manager into interviews online vs. in-person, you can really cut down the time-to-hire and fill costs.
  • Can I leverage LinkedIn inside the online meeting? This isn’t a deal breaker, but it is definitely an added bonus. With 98% of recruiters using LinkedIn, 42% using Twitter and 33% using Facebook, social integration is definitely a plus for recruiting tech.

What must-have, nice-to-have and don’t-need tech do you have for your online recruiting practice? Share them with your fellow recruiters here on the Learning Space!

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How to Telecommute and Manage Teleworking Employees

With the prevalence of dispersed workforces in today’s expanding global marketplace, businesses are often left struggling to manage effectively over distances. People managers today often have telecommuting, work from home and office workers in their reporting structure. So how do you effectively and efficiently manage a remote workforce?

Here are five tips to make your remote management process more effective (and enjoyable):

1. Establish communication goals with every worker. To create a positive and productive relationship with your employees, ask everyone on your team about their preferred communication style and schedule 1-on-1 meetings to discuss the best go-forward communication plan. It might just be a daily email check-in or weekly meeting, but make sure you both agree on the best method of communication.

2. Be flexible with your remote workers. Flexible work arrangements are great for companies and employees, cutting down operation costs and facilitating an elevated work-life balance. With remote employees, managers must establish expectations early as remote workers tend to avoid the traditional 9-5 workday, work through lunch and opt for workations. If you’re good with that, fantastic. But if you need them at their computers on a Friday afternoon, make sure they know that ahead of time.

3. Find the right tools for online interactions. One of the most common issues with managing remote workers is finding tools that facilitate face-to-face, human interactions from any distance. So whether you’re hosting a 1-on-1 video conference, webinar or group status meeting, it’s vital that you choose the right online meeting tools for simple, personal and intuitive web meetings.

4. Schedule a face-to-face at least twice a year. One of the major issues facing remote workers is a feeling of alienation. While innovative video conferencing tools, like iMeet, improve communication over long distances, take the time to visit your remote workers — or fly them all out to visit you — at least twice each year. Their job satisfaction and productivity levels will greatly improve, and you’ll feel more connected, as well.

5. Have fun every once in a while. All work and no play makes everybody dull! Every month, schedule something fun for your entire team to do, from games to funny YouTube videos before your team call. Not only does it help break the ice, these activities build a sense of unity and team spirit between remote workers.

How do you effectively manage your teams remotely? If you’re a remote worker, what does your boss do — or not do — to facilitate better communication? What role does technology play in the way you communicate with your team?

Image courtesy of SingleMindedWomen.