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.


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 Conduct a Meeting Using Video Conference Cameras

Originally published on

When you’re first starting out with video conferencing, if you’re just using it for informal purposes like communicating with colleagues every now and then, you might not need anything more complex than a webcam and a video-enabled instant messaging system like Skype. These basic video conferencing tools will not offer the professional feel that may be desired for communications with critical customers or other parties, but it will allow you to see the person you’re speaking with.

Webcams range from built-in cameras in laptops to high-definition video conferencing cameras with a 1280×720 pixel resolution and 30 frames per second, like the FREETALK by Everyman HD. Many webcams have built-in microphones, but you can always purchase a headset to improve sound quality.

Video Conferencing for Small Businesses
Recent advances in technology have dramatically improved image quality, and modern video conferencing cameras make virtual meetings an efficient option for small groups and crucial communications. These group video conferencing solutions go beyond consumer-level video-calling services to offer HD-quality video, desktop views, whiteboard sharing, slideshows and other options that enable all the same interactions as a face-to-face conference.

For small-group interactions, video conferencing cameras used in conjunction with desktop computers may be enough. PGi’s iMeet lets you connect with up to 15 other people at a time.

Digital video cameras offer sharper, faster images than webcams, and can be set up on tripods to capture a group. Video conferencing kits can be purchased which include high quality multi-point cameras, microphones, remote controls, camera mounts for LCD televisions and computer software. These kits can range from $500 to $10,000.

Broadcast-Quality for Bigger Groups
Large-group video conferencing often requires more complicated equipment, particularly if you want the best quality video and audio. Such a setup can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars in cost, but offer broadcast-quality results that can make it seem as if all conference participants are in the same room, even if they’re located all over the globe.

Professional-quality, large-group video conferencing requires several high-quality cameras, multi-directional microphones and projection screens. They use a lot of bandwidth, and can require dedicated servers in some cases. Typically non-portable, they are often set up permanently in a boardroom.

Know more about video conferencing cameras? Let us know in the comments below.
Originally published on
Image courtesy of Geekers Magazine.

Webcast and Video Conference Holiday Parties Improve Office Morale

The company holiday party isn’t what it used to be. With almost 70% of companies offering at least one type of telecommuting option, it is increasingly rare that every employee can attend a year-end party. So how do you get everyone under one roof to celebrate the holidays and another year in the books? ‘Tis the season to take your office party virtual.

Why should we host a virtual holiday party?

Today’s incredible technological innovations make flexible work arrangements and global communications a vital part of corporate culture. Cloud computing technology helps workers join webinars and web meetings from anywhere — at home or on the road. And smartphones make emailing, conference calls and even video conferencing a breeze with mobile apps. But when it comes to the holidays, telecommuters and remote office workers can feel left out of the cultural ritual of the office party. With today’s technology, take your year-end party virtual and create a sense of seasonal cheer for all your employees.

How do we prepare for the event?

Every company is different, and the key to creating an exciting virtual party is to keep it simple and plan your methods carefully. Here are a couple questions to ask:

1. Have we ever hosted a virtual event?
Your company probably hosts virtual events — web conference, video conference, webcast or webinar — for investor calls, press conferences or sales meetings. Find out who coordinates these virtual meetings and pick their brains.

2. How much can I spend?
Your budget will help you determine the size and scope of your holiday party. Webcams for every employee or just every office? Food and drinks for every office? Holiday gifts? Inexpensive web-based video conference or huge global production?

3. Do we want to manage the virtual event or have a partner do it?
Hosted events are popular for major corporate events, so why not use them for your holiday party if you have the budget? Learn what options are available and fit your unique needs.

4. What are our employee work arrangements?
Determine what ratio of the following your company has: home office workers, road warriors, onsite workers, remote office workers.

5. Do we want everyone to be live on video or just stream the main event?
Choose the people that need to be on video: telecommuters, regional offices, executives and/or the main event.

6. Who are we inviting?
Determine who you want to attend: all employees or just certain employee groups. Send e-invitations with the date, time, log-in information and technical requirements for users who will join remotely.

What virtual service should we use?

Your employee work arrangements and office geography will determine which solution is right for your meeting.

1. Large corporate office with <10% remote workers: For the budget conscientious business, low-cost web conferencing services, like GlobalMeet, incorporate live webcam video with active speaker technology to everyone can be on video, share pictures and more.

Big budget and big holiday party? Webcast services, like On24 with PGi, create a hybrid party for your business — a video feed of the main event streamed over the internet to remote workers and offices.

2. Small and medium-sized company with

3. Large corporation with global teleworkers and regional offices: For large companies with employees scattered throughout regional and home offices across the world, your best bet is a hybrid party that uses high-quality video to stream your corporate party to offices and home workers. Everyone can see the main festivities, see and hear your executives’ speeches and more — right from their laptop or on the conference room projector.

4. Regional celebrations with teleworkers: If your company breaks down year-end parties by region or continent, look at the regional employee community to determine if web conferencing, video conferencing or webcasting meet your operational and budgetary needs — just like the options above.

Video Interviews | Why Recruiting Strategy is Going Digital

Thanks to the global collaboration revolution, businesses are no longer limited to looking for talent or knowledge workers that are geographically convenient. However, phone interviews, in addition to missing that key nonverbal communication component, are so last century. With advances in web browser and video streaming technologies, the video interview is now the new go-to recruiting strategy for both recruiters and applicants. indextt

One of the key benefits of virtual interviewing is also one of the simplest and most obvious: convenience. An in-person interview involves securing and scheduling a location to meet, travel time for the applicant and can amount to a significant chunk of time for both parties. With a virtual meeting in iMeet literally a single click away on your PC or a single tap away on your iPad, video interviews are considerably less disruptive for both parties, allowing for in-depth, personal interaction without having to leave your desk or home.

The Power of Face-to-Face
The remote interview is nothing new; phone interviews are often used as the first step in the chain, letting recruiters ask the basic questions of a prospective employee before committing to an in-person meeting. However, phone interviews, while potentially useful, leave a lot of information hidden to both parties. Namely, the huge percentage of communication that is entirely non-verbal is completely lost when having an audio-only conversation. A solution like iMeet brings true face-to-face interaction to the virtual interview, letting both interviewer and interviewee see every facial expression, hand gesture and demeanor change in clear, high-quality streaming video.

Lower Costs for Everyone
Regardless of what side of the interview you happen to be on, the entire process represents a significant time investment for both parties. For recruiters, there are job descriptions to be written and approved, qualifications to review to narrow the list of applicants and follow up emails to be sent and monitored. For applicants, there are job boards and email newsletters to monitor, resumes and cover letters to update and personalize and interviews to prepare for.

By using video interviews to vet your candidates, you not only reduce the time investment of the interview process but also reduce if not entirely eliminate unnecessary travel expenses. The power of a personal, face-to-face video conferencing interview means that when you’re ready to invest in bringing a candidate in for an in-person interview, you can do it with the confidence that you’ve had the opportunity to truly qualify them beforehand.

Presentation Ideas: Webcam How-To Guide for Better Meetings

Webcams are the new go-to business tool, proven to boost online meetings success. But how do you turn the thing on?! What should I wear? And what happens if my cat streaks across the screen during a client meeting? Here’s the top 10 webcam how-to’s and tips for video meetings success.

1. Splurge for HD. With the incredible technology in web-based video meetings solutions, like iMeet, video feeds from your laptop and PC can look like you’re sitting in a million-dollar video conferencing room. If your PC and network have the power, opt for a high-res webcam for optimal performance, even if you have a webcam built into your laptop already.

2. Read (or watch) the instructions. Ignore this if you’re one of the 1% of the population who actually cracks open the manual when you get your shiny new webcam. If you hate plugging through manuals and need the help, YouTube is full of instructional videos for your specific webcam. Take five minutes and educate yourself on the features and functionality.

3. Zoom in! As much as you love the art in your home office or cubicle, the people in your online meeting want to see your face — and it makes meetings so much more productive. Since people are six times more likely to retain info when your face and voice are on the screen, zoom in your webcam to show the top of your shoulders, neck, face, and entire head.

4. Clear out the junk. Now that your face is the focal point, we need to clear out all the distractions behind you. Choose a spot in your home office, business office or cubical that has nothing on the walls so that even if you’re surrounded by laundry or paperwork, the meeting participants will never know.

5. Dress up — at least half of you. With 40 percent of teleworkers wearing pajamas during the workday, a webcam puts a damper on the telecommuting population’s home office habits. If you don’t want to suit up completely, opt for business casual on top, flannel on the bottom. I did.

6. Remove distractions. Interruptions happen, but the key to avoiding clients hearing your cussing coworker or barking dog in the background is finding that safe place for your video conference call. In the office, put up a sign that you’re in a virtual meeting or head to an empty conference room. At home, put a sign on your door asking the UPS guy not to ring the doorbell and lock the office door.

7. Turn it on! Why is being on live video any different than sitting in a conference room for a face-to-face meeting? Ninety percent of people admit to multitasking during a meeting, and video conferencing is key to making your meetings more efficient, productive and (yay!) shorter.

8. Look at me when I’m talking to you! Just like a face-to-face meeting, it’s vital that you look at the person who’s talking to avoid accidental rudeness. Look into the lens or red dot on your webcam — not the screen. Awkward the first couple of times, but ultimately makes a huge difference to the effectiveness of your meeting.

9. Step away politely. Sometimes you need to take a call during an online video meeting. In the chat pod or on your audio connection, politely let fellow participants know you need to step away before muting your phone and turning off your webcam. Turn your webcam back on to signal your return to the meeting.

10. Don’t forget to turn the webcam off. There’s nothing worse than having your clients watch you pick your nose because you left your webcam on after a meeting. Make sure to completely disconnect from your meetings every time: phone or VoIP, webcam and Internet browser. Now that you’ve mastered the power of the webcam, check out these nine surefire ways to jumpstart participation in your next virtual meeting. And if you have more questions, just Ask a Meetings Expert! We’re here to help.

How to Conduct a Meeting During Business Travel to France

Bonjour! France, one of the world’s most romantic cultures, full of passion, beauty and intelligence. The culinary cuisine, picturesque scenery and artistic heritage make France one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. PGi Meetings Expert Amelie David shares her meetings experience to make your next trip – business or personal – fruitful and successful.

Q: How do you greet and say goodbye to a colleague or client?

A: Say “Bonjour” and give him or her two kisses between males and females. Sometimes, two male colleagues can give each other a kiss, too, if they are friends. Sometimes you give one kiss, sometimes two, sometime you shake hands. To say goodbye, you do the same.Confusing French tradition!

Q: Where do business meetings usually take place?

A: Normally in the office or virtual meeting, but it could be in a restaurant, too.

Q: What are some small talk topics to start the meeting? And what topics should be avoided?

A: The news is definitely a good topic, any big events happening at the moment.
Food is a big one, too (what you ate yesterday, new restaurant, what you will eat later). You definitely have to avoid politics and money talk.

Q: What are the best times to request meetings?

A: Between 9 to 12:00 or 14:00 to 18:00, but not at lunch time

Q: How should I schedule a meeting in France? And what do I need to supply before the meeting?

A: Phone first if possible, and then send outlook invite. You do not need to send an agenda.

Q: Should I schedule a lunch or dinner meeting? What is the etiquette for sharing a meal?

A: It is not that you should, you HAVE TO take meals with business associates! You make the reservation at around 12:30. Etiquette: don’t get one client and three colleagues. It has to be balanced. If your client wants wine, you have to drink with him (you could say no if you are sick or something, but otherwise it would be rude). Be careful with religious beliefs (with the meat being pork, for example).

Q: At the meeting, what should I provide and prepare?

A: Business cards and your laptop. If you organize the meeting in the morning, you could bring breakfast (pain au chocolat, croissant) and offer coffee.

Q: How long should the meetings be?

A: Not more than 20 minutes, after the concentration capacity decreases minutes after minute. Small talk: 15%.

Q: What can I do to encourage collaborative discussion during the meeting?

A: To encourage collaborative discussion during the meeting I use examples, ask questions about the organization structure of the company.

Q: What should I wear to meetings?

A: Business outfit, nothing too provocative or casual. You can be fashionable but not extravagant.

Q: What should I do after the meeting?

A: Send the minutes in a thank you email.

Q: What else should visitors to your country know?

They would need to know about the hello kisses (it always funny to see how surprised people can be with that). Other things to know: we start quite late – finish late, too – and take lot of time to eat.

One thing to do is to have breakfast in a small Parisian bistro coffee + croissant (can be done with client or colleague).

Jokes are very much appreciated, but don’t make jokes about French people or French food or France, for some reason we don’t find that funny!

Have more questions about the meetings do’s and don’ts in France?

Recorded Web Conferencing Enables Better Meeting Management

There just never seems to be enough time in the day. But in Stop the Meetings Juggling Act with Recorded Web Conferencing, PGi author Blakely Thomas-Aguilar helps businesspeople everywhere fit more into every day by clicking the record button during online meetings.

DVR isn’t just for TV anymore. Next time your meeting runs late, you have a family emergency or just miss the Outlook calendar reminder, simply replay the web conference your missed — right from your computer. You can hear and even see presentations with GlobalMeet web conference’s innovative record functionality. For hosts, online trainers and public relations teams, this functionality opens a single meeting to a wider audience, who may not have attended but still want to learn on the replay.

To learn how you can hit that little red button in your next meeting, read Stop the Meetings Juggling Act with Recorded Web Conferencing.

Did you like this article? For more like it, visit the PGi Blog, where Meetings Experts share news, advice and thoughts about technology trends, web conferencing and online meeting management.

Hone Presentation Skills with Whiteboarding 101

It’s been said that the highest compliment a whiteboard session can get is that when you left the room, anyone else could walk in and immediately understand what your board was about. That being said, let’s talk about how we can get there — virtually! With an increasing number of online whiteboarding tools at your disposal, brainstorming sessions are yet another meeting type that can be taken online. And with these tips, your online brainstorming sessions can be as close to the real deal as possible:

1. Know your tools.
Prior to your session, make sure you’ve tested each of the tools available to you so you’re not hung up on the how-to’s, and you can spend more time on the actual task at hand. There are an abundance of both open -source and paid whiteboard tools available to anyone with enough gumption to Google “online whiteboarding,” each with a different suite of tools. One of our favorites is Dabbleboard, because of its ability to easily create flow charts and wireframes.

*** It might sound elementary, but a good way to test your whiteboard’s functionality is by executing a mock meeting. The more hands-on time you have with your virtual whiteboard, the better.

2. Meet, normally.
Operate your meeting like you would an in-person gathering. Dedicate one of your guests to be the primary note-taker and jot everyone’s thoughts on the board, while the rest of the group discusses edits and promotes ideas. Many whiteboarding tools allow for multiple attendees to simultaneously amend the board—enabling a creative, fun environment that achieves the goal of your meeting and gets everyone’s best ideas on paper.

3. Record it. Save it. Share it.
One obstacle with any whiteboarding session is how to save and share the explosion of ideas splattered on your board. Most virtual whiteboards have a simple save function that will record the final product in a JPEG or GIF format, which can then be sent out to other attendees after the meeting.

If you want to take it a step further, web meeting products, like GlobalMeet, with integrated web and audio (and a whiteboard tool, to boot) can be especially helpful with recording. You can chronicle the conversation, context and evolution of the whiteboard—not just the final product.

With these simple suggestions, try taking your next whiteboarding session online and see if you can mimic, or even one-up, your next in-person brainstorm session. A new, virtual experience may shake loose the best ideas from you and your colleagues, and inspire truly great innovations.

More questions? Need some help? Just ask a PGi Meetings Expert! We’re here to help.