Hosting a Better Virtual Meeting

The goal behind any meeting is to keep your audience engaged. But when it comes to virtual meetings, keeping your audience engaged can be a little tricky. In this webinar, PGi will discuss tips and tricks on engaging with your virtual audience, how to ensure your online meetings run smoothly and how to keep you, as the speaker, as authentic as you would be if you were presenting in person.

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

How to Use Presentation Tools During Virtual Meetings

Working with your team in the same place and at the same time is becoming more and more like winning the lottery. PGi’s 2015 Global Telework Survey revealed that roughly 79 percent of knowledge workers now work outside the office, and remote teams are more common than ever.

Yet, businesses drive innovation, productivity and growth most when teams come together to collaborate, and email just doesn’t cut it. Virtual meetings, on the other hand, help remote teams build better relationships and speed up projects—if you keep them engaged.

Luckily, the best software for virtual meetings includes presentation tools you can use to foster active participation and keep multitasking at bay. Here are five ways to use presentation tools during virtual meetings to keep your remote teammates on their toes:

  1. Get on video. Because 60-80 percent of communication is nonverbal, being able to see and hear each other is vital for making the connections needed to establish trust and encourage collaboration. Using today’s simple and personal video conferencing tools, like iMeet®, turn on your webcams so that you can turn voice-only calls into a productive, face-to-face experience.
  2. Share your screen. Instead of sending slide decks ahead of time, ensure your teammates pay attention by going it through live using your screen sharing feature. You can also use screen sharing to train teammates on new technology and processes.
  3. Show a video. Don’t limit your presentations to text and static images only. Liven them up by showing videos. Videos can serve as fun breaks in a presentation, help turn your presentation into a story and better illustrate complex ideas. Just store and pull up the video from your file library or enter the web video link to share it during virtual meetings.
  4. Listen with live chat. Great presentations aren’t just one-way communication. Let your remote team ask questions and post comments without interrupting your presentation using live chat. Besides creating a more interactive presentation, live chat also helps you gauge how well your team understands what you’re saying so you can adjust your presentation in real time.
  5. Keep the conversation going. All of your presentations can live on even after virtual meetings to keep the ball rolling and build ongoing conversations. Record and share your presentation through a URL with action items via email, or post the recording to your team workspace so teammates can review it and follow up on questions.

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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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5 Signs It’s Time for a New Online Meeting Solution

Why did you choose your online meeting solution? Think about it.

If the response that comes to mind is because it’s what you’ve always used, isn’t it time you reconsidered the true value it brings your business?

If you were a first-time buyer, you may have purchased what was most affordable, familiar or free. But once your businesses surpassed its original needs, that “starter software” became hand-me-down technology that solved less and less of the new challenges you now face.

Here are five signs it’s time for a new online meeting solution that’s better suited to your collaboration needs:

  1. Your technology is behind the times. Today’s online meeting solutions offer the best of audio, web and video conferencing features, all rolled into one convenient service. Online meetings take place in HD video, you can store and access files from anywhere and downloads are a thing of the past. If your current solution hasn’t caught up with the times, that’s a sure sign you need to look for a new one.
  2. Your online meeting solution hasn’t grown with you. The first technology you choose isn’t always still the best option once you’ve grown your customer base, expanded your operations or acquired new businesses. Your meetings may have grown from five to 125 people in a conference room from around the world, and your business needs and challenges probably changed, as well. Now it may be time to discover technology that grows your company, not just cuts costs.
  3. Every department uses a different online meeting solution. The more you can adopt your technology to a variety of functions, the more you’ll increase ROI and enhance cross-functional collaboration. Modern solutions now offer customizable features to match different workflows and integrate with existing applications.
  4. Everyone still hates online meetings. Meetings are supposed to help you collaborate quickly and effortlessly from wherever you are, but if your employees or clients still complain, it’s time to reevaluate your technology. Overly complicated features, an inconsistent mobile experience, high bandwidth requirements and unreliable audio ultimately result in poor user adoption and wasted meeting time.
  5. You consider your provider a vendor, not a partner. The best online meeting solutions offer 24/7 customer service and in-call support and work with you to accommodate your unique collaboration needs. If your technology provider is more of an operations facilitator than a partner in innovation, look at other options that will provide better business insights and collaboration expertise.

Did you identify any of these signs at your business? Then use these resources to get started searching for a new online meeting solution:

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.

3 Features to Look for in a Virtual Meeting Solution

Virtual meetings are a great way to keep your internal and external stakeholders connected with one another. From sales training and product reviews to meeting with customers or prospects, virtual meeting solutions can serve as an all-in-one tool to create better business for your company.

By combining video, audio and screen sharing, virtual meetings make it easier than ever to share information, regardless of your location. If your business is ready to try a virtual meeting solution, but doesn’t know where to start, check out these three critical features to look for before you buy:

1. Intuitive Interface: There’s nothing worse than rolling out a new product to your employees, and receiving feedback that it’s just too hard to use. Make sure you look for an intuitive design when you’re choosing a virtual meeting solution for your business.

Begin with finding a solution that has a simple interface; a tool that’s designed with the user in mind. For example, PGi’s iMeet makes it easier for participants to connect their audio by having the meeting call them. There’s no dial-in numbers or passcodes to remember, just 1-click and the program calls an attendee’s phone or computer.

Features like this will make sure that your new virtual meeting tool is widely accepted by employees.

2. Video and Audio Conferencing Capabilities: When searching for a virtual meeting solution, integrated audio and video capabilities are key components. All virtual meeting tools may have one or the other, but finding a solution that has both streamlines your purchase.

Having audio is a no brainer when it comes to meetings, but finding a virtual meeting provider that also offers consistent, quality audio with features like VoIP calling can keep your meetings productive and save you money by cutting your reliance on PSTN (public switched telephone network).

Video capabilities, while not always necessary, are great for making sure all meeting participants are able to see and react to non-verbal cues. With video, you’ll be able to recreate a traditional face-to-face meeting and keep your participants more engaged.

3. Cloud-based: What’s the point in having a virtual meeting solution if you can’t use it anywhere at any time? Cloud-based applications live on the Internet rather than just locally on a device, such as your desktop. The advantage of cloud-based applications is that you can use them at any time, on any device as long as you have an Internet connection. All of the information and settings you stored on one device will automatically populate the next time you use the program.

From consistent quality audio and video conferencing to sharing documents and presentations, having a cloud-based tool will make sure you are getting the full experience each time, regardless of what device you’re using and where you’re working from.

Finding the right virtual meeting solution for your business will take some time and consideration, but remember these three features will ensure your users will get the most out virtual meeting experiences each and every time.

If you’re ready for a cloud-based virtual meeting solution that’s easy to use, check out PGi’s iMeet, free for 30 days.

Virtual Meeting Case Study: Vantedge Group

Full-service insights, analytics and optimization strategies firm Vantedge Group leverages video conferencing software to conduct primary research focus groups that deliver more robust insights, in less time and for less money. However, the firm needed a superior virtual meeting solution to make virtual focus groups seamless and, in turn, more productive.

After considering several competitors for their conferencing needs, Vantedge chose iMeet® by PGi, all-in-one audio, video and web conferencing. As a result of iMeet's simplicity and convenience, Vantedge Group experienced lowered meeting costs, increased productivity and decreased travel time and expenses after conducting just three virtual focus groups with the solution.

“We know we’re getting a high ROI. Conservatively, executing an event through iMeet easily saves us one-third to one-half the costs of a traditional focus group.”

The Most Effective Settings for Online Job Interviews

Video interviews aren’t only changing the way HR recruits new talent, but also the way candidates seal the deal. Now, on top of your wardrobe, punctuality and body language, you need to keep in mind your overall online job interview setting to impart a great first impression.

Thinking about showing your charisma outdoors or your creativity in the coffee shop? Don’t.

Much like your wardrobe choices, settings for online job interviews should never distract from your answers, professional skills and personality. The most memorable part of your interview should be you.

Since you only get one chance to prove yourself to the interviewer, opt for a clean, controlled environment for your video interview. When you’re in control of the background and setting, you can minimize risk and guide the interview to your benefit.

Recruiters often record and share online job interviews, which means any mishaps won’t only be seen by the recruiter on the other end, but potentially also by the head of HR and even the manager and supervisor for the job you want.

Save the fun, personal settings for online meetings once you get the job, and instead stage your interview to create an optimal opportunity for a positive first impression:

-Clean up your background. A blank, neutral wall works wonders, but you can also create a clean background on the spot with a whiteboard or even neutral curtains. You may want to angle the camera on your head and shoulders so not even the desk or table shows. Your killer answers and go-getter attitude should be the focal point, not the clutter on your desk or bookshelf.

-Enhance your lighting. In terms of visuals, lighting is one of the most critical features you may not consider in your online job interview. When lighting goes bad, shadows can create unflattering lines, and bright lights can make you look shiny and nervous. Think like a photographer and sit facing a window so natural light highlights your front. Your video interview lighting should be diffused and never backlit.

-Shut down noise. Any background noise or movements will distract both the interviewer and you. Stop the laundry machine and dishwasher, and don’t forget to silence any noisy reminders on your computer. Keep pets and children out of sight and hearing range so no one ruins your personal elevator pitch.

-Scan for details. Even if you planned an immaculate interview space, a dirty lens or bad camera angle can ruin your staging, and that swivel chair may make you turn nervously during the interview.

-Test your connection. Another reason not to interview at the coffeehouse with free Wi-Fi is your connection speed. A high-speed connection minimizes the chance of experiencing choppy video or audio. Play it safe and hook up your computer to an internet cable at your home or office.

Because of the convenience, cost savings and value of non-verbal communication, video interviews are becoming a crucial aspect of the digital recruiting strategy. Sharpen your skills and learn how to navigate the new era of digital interviews now so you can ace one of the most important meetings of your life.

Learn more secrets for a great video interview with our infographic on Online Job Interviews.

 

Fun Presentation Ideas for a Virtual Audience

As businesses continue to become more global, virtual meetings grow in popularity. With geographically dispersed teams and clients located all over the globe, in-person meetings almost seem impossible.

Do you find yourself hosting a lot of virtual meetings? If so, you may find it can be a bit difficult to keep your virtual audience engaged throughout your presentation. It’s hard enough making sure people are paying attention when they’re all in the same room.

Here are five simple, but fun presentation ideas that will keep your virtual audience engaged.

  1. Choose the right online meeting tools

You can’t expect your audience to follow along if they can’t even see your presentation. To eliminate this problem, you may choose to share your desktop. However, some may feel this is a bit too personal and risks others seeing any personal information that may pop up on your screen during the presentation.

For those of you who don’t want to take the chance, you can use online meeting tools like iMeet and GlobalMeet, which make it possible for you to just share your presentation or certain files with your meeting attendees. As an extra bonus, both meeting tools allow the host to pass presentation controls to other meeting guests if there are multiple presenters.

  1. Keep your slides simple

When building a presentation, it is possible to overdo it. Overwhelming people with too much information or too many images can quickly ruin your presentation. Try to limit each slide to one main point with 15 words or fewer.

  1. Interact with your audience

As you are presenting online, you may not be able to read your audience’s expressions as easily as you could if you were all in the same room. To make sure everyone is still following along and not multi-tasking, find ways to interact with them. GlobalMeet makes it possible for you to poll your virtual audience.

  1. Relax

When preparing for an in-person presentation, you may feel a little nervous. You may not like the idea of having a room full of people stare at you and you may feel pressure to memorize all of your talking points. Hosting a virtual meeting may make it possible to eliminate some of those nerves.

Presenting to a virtual audience may make you feel more comfortable. Also, feel free to keep your notes handy so you can refer to them throughout your presentation. This may also make it easier for you when you’re building your slides. Now, this does not mean you can read from your notes. Even if people can’t see you, they will be able to tell you’re reading. Just use them as a reference.

  1. Practice makes perfect

Never assume you know how to use the online meeting tools Make sure you practice ahead of time so you can make the presentation as seamless as possible.

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The Secret to Successful Meeting Management: Stand-Up Meetings

Stand-up meetings are a simple concept. The idea was for reoccurring meetings to have short, focused meetings to allow each participant to update team members quickly and efficiently. Jack Welch, longtime CEO of GE, was known to walk the halls of GE’s offices and manufacturing locations and have stand-up meetings with executives and frontline workers alike. These stand-up meetings kept us all on our toes, shortened gatherings to 10-minute meetings and saved us all a lot of time (and frustration).

If you are working on an ongoing project with other team members, here are some quick meeting management tips to unlock the secrets to a 10-minute meeting:

  • Pre-arrange a recurring time which works for the whole team.
  • Make sure each team member has a clear list of agenda items to review in advance.
  • Literally stand up to have your meeting. Not only does this help keep the meeting brief and focused, it will give you a bit of exercise.
  • If there are issues which cannot be resolved in the stand-up meeting, either extend the meeting or agree to set another time to meet and discuss that issue.
  • Always set a strict amount of time for the stand-up meeting, generally not more than 15 – 20 minutes.

Meeting face-to-face is not always possible in our increasingly global, digital world. For the best virtual stand-up meetings, learn more about iMeet® video conferencing, which enables face-to-face webcam meetings with a single click of a button and without the complicated, time-consuming downloads that will turn your 10-minute meeting into a 45-minute “who’s there” fest. Try PGi’s free iMeet VRC demo and experience 30 days of virtual stand-up meetings.

Author: Beth St. Paul is a long-time PGi meetings expert, coming to the world’s leading expert in virtual meetings from popular TV network, NBC.

Image courtesy of BeyondLean.

Vaco Takes ‘Free Yourself’ to the Next Level with Video Interviews

Download the free Vaco case study to learn how this recruiting firm utilized video interviews technology, iMeet® video conferencing, to realize a five-time increase in recruiter productivity.

  • Reduce lost time from back-and-forth email communications
  • Screen more candidates with shorter, more effective online video interviews
  • Improve time-to-fill by enabling shorter interview-to-hire timeline
  • Enable on-the-fly, ad hoc virtual team meetings
  • Lower costs associated with business travel for both candidates and recruiters

Vaco—a top 5000 fastest growing company as ranked by Inc. magazine—matches the strongest accounting, financial, IT and administrative professionals with the unique project and permanent needs of its clients— simple in theory, difficult in execution. When deadlines loom large, there are no more weekends to give and the infrastructure must evolve in order to compete and meet the demands of clients who need quality candidates at the speed of now.

In short, Vaco needed to implement today’s newest technology breakthroughs to stay ahead of a highly competitive market, satisfy client demands and attract the best talent in the U.S.

“Most of the companies that reach out to Vaco to assist with recruiting have exhausted all of their internal resources. Speed is extremely important in these circumstances, and that’s where iMeet comes in.”Jim Jhanda, Vaco Managing Partner

How Plantronics and PGi Share a Culture of Innovation

After 51 years of innovation — including pioneering such breakthroughs as lightweight and mobile headsets, noise-cancelling products and the personal speakerphone — audio technology giant Plantronics set a new vision for itself.

Its main goal, spearheaded by VP of Strategy & New Business Development Jeffrey Seigel, was to create immersive virtual experiences where people feel they are in the same room and can collaborate freely and easily. Accordingly, Jeffrey approached PGi to explore synergies—including how Plantronics’ contextually intelligent headphones might enhance the PGi user experience.

In the past, Jeffrey had been disappointed by other video technology and web conferencing options (clumsy audio software that incorporated video as an afterthought or high quality video conferencing that lacked screen sharing capabilities). But he quickly felt that PGi’s culture of innovation dovetailed with Plantronics’ goals for success. iMeet® has helped Jeffrey carry out a bold new vision for Plantronics.

“When I’m first collaborating with someone, I’m trying to convey a bold new idea — something that they haven’t conceived of — and get across the implications for their business. My ideas need to really come forth in a way that is fully understood, where I can see how people are responding.”

PGi Security Report

There’s no end in sight for the growth of technology trends that increase our connectivity at work, but as the digital workplace takes off, data security matters more than ever. The applications you deploy must have dedicated security protocols, data center redundancy, ongoing risk assessments and more within the security infrastructure.

Get this free white paper now to learn how security, resilience and business continuity are addressed in PGi’s leading virtual meeting software and collaboration solutions.