Monday, October 5, 2009

Web Conferencing: 5 Tips To Use Web Conferences Effectively

We all know that web conferencing is a hot trend in the business world. The ability to bring together experts and opinions from diverse people in myriad locations without spending on transportation is virtually priceless. But if you don’t run your web conferences effectively, you’re not going to get the most out of them. Here are five tips on how to keep your web conferences professional and productive.

Be on time. As long as there are meetings, there will be people joining them late, for whatever reason. While it’s possible to discreetly enter a room mid presentation in a face to face situation, there is no such chance in a web conference. When new members join a web conference, the software will usually announce their presence. This announcement can be a jarring interruption and the last thing you want to do is be the person who interrupted the boss’s big presentation by being late. While tardiness will occasionally be unavoidable in real world situations, you should do your best to make sure you are set up and logged in for your web conference on time, if not a few minutes early.

Check your settings. Different web conferencing applications will all be unique in what they transmit to partners on the line, and sometimes it is all too easy to have unwanted information go out. Most people use their computers (even their work computers) for at least some personal use, like checking their bank balance or checking in with the nanny or coordinating who’s going to be picking up dinner that night. Make sure before you start a web conference that you’ve checked your settings and know what the program will be sharing. Nobody wants the whole office to start calling them by the pet name their partner has for them when an ill timed message comes in.

Know what your camera can see and what your microphone is picking up. Web conferencing has created countless possibilities for the business world. Where meetings might have once required tons of money for transportation to put individuals all in one room, they can now confer with each other from anywhere. Whether they’re an executive on vacation whom needs to be informed of an immediate situation, or a salesman in a foreign land, they can all be brought “back to the office” instantly. The down side to this is the potential for unwanted background noise. In order to make sure your conference runs smoothly, make sure there are no audible or visual distractions that might interfere with your presentation before you begin.

Dress for the occasion. Sure you can web conference from your bedroom in your pajamas, but you should not. Just because you’re not in the office does not mean you can act like you are on vacation. Dress as if you would be meeting these people in person.

Take advantage of all the tools you can. Modern web conferencing software can do a lot more than provide video and voice interactivity. These days there are applications you can use to create a “virtual white board” which participants can all use in collaboration. This can be a great way to get people in diverse locations working together, not to mention it encourages activity on the part of people not currently speaking, keeping their attention focused and their head in the game.

To gain the maximum benefit of web conferencing, you’ve got to make sure that professionalism is maintained, no matter how “casual” the environment of the participant. These tips can help you keep the level of professionalism up in your web conferences, allowing your business to benefit even more from this technology.