Tips and Tools For A Virtual Meeting [Chart]
*Update – 6/3/2020*
As we try to come to terms with a life secluded and changing a way of doing business for even traditional B2B companies like energy, engineering, or construction companies, I thought I’d provide some of my recommendations and tools that have helped me run a virtual company for 20 years.
Not that I believe that going all virtual is the best way to run a business.
You still need to create connections in person, but for the next few weeks and maybe the future for some staff sick policies, a virtual business can help you maintain productivity.
Running a virtual company can mean adding expenses. Small or large budgets, either way, there is no time to waste.
It’s happening quickly.
For some companies with larger budgets, you might want integration with on-premise infrastructure. For these types of integrations, I recommend calling professionals like CX2, Inc that can properly wire and configure the hardware and software as well as maintain it.
Then those with smaller budgets, you must make do with readily available software and tools. These options for smaller budgets and emergency needs, there are products that are cloud-based or existing collaboration tools with platforms like Slack. These are easily and quickly set up within moments and ready to be distributed.
Below is a list of software and products I would recommend to help you and your team work from home.
1. Video Conferencing Tools
Seeing who you are talking to, rather than just hearing, enhances the experience of connecting with others exponentially. For the virtual experience to be as close to the real in-person experience as possible, the choice of a webcam is important.
Zoom – http://bit.ly/3b2dW5q
I’ve used Zoom for a few years now. I use it for my business during onboarding and during coaching webinars. It allows me to automatically generate meetings depending on certain Zapier rules. It’s extremely powerful that allows you to stream webinars, run virtual meetings, and share screens. You can start small sharing with 2-3 people with video meetings or set up complex conference room systems.
Easily personalize your video rooms with a custom link and background. Another feature I like is the whiteboard feature.
“Getting everyone on the same page is easy when join.me instant screen sharing is involved. When you start your meeting, simply press the “broadcast” button and you’re ready to go. It’s that simple. And with join.me’s pass the presenter feature, you can engage with your audience at an even deeper level. Collaboration is efficient, easy, and hassle-free – and you don’t have to be in the same room to do it.”
Formally Appear.in, Whereby makes video conferencing easy because there is no software for your attendees to download. “Whereby is a flexible tool providing you with video meetings in the browser – no downloads & no logins for guests.” You can brand your pages as well as create a custom URL so your team can easily remember the video meeting room.
Google just announced that they’ll be allowing for more features to their free Google Hangouts packages. https://cloud.google.com/blog/products/g-suite/helping-businesses-and-schools-stay-connected-in-response-to-coronavirus
“Meet takes the headaches out of joining a video call at work. Just set up a meeting and share a link. No worrying about whether teammates, clients, or customers have the right accounts or plug-ins. With a fast, lightweight interface and smart participant management, multi-person video calls are a breeze.”
Easy to use and share with your customers and team, Uber Conference has a great interface with a point and click interface for your customers. It works within a browser and does not require a PIN or downloads. In addition, you can have hold music while your audience waits for you to start your meeting. As far as security is concerned the back end is encrypted with DTLS (signaling) and SRTP (media). They use HTTPs on the front-end for chat and contacts, and our entire site runs over SSL.
Video Conferencing Comparison
|# of Participants||100||100||4||12||5||250||250||8000|
|Length of Meetings||40||24||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Unlimited Meetings Rooms|
|Desktop Software Required||Required||Required||Not needed||Not needed||Not needed||Not needed||Required||Required|
|YouTube & Facebook Integration||Add-On|
|Chat & Send Files|
|Whiteboarding||iPad/Iphone App||iPad/Iphone App|
2. Next, your camera.
Your camera is just as important in today’s video conferencing environment. The quality of the camera affects perception like wearing the right clothing to an interview. The right camera can help provide a better image quality. It can be the difference between looking like you are sitting in a dungeon versus an office.
“The ability to virtually communicate and collaborate instantaneously with colleagues, partners and customers regardless of location is sweeping today’s business world. Video calling, video conferencing and unified communications are replacing face-to-face meetings, reducing the need for business travel. More importantly, since collaboration is instantaneous, businesses and individuals are realizing real improvements to productivity.”
Quality of webcam components and optimizations can vary widely, ultimately translating into overall experience quality.
- https://amzn.to/2QkBzhA – $107
- https://www.walmart.com/ip/Logitech-C925e-Webcam/51778527 – $149
- https://amzn.to/3aWtCXO – $58
3. Then your lighting.
I know, it’s not like your at a fashion show or you’re a beauty blogger, but the right lighting enhances the quality of your meetings.
I run a webinar with 4 other coaches for other web agencies on a weekly basis. I understand the need for the right lighting. Our members pay a lot of money to be part of the group and have high expectations. The right lighting can be the difference between low- and high-end customer relationships.
It’s like asking your customers to meet you in the basement of your office building without windows. Being aware of shooting “with” the light will not only create depth and a visually interesting picture, but it will also make the subject look much better than the typical office or conference room lighting.
The right lighting does not have to be expensive. You can choose simple lights that sit on your desktop. Using it only when needed or a proper ring light that sits on your wall, like mine.
- https://amzn.to/2TUkhdt – $30
- https://amzn.to/3d76cRo – $17 – works on a tripod
- https://amzn.to/2QkBzhA – $42 – hooks to your desk and your camera
4. Watercooler Chats.
As a part of any team communication, the watercolor chat is just as important as any meeting. The side meetings and quick feedback or reminders occur all day. Tools like Slack help with this. In addition, Slack helps remove you from email’s never-ending chain.
5. Finally, Explainer Videos.
When you don’t have time for a meeting but you need to communicate something complicated, without creating a full-page article, sometimes a quick video of less then a few minutes help relay that information faster and more efficiently.
- Clapboard – https://appsumo.com/clapboard/ – AppSumo Deal – $39/user – LIFETIME!
- Loom – https://www.loom.com/ – Free for 1 users, $4/mo/user. (Each employee can create their own user account with their email)
- GetCloudApp – https://share.getcloudapp.com/ – Free for 1 user – 1 min recordings. $9/mo/users- unlimited recordings.
- SnagIt – https://www.techsmith.com/screen-capture.html. $50 one time fee per user on 2 machines.
Tips to run a great virtual meeting.
- 10 minutes before the meeting. Check your Tech. Make sure your computer and camera and microphone work. Then also make sure your attendees also test their tech.
- Set an agenda.
- Turn on your video conferencing software. Make sure your software is running so when people start to enter the room, it’s ready.
- Set your room so that video is defaulted to be off and sound is muted. Give your visitors the option to turn on video and sound. When they are ready, they can turn on the equipment.
- If you have more than 3 people in the meeting, be sure to introduce everyone.
- Be prepared to share your screen.
- Set meeting criteria and norms.
- No getting up and walking around.
- Close the door.
- If you can’t do it in a room full of people, you don’t do it online.
- No multi-tasking. As science shows us, despite the brain’s remarkable complexity and power, there’s a bottleneck in information processing when it tries to perform two distinct tasks at once.
- As with any meeting, have someone send a meeting recap.
Virtual Meeting Resources:
Harvard Business Review – https://hbr.org/2020/03/what-it-takes-to-run-a-great-virtual-meeting?ab=hero-subleft-3
Next, download our Zoom Meeting Etiquette Infographic.