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VOL. 130 | NO. 195 | Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Getting the Most Out of Videoconferences

By Patrick Tamburrino

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Patrick Tamburrino

Many of the companies I work with have some percentage of staff working remotely. One study from Telework Research Network estimates one in five Americans work from home, and the trend is expected to increase exponentially year over year.

Even non-virtual employees can expect to use videoconferencing at some point in their day-to-day business. Whether you’re on the road, or wanting to connect with partners or contractors who are not in the same location, it can be an effective tool for group collaborating. But it’s important to keep in mind that online meetings have different protocols and dynamics.

I’ve listed a few tips to help you run your next videoconference more smoothly, based on my experience in helping clients with theirs:

Power up the web cam. It may seem self-explanatory, but make sure you have a web cam available and it’s turned on. Most laptops have one built in, but if you have an older computer or desktop, you can add a webcam. Remember to speak towards the screen/webcam and adjust the sound before you get started.

For small groups, use Google Hangouts. If it’s a videoconference between one or two people, Google Hangouts is the easiest and most straightforward tool available. You’ll need to have a Google account, but then you can easily initiate a chat session with a co-worker and stream video. When you launch your web cam inside Google Hangouts, click on the gear at the top of the video screen to make sure your audio and video settings are the way you want them.

Try not to use Wi-Fi. If the conference call is of a critical nature or requires extremely clear video, Wi-Fi often doesn’t cut it. However, if you wire up to Ethernet and disable your Wi-Fi, you’ll find that the video conferencing is consistently superior.

For more formal events, use GoToMeeting or Join.Me. Because these tools let you meet, present and collaborate with up to 25 people, they can boost productivity. They can be used on both Macs and PCs, and allow users to participate via their desktops, landlines or mobile devices. Their audio and video connections also tend to be clearer than methods like FreeConferenceCall.com, for instance.

Last, but definitely not least – if you are holding a video or audio conference, you should always test it ahead of time. Too often, I see folks who do not plan for these appropriately, and everybody is scrambling if there is a problem and using the time scheduled for their meeting to troubleshoot technology.

Instead, test your videoconference earlier that day. Then, when you kick off your meeting, turn on the webcam, smile and proceed confidently.

Patrick Tamburrino, president of tamburrino inc., can be reached at patrick@tamburrino.com.

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