Manage Your Long Distance Face To Face Meetings

Running a successful meeting is one of the best ways to engage your staff and create a feeling of job satisfaction. With videoconferencing, managers have the opportunity to bring together geographically distant project teams and personnel without the hassle and expenses associated with business travel. Managing the bottom line and learning how to manage long-distance face-to-face videoconferences can also reduce stress on managers and increase their feeling of job satisfaction and engagement, too.

Business Travel Is a Budget Killer

Everyone knows and understands the expenses associated with business travel. Transportation to and around the city, hotel accommodations, meals, and other costs can push even a well-padded travel budget to the brink. According to a Verizon study, and five people meeting can generate a tab of over $5000. When you consider that busy professionals can find themselves needing to manage over 60 meetings per month, the costs can be astronomical. Even beyond the cash hit, is the cost to the workflow in the office, and the cost in stress on the employee as they spend more time away from their family, and their regular office workflow. Conversely, 92 percent deeply value the experience and interaction that they take away from meetings, seeing successful meetings as a valuable resource to enhance satisfaction, productivity, and give them a chance to contribute.

Using videoconferencing as a way to cut back on travel expenses, and bring together geographically distant personnel can give one the best of both worlds. As the technology has matured beyond server-based, room anchored systems and into cloud-based technologies such as Blue Jeans videoconferencing, anyone with a desktop, laptop, tablet, or even a smart phone can participate. However, managing these meetings takes a few tips and tricks to make it satisfying and engaging for everyone involved.

Building from the Basics

Videoconferencing has a distinct advantage over teleconferencing, according to Investopedia, in that users are able to see as well as hear one another which leads to the development of stronger relationships. This is an especially important factor when personnel and teams are spread across multiple locations, or even across continents. Everyone has those bad meeting for stories, but learning to run an effective video meeting is not that different from running any other kind of meeting. Everyone needs the chance to contribute and be heard, so keeping meetings as small as possible gives everyone the chance without having it eat a significant portion of the day.

Tips for Meeting Managers

  • Choose a location where distracting noises and activity will be at a minimum.
  • If the meeting will occur across multiple time zones, consult with other managers and work out the best time of day for everyone involved.
  • Arrive before your meeting start time in order to test the videoconferencing system and interface, do an audio check, and adjust the lighting for the camera.
  • If your system does not have an instant messaging function, you may wish to set up a back channel method of communication so as not to interrupt the speakers.
  • You may wish to set a time limit on speakers so that everyone will have the chance to be heard, and for a question and answer session.

Creating and distributing a small orientation package will help your participants to understand how to conduct themselves. People using videoconferencing technology for the first time may be unfamiliar with how to dress for the camera, speak, or interact with other participants. Northwestern University offers some 101 level tips for first-time users such as:

  • Avoid clothing with strong patterns such as plaids and stripes, as well as very bright colors. These can cause distracting effects on camera.
  • When addressing the meeting, begin with name, location, and department.
  • Speak in a normal tone of voice directly into the microphone and looking directly at the camera.
  • When not speaking, participants should mute their microphones or reduce distracting noises and side conversations.
  • If more time is required, a request should be made to the meeting manager.

Videoconferencing for meetings can be a rewarding and satisfying practice to all participants if properly conducted. In a study done by Gigaom, it is stated that 65 percent of face-to-face communication is completely nonverbal. Visual cues such as facial expression, stance, and body language were vital to comprehension – even more so than the verbal component of the meeting. Interacting with other people and being able to see these visual cues is often the key to eliminating miscommunications and misunderstandings that can be a part of emailing, instant messenger communication, or even a phone call. By implementing a system that everyone can use like Blue Jeans, either for planned meetings or simply off-the-cuff face-to-face conversations, companies and management can create a valuable resource for their staffs while eliminating significant drains on budgets, time allocation, and workplace stressors.

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