Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Six Tricks: Web Conferencing Improvements

The best way to improve your Web Conference is to behave as if you are in a face-to-face meeting: come prepared, and don't use this time to surf the Web or catch up on email. Since there is no setup or pre-meeting mingling, Web Conferencing is frequently more efficient and productive than in-person meetings. Here are six ways to help your next web conference run smoothly:

1. Don't Fly Blind
Test your presentation beforehand, and test your Web Conferencing connection and equipment. No one finds web conferencing novel enough these to wait while you fumble with your microphone or realize that there's not enough bandwidth for your 60 MB presentation.

2. Check In Early

If you're hosting, this means at least 15 minutes before the scheduled start time, and if you're a participant, at least 5 minutes. This allows time for any last-minute technical goofs, browser updates, and pre-meeting small talk. Remember, hosts: most services don't allow anyone to log in until you're present.

3. Engage Your Audience
Keep your content straightforward and your manner as lively as the situation allows. If you are using a PowerPoint presentation, be sure that you are not merely reading your slides to your audience. Try not to narrate any processes that you would not highlight during a face-to-face meeting ("Hang on while I load up this next one...there it goes...oh, an error message...hang on..."). While Web Conferences allow for a greater level of collaboration, they also demand concise content and a well-prepared, knowledgeable presenter.

Ken Molay at The Webinar Blog just posted a great piece about improving your presentations for those of you who feel you need more help in this area.

4. Take Advantage of the Medium
Make use of the available interactive features. You can highlight and add pointers to static slides or documents in order to guide your participants' attention and keep things interesting. Use polls (quizzes) to make sure that your key points are being understood. You can design your polls in advance and offer them as the presentation goes along; you can also create polls to keep track of your participants' interest levels and to encourage participation. Guided questions (e.g. "Is this function of the new widget clear?") are more effective than general questions such as "Are there any questions?" For basic or yes/no questions, participants can simply use the "raise hand" feature to respond.

5. Wrap It Up
Be prepared for Q&A. It is commonplace to set aside a few minutes after a presentation or meeting to address questions that were not answered during the event. Participants can ask questions directly to the host, and the host can choose to keep it one-on-one or broadcast the answer to the whole group.

6. Follow Up
Many of the audio conferencing tips are just as valid for web conferencing, but this one bears repeating. Especially for large web meetings, a follow-up email is critical. I recommend attaching a copy of the presentation and any documents that were used, as well as any notes from the meeting and important Q&A info. This is also a great chance to ask for feedback - even just "How could this web meeting have been better for you?" can alert you to areas of improvement in your presentation or technology.

Web conferencing is moving quickly and growing each day, but these tips will serve you well no matter what your audience or intentions. Stay tuned for specific tips on web conferencing in sales, education, and HR.

1 comment:

James Vincent said...

Above mentioned points serve as excellent guidelines for improving our web conferences. Tools like RHUB, gotomeeting, WebEx etc. can be used regarding the same.