How to Run an Online Video Meeting Virtually?
Since the introduction of the internet, there has been a huge opportunity for companies to expand and collaborate with others globally. In the past, collaboration with people meant having to travel to meet face-to-face with one another. Now through virtual business meetings, it is no longer necessary to travel to meet with your team to work together on projects effectively. There a number of service providers for hosting online meetings, like webex, gotomeeting, and joinme. The best online meeting tools for running online business meetings, available today are found using zoom meetings. Zoom has over 600,000 companies currently using their service, and have received a number of accolades, including being recognised as the 2016 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Conferencing.
Teleconference vs. Video Conference
Teleconferences traditionally had been held over a traditional phone line or mobile phone. Zoom offers teleconferencing solutions, which allow participants to participate in a meeting from multiple locations online. When a meeting is held only with audio features, there is no video to use for visual reference. As a result, it may become difficult for participants to know who is speaking at all times. This confusion may be reduced if every participant identifies himself or herself before commenting, but this is not a common way of speaking for many people and takes time to get used to doing.
A video conference is different, in that it includes a video feed for participants to use as a visual reference when engaging with one another. These types of meetings may be used for a presentation, for sales meetings, for training of personnel, or for interviewing a potential job applicant, just to name a few. If you have a number of employees or business consultants who work from a remote location, virtual business meetings allow for these individuals to collaborate with employees from other locations. As a result, they are ideal for brainstorming sessions or product planning meetings.
Benefits of Virtual Meetings
A large portion of an employee’s work day is often consumed with meetings. When these meetings take place off site from his or her work site, requires additional resources in order for business to be conducted as usual. Resources need to be used for travel expenses and accommodations while away from the office. In addition, job responsibilities while away from the office often have to be reassigned to a different employee to oversee temporarily. By attending virtual business meetings online, these employees are able to help reduce some of the strain traditional business meetings may have on a company’s day-to day activities. More specifically, examples of benefits include:
- Travel – one of the most obvious benefits is the significant reduction in travel time and expenses when attending online business meetings over traditional meetings. Virtual meetings instead can be attended using a webcam and microphone to attend a meeting with minimal additional time commitment to set-up for the meetings, and reducing the amount of time spent travelling to and from meetings. When using Zoom meetings, the setup is very minimal, and can be accessed from Windows and Mac based computers, as well as Android and Apple based mobile devices, making it even more convenient, no matter what work setting an employee is in. Virtual meeting software also makes it possible for sales meetings to be conducted remotely and reduces the amount of time needed to travel between clients, making it possible for your sales team to be more efficient and meet with more customers in less amount of time.
- Space Concerns – Some businesses have ample space for hosting larger meetings, while others have significant limitations in the space available for hosting large meetings. As a result, many times, when companies want to host a large seminar, they have to locate a different site to hold the number of meeting participants. With renting a space, there are additional expenses incurred to hold these meetings. Hosting a virtual webinar, the need for large meeting spaces is greatly reduced. Participants can join a meeting from a number of remote locations either independently or as a smaller group, making it possible to attend the meeting without worrying about having a large enough space for all attendees to meet. Zoom webinar also has the potential to be recorded and shared later with other participants, or used as a reference. As a result, the number of potential attendees increases drastically, and the potential is endless when space concerns are eliminated.
- Productivity – Virtual meetings present an opportunity for employees to be more productive in a meeting than in traditional teleconference meetings, or when traveling to attend a face-to-face meeting. Traditional teleconference calls do not offer participants the same visual references possible in video meetings. Zoom meetings, also give the opportunity for additional collaboration tools to be used, like screen sharing, making it possible for all participants to see the same content during a meeting and interact with one another. Another benefit to employees’ productivity, is when an employee does not have to travel for significant portions of his or her work week, they are able to take that time and put it into his or her work tasks. In addition, the mental strain travel can place on an individual is reduced when attending a virtual meeting, making it possible from employees to focus on their work and be more productive. The amount of productivity is not only limited to the team in being able to complete the tasks assigned, but also makes collaboration with outside vendors and clients to be more productive.
- Opportunities – One of the last benefits of hosting virtual meetings instead of traditional work meetings is the opportunity it presents for more employees to be able to participate in a meeting or webinar. This is also an added bonus when hosting a meeting for clients and customers. Clients will not have to make any additional travel commitments to attend the meeting, and be more likely to attend a meeting when able to do so from the comfort of their own desk. Other opportunities also become available when using virtual meeting software. Zoom allows you to plan a meeting in advance and invite attendee on a short notice to allow employees to collaborate with one another. This same type of a meeting will be more difficult to coordinate at a moment’s notice and being able to find a location to meet. When the need arises, Zoom also makes it possible for an employee to speak with another employee by starting a meeting immediately, allowing one another to see and interact with one another and be more productive. The possibilities are also the same for sale meetings with customers and potential clients. Your sales team does not have to necessarily travel to meet with a customer to demonstrate a new product or answer questions a client may have.
Benefits of Zoom Meetings Over Traditional Conference Calls
Besides the cost and time savings from not having to travel for meetings, there are a number of other benefits to using Zoom for your virtual business meetings online, that may not be available when using other virtual meeting software.
- Hosting and participating in a meeting is convenient. Zoom meetings are particularly convenient for online business meetings. The platform is compatible for Mac and Windows computers, as well as Android and Apple mobile devices, making it easy for people to participate in a meeting. Meetings can be started at a moment’s notice, or can be planned in advance offering your business the opportunity for flexibility when holding meetings.
- Zoom does not require any specialty equipment for participants to attend the meeting, and can easily be set-up on different devices. Most participants are able to set up Zoom meetings unassisted, and start using the software immediately.
- Zoom offers on screen support and troubleshooting to help ensure your online meetings run smoothly. Anyone needing help with troubleshooting, the Zoom team is available to assist over the phone, remotely, or when appropriate, in person.
- There are a number of online collaboration tools (available on the Zoom Platform) which are not available in a traditional phone conference call, or with other service providers. This includes screen sharing, instant messaging, and the ability to make annotations on information shared between participants.
- There are options available for recording meetings for viewing later by participants who were not able to attend, or for reference purposes later.
How to Setup Your Zoom Meeting
Even with these added benefits, for companies first looking to use meeting software, the idea of the initial setup and running online business meetings can be intimidating. Zoom offers one of the easiest unified communication platforms to implement, making the process run as smoothly as possible from the very first meeting. After downloading and installing the Zoom platform on your Windows or Mac computer, or your Apple or Android mobile device, the process of being able to run an online meeting only takes a few simple steps.
- Step 1: Open the application, and determine if you want to start a meeting immediately, or if you want to schedule a future meeting. To begin a meeting right away, select “host a meeting” and you will be able to start Zoom meetings and invite participants to join. If looking to host a meeting at a later point in time, the “schedule a meeting” feature allows you to schedule a meeting in advance and invite participants to join you at the designated time.
- Step 2: Start hosting your meeting. When ready to start your meeting, you can decide if you want to conduct a meeting with or without video. Without a video, the meeting will resemble a more traditional conference call; however, if you use video, participants will be able to see one another in high definition video and interact one another, similarly to how they would when in the same room together.
- Step 3: Invite participants when starting a meeting immediately. Once you start your online meeting, you can easily invite participants at any time to join the meeting. Simply select the “invite” option on the meeting window. Participants can be invited a number of different ways to join the meeting. You can simply copy and paste the URL for the meeting into an e-mail message to all participants you are inviting. Or, copy the invitation and paste it into an e-mail message to participants. Or lastly, there is an option to use an e-mail service within the app to send an email with a pre-formatted invitation to participants.
- Step 4: Schedule and invite participants for a future meeting. Start with assigning a topic which clearly states the reason for your meeting. Then select the date, time, duration, and time zone you want to host the meeting. Select the video, audio, meeting, and calendar preferences for your online meeting. Once selected, after clicking the schedule button, you will be able to copy and paste all of the meeting details to invite the participants to join the meeting.
Maximising Your Meeting Time
Just like a traditional business meeting, make sure you are prepared for your virtual business meetings. Have an agenda prepared, and if someone other than the host is moderating the meeting, make sure they are prepared before the start of the meeting. The moderator can help to ensure the meeting stays on time, and the discussion stays on topic. Encourage all of the participants to set-up and test their devices and software at least once before the meeting so they can join the meeting on time. Once the meeting has started, encourage everyone to actively participate in the discussion so the meeting is as productive as possible. When your online meeting runs smoothly, the potential is endless for meeting your company’s goals.
If your company is ready to reap the benefits of using virtual meetings, the Zoom team is ready to answer any questions you may have. You can even start with a free plan with no introductory time limit to hold as many 40 minute or less online meetings as you want, to see if Zoom helps your meetings to be more productive. Get in contact with our team at Holistic Communications to get you started with your UC set up and next Video call.