Though it might not be cheered the way smartphones or other technological jumps are, video conferencing has still had a major impact on people’s lives and businesses around the globe. The best aspect of video conferencing is the ease with which you can begin a meeting. No matter the platform you are using, be it a smartphone, tablet, or computer, in almost all cases, a single button click can start a conference with someone half a world away. Suddenly starting a video conference with a friend or family member might be perfectly acceptable, but in a serious business environment, taking some time to set up and plan out your video conference will be the better route. So here are some critical steps you should take when planning out your next video conference.
Decide on Purpose of Meeting
This might seem incredibly obvious, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t crucial. Take the time to think about what you want to call a meeting for, and don’t just try to find a contrived topic to host a meeting for. Think about whether that topic is worth planning a meeting. Perhaps when you first saw the latest project you thought you needed to get a meeting going ASAP, but after some thought, you may realize it’s not worth the effort and a few emails will do the trick. You don’t want to waste time planning out a meeting when it won’t be productive. Community Tool Box suggests polling the participants for agenda items if the meeting is a routine staff meeting. But if it’s for something special, the meeting organizer should take the time to prepare an agenda.
Figure out who will take part
Again this step might seem obvious, and again, this is a crucial step that should not be glossed over. Once you’ve figured out what your conference will be focused on, you need to decide who needs to be a part of the meeting. If you’re calling a meeting for an internal project, what managers and department heads will be involved? If you’re planning a business meeting with overseas clients, will you need translators? Which executives need to be there? Write out a list if you have to, but be careful of adding too many people. You’re trying to plan a meeting, not a convention.
Plan out a timeframe
This step isn’t particularly important if your meeting is all internal within your company; chances are that most, if not all the participants will be within the same building. But if it’s an international meeting or a meeting between distant company branches, planning out a time frame that meets with everyone’s schedules can be a chore. Time zones can be annoying to deal with, but you’ll have to talk with all your participants and figure out when everyone is available, then plan accordingly.
Choose your Meeting Venue
There are a lot of choices when it comes to picking the software and hardware you are going to use for your meeting. There are so many options it could be easy to become overwhelmed into indecision. In all truth, the video conference software provider you choose won’t have very much impact on the overall quality of your meeting. Many video conferencing options have similar features and capabilities. With choices ranging from Blue Jeans HD Video Conferencing to Skype to Google Hangouts, you have a wide swathe of options to sort through. You should definitely take some time to compare the ones that interest you most.
Perhaps you aren’t planning on using your phones and tablets for this meeting though? Perhaps it’s important enough and big enough that you want to look into booking a large conference room or two. If that’s the case, then The University of Sydney suggests spending some serious time on preparation, getting your participants to book all the space needed and getting a hold of a bridge to connect everyone together.
When going about your conference planning, the most important thing to keep in mind is focus. You don’t want any extraneous subject material. You don’t want any extraneous participants, and you don’t want any wasted time. Southern Cross University suggests doing some test calls before the actual meeting to make sure everything works properly.
You don’t want to be partway through the meeting and about to begin a visual presentation when the system decides it doesn’t want to load up your PowerPoint. Testing the system before the conference can save you from some nasty surprises. Losing a client because of avoidable technical difficulties is a good way to get yourself fired. So take your time, plan accordingly and test the system.