We work in an increasingly connected world. We can meet with someone a thousand miles away without ever leaving the comfort of our own office. This cuts down on costs, as well as travel time, but often, distance meetings leave something to be desired. Nothing beats meeting in person, but a great distance meeting can be a close second.
Below are three things you can do to elevate your distance meetings from mediocre to great.
1. Stream Video of Yourself to Make the Meetings More Personal
Early in the meeting as a part of the introduction, at the end as part of your sign-off, and a few times in between when the conversation about the content is more important than the material on the screen… it’s good to switch over to video so people can see you’re an actual human.
Doing this well requires a modest USB video camera (not the one on your laptop), positioned in front of a monitor/display so that as you look at your monitor, the group feels like you’re making eye contact with them. I use a Microsoft camera that I think cost $30 or so at an Office Depot.
2. Meet your Participants Face-to-Face
If at all possible, encourage your meeting participants to also activate a webcam on their end of the meeting. One of the things that is lost on a conference call, WebEx or GoToMeeting is often your ability to “feel the room,” and respond to unspoken feedback that you might be getting from the people attending the meeting. While it doesn’t replace true, in-person eye contact… creating the opportunity for you, the presenter, to see how your material is being received on the other end can be remarkably helpful (to both you and them)!
3. See the Meeting Through the Eyes of Attendees
I like to “sign-in” through a second device when I’m hosting a meeting; usually, I use my iPad for that. That way, I can “see” the material on-screen the way most of my audience sees it… and I know a delay is happening (due to Internet traffic, etc.) before anyone in the audience has to tell me. Doing this allows one to adjust their pace accordingly.
Implementing these tips will be neither complicated nor expensive. And they’ll greatly improve your distance meetings by showing your audience that you’re more than just a disembodied voice on the other end of a speakerphone. Your presentation will be more personal, and therefore more likely to be appreciated and remembered.