Are you tired of driving hours to see clients? Do you find it awkward to share information from your laptop? Or maybe you drive two hours to meet with a customer and–after arriving–realize you need additional information (but it’s back at your office). Online meetings solve these problems.
Pick an Online Meeting Solution
First, you need to choose a video conferencing solution. Some popular alternatives include:
Here is a PC Magazine article that compares many of these products. All of the video conferencing packages offer free versions for testing. After using four different online meeting products, I found they provide similar abilities–the sharing of my computer screen and audio features.
What video conferencing software do I use? Zoom. It is easy to use and reliable. Here’s a summary of plan options, and yes, the free version works well.
The point of this article is not to sell you on a particular online meeting product, but to sell you on the concept. I have spent years of my life (at least it feels that way) driving to and from client’s offices. So when I heard about online meetings, I gave it a try.
My First Online Meeting
My first online meeting sold me. A few years ago I was assisting an attorney with a forensic project. My final report was several hundred pages long. The supporting files (not included in the report) were also voluminous. Rather than making a 4.5-hour trip, I did the following:
- Opened the draft report on my center computer screen
- Opened supporting documents on my two side computer screens
- Shared my screen center computer screen using my online meeting software—the attorney, once he clicked the link in the next bullet, could see the information
- Sent the attorney an email (with a hyperlink) to join the meeting—my online software automatically creates the email (which can be amended)
- Called the attorney with my cell phone and went hands-free so I could use my mouse (you can use audio in your online software, I just prefer using my phone)
- When the attorney answered my call, I told him I had sent him an invitation email, and I walked him through connecting (which took less than two minutes)
- We reviewed the draft report from my center computer screen
- When needed, I moved supporting documents from my two side screens to the center display (and then moved them off as needed)—think of this as moving information on and off stage
The meeting lasted one hour. Once done, the attorney said to me, “This is one of the best meetings I’ve ever attended.”
Saving Four Hours
So rather than taking 5.5 hours (4.5 hours of driving and the 1-hour session), the meeting took 1.5 hours (including setup time). I saved four hours—and I didn’t even have to sit in the attorney’s lobby and wait for him. Also, I didn’t have to stop and refuel my vehicle, and I didn’t have to file an expense report.
Online Conferencing in My Office
Since that first online meeting, I realized that it’s more efficient for me to do the same with my firm personnel. So am I saying I have online meetings with people in my office? Yes. Why? It takes less time—and again, I have access to any file I need. Additionally, we are not crowded around one small computer screen, trying to see everything. (Note: We have 120 people located on three floors.)
Though I don’t often do so, you can backup your online meetings. Then if you need to refer back to the session, you can watch the video.
Some people don’t want to be seen. Perhaps they are working from home and are still in their pajamas. If they have their camera on, you will see them, and they will see you. So be mindful of this dynamic. (You can turn your camera off, and they can as well.)
For a more professional look, consider buying a video camera. I use a Logitech device. Why? Laptop cameras (those built into your computer) often project grainy pictures.
Stay Tuned for Video Example
I’ll soon share a video of how I set up and conduct online meetings. So stay tuned.
Do you already use online meeting software? If yes, what solution do you use? What video conferencing suggestions do you offer?
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