In the Mad Men era, meetings had to happen in person in a fancy office or restaurant. All sorts of time was spent traveling around and assembling people in one location for presentations.
Thank goodness we now have the option of virtual meetings. Though many applications are available to let small groups gather together for presentations, our favorite (and one of the most popular) is GoToMeeting.
GoToMeeting is well-designed, easy to use, and fairly affordable. It allows teams to gather together and conduct presentations virtually. It also lets attendees join the meeting without special software and without creating an account on any particular social network.
GoToMeeting gives you plenty of options for virtual collaboration but we'd like to share a few tips for getting the most out of your meetings.
Use Recurring Meeting Template
By default, GoToMeeting asks you to set up a new meeting every time you want to meet. This results in a new call-in number and code every time. However, if you set up a recurring meeting, you can re-use that same information every time –– same number and code. Then you can store the info in a text document or something like TextExpander so you can pop it into calendar invites and emails every time you want to schedule a meeting. Saves lots of time!
GoToMeeting allows you to use your computer's microphone and speakers for audio instead of calling in but this is usually a bad idea. Even if your computer has good audio (for example, if you're on a Mac... ahem) chances are not everyone has the same audio quality. When given the choice, most people will use the default of mic ad speakers via VoIP but inevitably someone will have bad audio. Disable the VoIP option in your recurring meeting everyone will be required to call in. It will sound much better.
Update: I've changed my mind a bit on this one. It seems like more and more computers are being produced with better audio so this is less of a problem. We now leave VoIP enabled but are quick to ask people to use a headset or call in if they have audio issues.
Record Meetings for Notes
GoToMeeting also gives you the option to record meetings and save them to your computer. This means you can go back and reference things from the meetings. This can come in handy if you missed some notes or need to share the meeting with someone who could not make it. Disclaimer: check your state laws on recording conversations so you know the rules.
Join from Mobile Devices
GoToMeeting now lets you join (and host) meetings from mobile devices like iPad and iPhone. This means you can be even more mobile and perhaps even conduct that big presentation from anywhere, like the beach or poolside (don't tell your co-workers)!
Use a Headset — Not Speakerphone
As much as people love to use speakerphones, they usually sound terrible to the people on the other end of the line. Instead, use a bluetooth headset or headphones with mic so you can keep your hands free while preserving audio quality.
Use Video Sparingly
GoToMeeting offers a video conferencing option but it only works well if everyone has a fast connection and a good camera. Unless this is the case, don't worry about using video. Many people find it distracting anyway.
Use Verbal Cues During Pauses
Unless you are using video, be sure to offer verbal cues to tell everyone what is going on if you need to pause to take notes or read something. A little feedback like "stand by... I'm taking a few notes" goes a long way toward avoiding awkward silences.
Lead With Confidence
If you are the meeting organizer, run your meeting with an assertive, energetic tone so things keep moving. It takes a little more energy to keep a virtual meeting moving along so don't be afraid to take charge and run your meeting with confidence.
Don't Mix Contexts
Instead of clustering half of your group around one computer at a conference table and the other half at their own computers, level the playing field by just having everyone join from their own computers (even if you're in the same office). It will make the entire meeting much more even and smooth. If you really want to cluster people around a conference table, use aChromebox for meetings.
Now that you're a GoToMeeting power user, you can run virtual meetings that are effective and productive. This saves time and money on travel and can help you get more done.