Videoconferences are a great way to reduce travel expenses and improve the overall efficiency of your business. In some situations, they can actually be more focused and effective than face to face meetings.

Without proper planning, however, they can become a frustrating waste of time for all concerned.

Here are some tips to help you avoid some common pitfalls.

Decide Whether a Videoconference is Necessary and Appropriate

Don’t elect to hold a videoconference simply because you can. In some cases a voice conference may suit your needs and help you avoid technical problems that can occur when video conferencing. If the participants are all working collaboratively on a document or project, it might be more beneficial to go with a screen-sharing conference.

Make Sure Participants are Comfortable with VideoConferencing

Some people simply don’t like the idea of being on-camera under any circumstances. The reason may be insecurity about their appearance or surroundings or even a cultural predisposition.

It’s always a good idea to give meeting participants the option of an alternative conference method to avoid any awkward feelings. An attendee’s lack of participation due to shyness could be misinterpreted as a lack of interest and could affect the mood and outcome of the entire videoconference.

Conduct a Test Run Prior to the Videoconference

Prior to the actual videoconference, have all participants check to make sure they have the necessary equipment and a reliable Internet connection. You should also confirm that they know how to use the equipment. If it’s been awhile since someone participated in a videoconference, suggest a dry run to make sure they’re comfortable with the process and the technology.

Eliminate Distractions During the Videoconference

Attendees should eliminate any and all distractions for the duration of the videoconference. If a conference participant typically works in a noisy atmosphere, you might want to suggest that they set up their laptop in a conference room or other location where they won’t be distracted and where they won’t distract their co-workers.

At the beginning of the videoconference, politely ask all participants to set their cell phones to vibrate and turn off any other electronic devices that might be a distraction.

Create an Agenda for your Videoconference

As in a face to face meeting, it’s a good idea to allow a few minutes for participants to visit casually prior to launching into the business at hand. But don’t let the pleasantries eat into the conference time.

Provide all participants with a written agenda prior to the video conference. Include a timetable for the conference and stick to it. Doing so will ensure that all participants have the opportunity to participate and that they are respectful of each other’s time.

By keeping these tips in mind, you can avoid the most common pitfalls and ensure that your videoconferences run smoothly and efficiently.

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