Having to distance ourselves from each other, switching to remote meetings, wearing face masks everywhere we go – the historic events that took place in 2020 have impacted the lives of many people around the world. Some have been affected on a permanent basis. It is clear that there are people who have suffered more than others in terms of adapting to a new way of life. However, we can all agree that the year 2020 has imposed a change in daily routine and habits in the entire world. If there’s one integral aspect of life that has been affected greatly and that has had to progress in order to survive is, in fact, communication.
To put it simply, communication refers to the act of transferring information from one place to another. Communication is a primary part of daily life that we as humans simply can’t go without. Being able to get your message across is perhaps the most important of all life skills. It is what enables us to pass on information to other people and to understand what is said to us. Whether it’s through the daily newspaper article, the practice of sign language or the cheerful giggle of a child, giving and receiving communicative forms of information is a part of what it means to be human.
With the rise of the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020, we have been forced to find new mediums that allow us to communicate. When we couldn’t meet each other at our daily places to be, when we couldn’t shake hands and when we had to hide our faces with protective masks, we found a new way to fulfil our need to communicate. That is, by utilising the full abilities of the digital world.
By moving our gatherings online, we have got used to remote meetings that enable us to keep business, education and health alive. If you’re reading this article, chances are you have had to join a virtual video call to communicate with work, school or family and friends. And by now, you might have started to realise and experience the full capabilities of online gatherings. To gain a better understanding of all the possibilities of remote meetings, we’ll be delving into some of their advantages that will help us grasp what importance they might have in the future.
What Are the Benefits of Remote Meetings?
Remote meetings increase opportunities. It’s not always possible to attend a meeting you receive an invite for, mainly due to restrictions in time and distance. This is especially problematic with people having to deal with a large number of clients that are situated in different countries all around the world. When hosting online meetings for potential or existing clients, the number of attendants is mostly likely to increase if the event is conducted online. This is in comparison with the traditional face-to-face way of meeting.
Conducting virtual meetups is also cost-efficient. Why? All that attendees need are a technological device and an Internet connection. On the other hand, meetings that take place in real life require time and money to travel and host. At times, this can even extend to hotel accommodation among other required meeting facilities.
Another benefit is that virtual meetings are able to spark creativity and add communicative ease by allowing for effective technological features. It is said that a picture speaks a thousand words and making use of digital platforms to convey a message can be very convincing, especially during online conferences. What’s more, different people have different ways of getting a message across, and by making use of all that technology has got to offer, online meetups can even help some people flourish. Technological features such as whiteboards are especially useful.
To top it all off, remote meetings are also friendly to the environment! Given that virtual meetings themselves work on green technology, businesses are able to reduce the ever increasing amount of carbon in the environment. This environment-friendly communication medium that reduces travel emissions and paper printing can be used by both large corporations as well as new startups.
The Best Video Conferencing Softwares
Ever since lockdown began and different organisations began shifting towards remote work, Zoom has been the go-to conferencing app on everybody’s computer or mobile. The first thing anybody can notice about Zoom is that most of its features are matched or exceeded by other apps. While Zoom is not the most advanced video conferencing software out there, it still remains one of the most popular apps. Here’s why.
Zoom allows you to host free remote meeetings with no time limit and group calls with up to 100 people as long as you don’t talk for more than 40 minutes. Paid plans let you chat with up to 1,000 people at once, which can be useful for large multinational companies.
Moreover, Zoom is incredibly reliable. You can record any call as a full-length video. Participants can also use text chat to talk with each other, either as a group or as individual private messages during a call. This software also enables you to share your screen, with the option to either show your whole screen or just one of the screens you’d like to run.
Zoom even lets you schedule calls in advance, chat anytime with any of your contacts, or connect to room conferencing hardware.
Skype is convenient, easy to use and one of these best software out there for remote meetings. First of all, Skype was one of the original video conferencing apps out there, standing among some of the longest lasting software that caters to online remote meetings. The advantage of this is that it has made it easy for businesses to switch to remote work since the assumption is that a large part of the work force is used to using Skype (especially for anybody who finds technology to be somewhat challenging to grasp).
Since Skype supports international calling and texting, it’s a comprehensive solution for friends and family that live countries away. This has been advantageous to plenty of families living in different countries during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Should you have specific needs, like screen sharing on mobile, or live transcription and translation, Skype covers those bases, too.
If you have ever video called your friends or family, you’ve probably used Google Hangouts. While this software is convenient and light enough for anybody to use, it’s meant for casual online calls rather than remote meetings for work, given that it only allows the meeting of 10 people at a time.
Google Meet, however, is the more business-oriented version of Google Hangouts. Google Meet’s best feature perhaps is that it offers high integration with Google’s other apps. Whenever you create a meeting in Google Calendar, you’ll get a Meet link that you and your meeting attendees can click to instantly join a call. And when you’re in the middle of a call, you can find files from Google Drive and other Google apps and share them in chat, without leaving your call. You can even start a call directly from your Gmail inbox. This is especially convenient for people who need a little extra help in staying organised.
With Google Meet, you can invite up to 100 people, record meetings, share your screen and stream HD video. Users who pay can even record meetings to Google Drive and enable live-stream viewing to up to 100,000 viewers. Attendees can access your meeting via the web app, a special phone number, or even via rival services such as Skype for Business.
This software designed for remote meetings is made for businesses. While other video conferencing apps including the ones mentioned above, such as Skype and Google Hangouts, are broadly aimed at anyone wanting to organise a group chat, GoToMeeting is specifically aimed at professionality and convenience for businesses and organisations. This service is packed with features to make your meetings organised and up to standard. It supporting between 150 and 3,000 invitees, depending on your pricing plan.
GoToMeeting can choose to schedule a recurring session or start a one-time call. You are able to create a custom link for your meeting—which is a great feature if you’ll be inviting people outside of your company or running a publicly-available virtual event.
Furthermore, this remote meeting software offers all the features including call recording, dial-in numbers and HD video for up to six participants. You can even monitor your audio levels from the app’s toolbar, so you can see exactly how loud you’re being during the call. This is as executive as it gets.
Using Whiteboards on a Remote Meeting
The great thing about shifting to remote meetings is the given advantage of being able to utilise technological tools that only enhance your meetings. Sometimes, the best way to make somebody understand what you mean is to let them visualise it with their own eyes. Whiteboards pave the way for clearer (and thus more effective) communication.
A whiteboard enables you to give a full glimpse of your mind’s full imagination without leaving anything out. By being able to scribble a doodle your thoughts in a meeting, it will be easier for you to not leave anything out. Indeed, whiteboards help in avoiding to forget certain details. Most whiteboard features on software designed for remote meetings allow you to use images, slides, visual elements, documents and more. Sometimes, all it takes is the right visual aid to help get your message across convincingly to a sizeable group of people.
To add on, it can be said that when you’re in a virtual meeting and making use of a whiteboard on call, you’ll be encouraging other participants to get creative and contribute to what you’re saying in a freeing, unlimited way. If you’d like to make your remote meetings more practical and open to creativity and sharing of ideas, you might find a whiteboard to be of a great benefit.
Tips on Making an Online Meeting More Engaging
Remote meetings make life all that much easier. Many companies around the world have found this new way of working to be so easy, that they’ve switched to adopting internal and external remote meetings instead of in-office gatherings. However, the catch that comes with working through online and remote meetings is that it can be difficult to keep your audience constantly engaged for a prolonged period of time. That being said, there are a number of things anybody can start doing during video conferencing in order to make a presentation or meeting more interesting for an audience.
Stick To a Plan
A lot of unnecessary time is wasted during remote meetings when hosts don’t stick to a pre-planned agenda. In today’s age, gathering together a group of busy people for a video call takes plenty of effort, and the last thing you’ll want is to have people feeling as though you’re wasting their time. Have a plan with specific items you need to discuss and stick to them – it is better to share the agenda ahead of time so others can be prepared as well!
Break the Ice with Small Talk
Breaking the ice isn’t only fitting when you’re just getting to know a person. No matter how long you’ve known your colleagues and employees, engaging in a bit of small talk before diving into a remote meeting goes a long way. This helps to set a welcoming and warm tone as well as to allow everyone a short break from the demanding tasks of the day-to-day work routine. Engaging in small talk also helps employees to get comfortable and familiar with one another.
In a major and lengthy remote meeting where you’ll need your participants’ full attention, it can be smart to assign roles to people. This will keep them alert and focused from beginning to end. Meeting roles an include a facilitator, somebody who keeps the time, somebody takes note of action points, somebody to write down improvement points and more.