Original Post by Helen Lancaster
Become a master of virtual collaboration with these top tips for marketers.
Every marketer understands, or should understand the benefits of virtual meetings: you cut down on travel, you reach and build relationships with existing and potential clients much faster, you gain access to a wider pool of marketing expertise and projects with disparate team members don’t seem quite so disparate.
There are pitfalls too, however, and it’s possible to lose an opportunity. Most often it’s because although the speaker is often visible, he or she still loses a lot of the benefits of being present in person: the handshake, the eye contact, the proximity. It’s essential therefore to compensate for these by other means. To help you do that, here are some top tips to help you excel at virtual collaboration.
First let’s start with the basics:
Whether on a webinar to hundreds , web-conferencing with your team, or video conferencing from home here are some top-tips to help you, and your audience, get the most out of the experience (these tips are worth keeping in mind for most professional interactions!).
It may sound basic, but it is vital that you speak more clearly than usual. Humans are typically quite forgiving of mumbles, umm-ing and aahing when they are face to face. When a screen is involved they are likely to go into what we might call “expecting a performance” mode in which every slip is magnified.
Rehearse, rehearse and rehearse again
The idea of ‘expecting a performance’ also brings us on to the need for clarity and rehearsal. These two aspects are more important than they would appear in a normal meeting – particularly when you’re in marketing as listeners will expect a certain panache.
Keep the audience’s attention
There is also the issue of attention. To the participants you are not a person, you might be a box on their screen, and a box among many. For this reason you need to hold their attention more assiduously than you might normally.
Remember, you’re a professional
Always be in a professional setting even if you’re not in the office. Imagine if one of contacts involved in a video conference was fairly clearly at home with pets, children and dressing gown clearly visible. It would hardly reflect an attitude of professionalism or an interest in the subject being discussed.
Top Tip – Be professional! According to a recent survey…
7% of people had seen someone participate in a video conference from bed
17% of Americans have seen someone’s pet wander in front of the webcam
20% (yes 20%) admit to wearing pyjamas on the bottom half and a professional looking top on a video call!
Moving into the details…
You’ve mastered the basics, now keep those tips in mind and explore the different elements of virtual collaboration for marketers.
Some tips for… web-conferencing
Web-conferencing enables you and your team to collaborate on the same documents at the same time and often include video and audio integration.
Don’t restrict your communication
Your team are joining in on a web-conference from around the country or even the globe, from coffee shops, trains and their front rooms. With this level of inter-connectivity already in place before the meeting has started it seems odd to restrict yourself to one form of communication once the meeting starts. Keep your channels open; join via the audio option, stick the video on to see the familiar faces, drop a colleague a secure message to clarify a point, create a group message to clarify if everyone can see your screen; make your communication as fluid as your ideas.
Leave the laptop behind (if you want)…
While your communications may now be more fluid, your approach needs to match. You and your team might be connecting from various locations, from anywhere – but what about the anyhow? If your web-conferencing platform can support any device then you and your people have even more freedom. Join the web-conference from your mobile or tablet by simply dialling in.
Some tips for… video conferencing
Now you’ve taken on web-conferencing keep what you’ve learned in mind, refer back to our basic tips and move forward to tips for video conferencing.
Use the video…
It might sound very, very obvious but use the video. Video conferencing offers you the ability to join via your video or to dial-in on a dedicated number or, if you want, to do both. As discussed at the UC Expo 2016 many people are reluctant to put their video on during a conference if the person who started it has not done the same. The same panel discussion also revealed that although 9% of people exercise while on a call (probably a good reason for not having the video on), 70% would rather video conference than travel to attend a meeting.
Top Tip – Remember over half of communication is non-verbal…
55% is body language and facial expression
37% is tone of voice
8% is the words that are actually being said.
Play it again…
Stop desperately trying to write down every little thing that is said in a meeting, scribbling or typing away to create a mass of incomprehensible notes. Rather, simply record the meeting and play it back at your leisure, giving you time to pause, rewind or skip forward and note down the key points that you might otherwise have missed.
Share and share alike…
Use screen sharing functions found on most webinar platforms to show other attendees exactly what you want them to see, enabling you to easily run through reports, proposals and documentation.
Some tips for… virtual events
Virtual events, a term encompassing everything from small webinars through to large webcasts. It’s time to build on all the tips covered in this blog so far and move on to virtual events.
Analytics are your friend
Analytics are useful to see who is engaged during any webinar/virtual event and these can work afterwards as well. Don’t forget that webinars can be utilised after they have happened for post-event marketing. Think of using webinars in this way the same as you would evergreen articles. What works best is going to be a matter between yourself and your target market.
Use polls to keep engagement up
In order to keep people engaged there are a number of techniques available. Consider options such as social sharing, polls, surveys, chat, online collaboration options. Polls and surveys are particularly useful if there are large numbers of people involved and visual contact is one way, not only do they make people feel involved, but they also break up the event a little and add an element of variation.
Top Tip – Join the
85% of webinars that are using Q&A tools
38% that are using social sharing
22% that are offering polls
10% that are conducting surveys
4% that are collaborating online
4% that are engaging in chat
Bring in outside help
One of the top tips for conducting a virtual event is… get outside help. Bringing in someone from outside the organisation can bring many advantages to your virtual event, such as complete technical support, custom branding, microsite creation for your event, multiple platform support and other bonus features.
But, above everything else, never, ever forget the basics
The real basics. Lighting has to be reasonable and the Internet connection reliable, so agreeing to take part in any sort of virtual collaboration whilst traveling through London when so many of those elements are beyond your control is probably not a good idea. And make sure your manner is engaging in general. Not all the technology in the world will rescue a dull chat hosted by someone who would bore people silly face to face.
- Make use of polls and other methods of audience participation in order to boost engagement.
- Always be professional, no matter where you are conducting the web conference from.
- Rehearse, rehearse and then rehearse some more.
- Never forget the basics!