How Employers Can Benefit From Hosting Virtual Meetings For Their Employees

Technology has done many great things for the world. One of the main things that technology has done, is it has allowed business owners to establish a global presence. If it were not for the advent of the internet, virtual meetings would be a consideration that could never be embraced as reality.

There are many advantages that virtual meetings yield. In fact, the list of advantages to these types of meetings outweighs the disadvantages of engaging in one. The advantages of virtual meetings are:

  • Reduced costs
  • Reduced schedule interruptions
  • Increased Participant Involvement
  • Increased Productivity

Reduced Costs

By reducing the requirement that all entities have to physically be present in one room, in order for the meeting to be conducted, business owners are able to eliminate costs of hosting their meeting. Virtual meetings will eliminate the cost of travel, having to rent out a meeting hall, as well as eliminate the need for other logistical details.

Reduced Schedule Interruptions

As a business owner, it is important that you are able to complete any assigned tasks, and the same goes for your employees. Through virtual meetings, you reduce the chances of cutting into your or your employees schedules, ensuring that everyone is still able to perform whatever work related tasks they are assigned to. Participants will be able to join the virtual meeting from their office or from their homes, without their attendance at the meeting having a disruptive impact on their personal priorities or their work related priorities.

Increased Participant Involvement

With virtual meetings, you will not have to worry about any distractions. All of the attendees will be meeting with you from various locations. This eliminates the impact that others can have on their thinking processes. Therefore, all of their concentration will be centered on what you have to discuss. The virtual meeting will force the attendees to show their personal initiatives, and enable them to let their creativity be seen.

The physical distance between attendees will also eliminate emotional discussions. This will keep the attendees fixated on what you have gathered them together to discuss. Outside talks and chats will be at a minimum.

Increased Productivity

Getting a large group of people together to gather in a specific spot, takes a lot of time away from the work that the individuals could be carrying out, if they were not being shuffled into a meeting. Anytime that your employees are taken away from their jobs, their productivity decreases. With virtual meetings, your employees will be able to attend the assigned meeting, without having to shuffle to and from a specific location in between the ordeal.

This will increase the productivity of your team, while still allowing you to meet with your employees in an organized fashion. Once the meeting is complete, your employees will be able to return to whatever tasks that they were doing, without slowing down productivity.

Virtual meetings yield a variety of benefits for employers and employees alike. These meetings are becoming more and more common today, due to the benefits that they yield. Virtual meetings are just as effective, if not more effective than a face to face rendezvous.

What Are Virtual Meetings

What Are Virtual Meetings?

You decide that it is imperative that you hold a meeting. Some of the people that you want to invite to the meeting are not located in close proximity to the meeting location area. All of the individuals that you wish to invite to the meeting, are eager to go to it. However, there are several constraints that your attendees are facing when it comes to traveling to the location to meet for the face-to-face gathering, therefore, you decide to arrange a virtual meeting instead.

A software solution (this one by INXPO) for a virtual meeting, will allow you to hold your required meeting through the internet, without having to travel to a defined location. Individuals that decide to attend your meeting will be able to see and hear each other, in the same way that they would if they were meeting at a physical location. The only difference is no one has to leave their locale in order to be included in the gathering.

The Basics of A Virtual Meeting

When holding a virtual meeting, the same criterion will still apply as it does with a traditional physical meeting. There are a few things that the organizer will need to do when choosing to hold the meeting:

  • Establish the purpose of the meeting
  • Share Information
  • Generate Ideas
  • Evaluate Options
  • Make decisions

The goal of having a meeting does not change when you choose to meet virtually. The only thing that changes in this regard is going to be the medium that you decide to hold your meeting in. You will still be required to develop an agenda for the meeting that you are hosting. Once the agenda has been developed, then you will need to elaborate on the subject, and get your participants involved in what is being said or done about the subject the meeting is designed to address.

Additional Factors For Virtual Meetings

Virtual meetings add a few additional factors in comparison to traditional meetings, because not everyone that is attending the meeting will be gathered together in the same room. The additional factors that need to be addressed when holding a virtual meeting include:

  • Preparation
  • Communication

Preparation

You will not be able to hand out materials to every attendee at your virtual meeting, as you would to people that are physically attending a traditional meeting. Due to this fact, you will need to be able to plan how your attendees are going to be provided with the documentation that they need to be able to follow along in the meeting with you. Make sure that all needed materials that are required for the meeting are readily accessible. You can choose to display the materials by document sharing, or by creating a PowerPoint presentation.

Communication

The other factor that is equally important as preparation is to your virtual meeting is communication. One of the biggest concerns of virtual meetings is that organizers lose the ability to be able to decipher non-verbal forms of communication. Even if you are able to see participants on videos or through your PC screen, it is difficult to be able to decipher their body language, and how they are reacting to the information that is being presented to them. It is important to discuss what is expected at the virtual meeting when it starts. This way, everyone has an idea of what they need to do in order to make the meeting as successful as you desire it to be.

Best Practices of Virtual Meetings

What Are The Best Practices To Make The Most Out Of A Virtual Meeting?

Let’s face it, no organizer likes the task of scheduling a meeting. These days, people have over-filled schedules that barely allow them to make room to go to a physical traditional meeting at an assigned location. Holding virtual meetings seems to be the best solution to this problem. Unfortunately, even though virtual meetings are becoming increasingly prevalent, there are a lot of people that have not been trained properly on what it takes to host one of these gatherings.

There are seven practices, based on an extensive amount of research that can increase the effectiveness of conducting a virtual meeting. Following these practices will ensure that your meeting is successful, neglecting to follow these practices can cause your meeting to go the adverse way.

The seven best practices to conducting a successful virtual meeting are:

  • Get Organized
  • Assign roles to attendees
  • Use the attendees names
  • Silence  does not qualify as consent
  • Visual cues are helpful
  • Eliminate background noise
  • Provide training and preparation on the use of virtual meeting technologies

Get Organized

Virtual meetings are not the types of gatherings that can be conducted without notice. Virtual meetings will require careful planning. Individuals that utilize virtual meetings will agree that in order to get the most out of a virtual meeting, the organizer must have all of the materials that they are going to review over throughout the gathering organized.

Getting organized is going to involve:

  • Making an explicit pre-meeting plan
  • Sending out documents to attendees prior to the meeting
  • Ensuring that every attendee knows the direction the meeting is going to take
  • Have a plan, if things go wrong

Assign Roles To Attendees

A great way to keep all parties engaged in the meeting is to assign each participant a role that they will be required to engage in while the meeting is taking place. There are a lot of teams that will find that rotating the roles throughout the meeting will make it more interactive. Some of the roles that an organizer can assign to their attendees include:

  • Leader- The leader will be the individual who is responsible for setting up the meeting.
  • Scribe- Scribes will keep notes during the meeting. This information can then be dispersed to everyone who attended the meeting, for future reference.
  • Gatekeeper- The gatekeeper is responsible for watching the participation of individuals within the meeting.
  • Participant

Use The Attendees Names

When in a virtual meeting, it can be difficult to determine who is speaking. This can result in confusion for the entire group. It is important that everyone who is speaking in the virtual meeting, introduces themselves, prior to answering or asking a question. This makes it easier for the scribe and gatekeeper to keep up with the level of participation within the meeting.

 

Silence Does Not Qualify As Consent

The leader will be able to check with each participant who has attended the meeting when decisions are being made. This way they can ensure that everyone within the meeting is in agreement concerning a specific decision. Make sure that every party within the meeting is given the ability to voice their opinions, before the next topic is discussed.

 

Visual Cues Are Helpful

Explaining a concept to a large group of virtual attendees can be difficult. However, be introducing visual cues to clarify the concept that you are explaining, you will be able to capture the attention of your audience, keeping them engaged in the information that is being presented. It is important for organizers to remember that not every person is able to learn through audio cues, some individuals are better visual learners, so having visuals available will grasp the attention of these individuals.

 

Eliminate Background Noise

It is extremely difficult to incorporate new age technology into meetings, without having to worry about dealing with other distractions. Background noise can force people to get lost, and not be able to keep up with the information that is being presented to them in the meeting. Muting participants while the leader is speaking, and having individuals chat responses or use certain cues to speak is a great way to eliminate unwanted background noise.

 

Provide Training And Preparation On The Use Of Virtual Meeting Technologies

Virtual meetings will require participants to be familiar with the technologies that will be employed during the meeting. It is important that the leader does not assume that everyone who is involved in the meeting understands how to use the technologies of the platform that they are on. Carefully informing every one of how the virtual meeting technologies work prior to conducting the meeting, will ensure that the virtual meeting is enjoyable for all parties involved.

Benefits of Virtual Meetings

What Are The Benefits Of Having A Virtual Meeting?

In modern day society, meetings no longer have to be confined to four walls. They no longer have to force people to stay within expensive hotels, pay for airfare, or be away from their family for elongated frames of time. Technological advances have fueled the growth of virtual meetings. These types of meetings give individuals the ability to be involved in organized gatherings, without having to leave their present locale.

Holding virtual meetings will allow organizations to:

  • Reduce travel costs
  • Communicate efficiently with employees and clients
  • Manage productivity
  • Complete projects efficiently
  • Lower preparation costs for organizational gatherings
  • Allow for engaging meetings

Not only are the organizers of meetings reaping the benefits of virtual meetings, but the attendees also reap the benefits as well. Virtual meetings have become a benefit for all parties involved.

 

Reduction In Travel Costs

With the escalating costs for airfare, meals, vehicle rentals, and hotels, choosing to hold a company meeting can be an expensive feat. Choosing to meet virtually will eliminate all of these costs. Organizers will not have to worry about sending out expensive invitations, or having to pay additional money out of their companies overhead to get leading company influencers to the meetings. Employees will not have to worry about the expenses that they will incur due to their traveling either.

 

Communicate Effectively With Employees And Clients

Traditional meetings are full of distractions. People will be speaking with one another, and carrying on about the business and their daily lives. These types of distractions can force people to ignore the organizer that is presenting useful information that they will be required to know. By holding a meeting virtually, everyone will be able to ask and answer questions as they are guided to by the presenter. There will not be any unneeded chatter going on that distracts individuals from the goal of the meeting.

 

Manage Productivity

When lead company influencers are being asked to be pulled from their daily tasks to attend a company meeting, the productivity of the company that they work for will decline. They will not be available to tend to their working duties, because they will be attending the meeting that they are required to go to. With virtual meetings, no one will be forced to neglect their obligations to the company.

Complete Projects Efficiently

By meeting virtually, everyone will be able to attend the assigned meeting. This will help to ensure that all employees and clients are on the same path when it comes to the life of the business.

 

Lower Preparation Costs For Organizational Gatherings

During an organizational meeting, the organizer is required to pay for a venue, and bring different materials for the attendees to review. The costs for getting an organizational gathering together can be staggering. This is one of the main reasons why a lot of organizations choose to hold their gatherings as scarcely as possible. With virtual meetings, the cost to get everyone together is cut back by seventy five percent in most cases.

 

Allow For Engaging Meetings

How can a virtual meeting be engaging? Virtual meetings can be extremely engaging, because there are no distractions. Attendees of the meeting will be able to get answers to their questions, without having to worry about someone else talking over them.

Virtual Meetings in the Workplace

How Are Virtual Meetings Used In The Workplace Today?

Work has been given a new paradigm to consider. Employees are now being given the ability to work anytime, anywhere, in both real space or within cyberspace. For a large quantity of employers, the virtual workplace, a place where employees are able to work remotely, away from managers and each other, has become an overwhelming reality. Indications are being made that virtual workplaces are going to become more prevalent in the near future.

Virtual environments showcase a drastic change in the way that the modern day adult works. It presents opportunities and challenges for many professions across the globe. One of the most prevalent challenges that virtual work arrangements present is the separation of workers from their managers. Many managers are having to question how they can manage a team of employees that they cannot physically see.

Technology: The Virtual Employee Enabler

Where the modern day adult works, and when they work, is being revolutionized by the internet. Communication with others is being done through means of electronics, email, voicemails, laptops, and cellular phones, are providing ways for employees to keep in touch with their employers. The problem is, work is not only becoming a seamless task, where directions can be given through many mediums, and it is also becoming an endless task that takes up an entire twenty four hour period. In order for a virtual office environment to be viable it must:

  • Provide materials that can be either printed or downloaded
  • Have databases that are accessible to customer from remote locations
  • Contain well-indexed files that are easily accessible from remote locales
  • Track the locations of virtual workers efficiently

Virtual Meetings Connect Remote Employees

The global economy has forced many large corporations to take a virtual approach. Virtual meetings are used in many different ways within the present workplace. They can be beneficial to employees that still work within the typical brick and mortar office buildings, as well as to employees that have the luxury of being able to telecommute.

Virtual meetings are used to:

  • Connect employers and employees who are in different locales together
  • Announce new product enhancements
  • Introduce new employees to the present business they will be working in
  • Market to potential clients

Connect Employers and Employees Who Are In Different Locales Together

In the past, the only way to obtain employment at a specific organization, was to work within the hiring organization. Now, due to the impact that technology has had on the world, this is no longer a factor. Virtual meetings are held to allow employers and employees the ability to still interact amongst each other, without having destination limitations.

Announce New Product Enhancements

Larger businesses that have offices that span throughout the United States and other countries, have a difficult time keeping all of their offices on the same key when it comes to new product enhancements. To create a sense of union amongst offices, organizations may choose to host virtual meetings. This way, they only need to give directions once about a particular new feature, as opposed to having to describe the new addition over and over again.

Introduce New Employees To The Present Business They Will Be Working In

Most workers have never sat down and spoke with the CEO of the company that they work for. The reason is because most chief operating officers do not work in the same buildings as their employees. With virtual meetings, employees are able to obtain a personal welcome to the company from the lead individual who is in charge of the operation. This is not something that was able to happen every day, prior to the launch of virtual meetings.

Market To Potential Clients

Businesses need to be able to spread their brands influence, in order to have a prosperous business. In some cases, the audience that a business is trying to attract may not be located nearby. Virtual meetings give organizations the ability to attract their target audiences to their brand, regardless of where their location is.

What Are Virtual Events?

What Are Virtual Events?

A virtual event is a type of gathering that occurs over the internet. The individuals participating in the event are joining the event from different locales, but are all connected through the World Wide Web. Virtual events are normally extremely interactive, and may look and feel a lot like being in a physical environment, as opposed to a virtual one.

Some of the most popular reasons why a virtual event may be used include:

  • Virtual tradeshows
  • Virtual job fairs
  • Virtual sales meetings
  • Virtual conferences
  • Virtual company conferences

How Virtual Events Work

During a virtual event, participants will utilize an internet-based software program to connect themselves to the meeting. They can connect to the meeting in two different ways, either through a one way presentation platform, or through a two way interactive platform. The event can be something that an individual is instructed to sit and watch, or actively participate in.

When participating in a virtual event, information can be exchanged between participating parties. Content can be delivered to participants that are involved in the event in many different fashions:

  • Web streaming- this form of content exchange, allows participants to see other individuals that are also participating in the same event, and to be able to physically see the presenter.
  • Chat rooms- Participants can converse with the presenter and other participants
  • Video conferencing- with this type of conferencing, only the presenter will be seen and shown to the participants.
  • Cloud-based collaboration- information can be shared through the cloud to all participants.

The Advantages of Virtual Events

By utilizing virtual events to meet with people all around the world, a lot of the physical barriers that used to limit people from being able to attend important meetings has been eliminated. A traditional meeting, would involve the presenter to invest a significant amount of money and resources, to cover all of the monetary expenses associated with large gatherings. Even with investing large sums of money into the event, the physical event was always limited by two primary things, the size of the venue that was allocated, and the budget for the project.

With virtual events, these limits cease to exist. By utilizing internet based technology, virtual events can be performed in real time, where all participants are allowed to simultaneously participate in the event. These features given virtual events a lot of the same excitement and interaction that a physical event possesses.

The only limits that exist with virtual events are the capacities of the servers that are being employed for the gathering, and the software that is being used. It is imperative that the software that is being employed has the ability to handle the amount of people that will be logged into the meeting at the same time.

There are a lot of industries that are beginning to rely on virtual events. Some of the industries that utilize virtual events are:

  • Fashion industry
  • Music industry
  • Television producing industry
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Business industry

The business industry tends to use virtual events a lot more than the other industries named. Even though any industry can enjoy the benefits of utilizing a virtual event, the business industry has taken this concept and applied it to modern day practices, a lot more than any other opposing industries.

Virtual Events Solution Providers

What Are Some of The Biggest Solution/Software Providers of Virtual Events Technology?

Businesses that have offices or clients residing in different areas around the world, realize how critical it is to stay connected with the influential entities within their organizations. One of the best ways to stay connected with employees and clients is by using virtual events technology. Virtual events technology will help businesses to be able to:

  • Present high-quality sales presentations
  • Perform product demonstrations for prospective clients
  • Interact with remote employees
  • Train new employees

Virtual events can be done in real-time, where they are presented to a group of attendees that have been invited to join the conference. The virtual events can also be recorded, archived, and available for future viewing by other interested parties. It is important that the virtual event services that you decide to utilize are going to provide you with the proper tools that you need to complete the assigned task that you have set out to complete.

There are many different types of virtual event technologies available, which can make the task of picking a platform to host your meeting on a daunting task. Three of the top virtual event solutions are:

  • INXPO
  • Adobe Connect
  • Cisco WebEX

 

INXPO

INXPO is consistently being ranked as one of the best services available. The meeting software is being said to be the best virtual events service for various reasons. However, the top two reasons that it has gained this title is due to its simple interface and the extensive amount of conferencing tools that it possesses. There are no downloads that have to be performed in order to utilize the online software program either, making it seamless for business owners to hold a meeting with this solution.

Features:

  • Chat window-offered for hosts and participants, along with the ability to hold private one-on-one chats.
  • Transfer files
  • Note board and whiteboard provided
  • Social media support
  • 24/7 technical support

 

Adobe Connect

Adobe Connect has made quite a name for itself. It continues to be named the best webinar software around, with each new update adding to the benefits of the program. The Adobe Connect program offers many alluring features. It allows for video sharing amongst participants and course material setup. With more options to choose from, Adobe Connect has become a great platform for businesses and private individuals to use.

Features:

  • Set-up wizards- Used to guide users through setting up the meeting software
  • Servicelets- Allows for transferring multiple files at one time, private chats, and conduct live polls.
  • Live polls
  • Feedback option
  • Ability to record, edit, and download presentation

 

Cisco WebEx

The Cisco WebEx platform, offers various tools and products that can be used to conduct presentations or for business trainings. The platform is relatively easy to use, with no additional software for participants to have to download to join the meetings. The WebEx platform does a great job at allowing participants to actively interact amongst one another, but still giving the host the ability to control the entire meeting with a push of a button.

Features:

  • One-click meeting options
  • Schedule meetings for advance times
  • Send out invitations via email, text and phone
  • Host can specify a password for the meeting
  • Ability to share desktops

Using Virtual Events to Effectively Communicate With Employees

How Can A Virtual Event Be Used For A Business To Effectively Communicate With Their Employees?

Virtual environments have become increasingly popular amongst organizations for many different reasons. Virtual environments allow organizations to connect with remote employees and individuals, reduce costs, and improve the stability of their organization. Market Research Media Limited, has proposed the influence that virtual events will have on organizations worldwide. According to this marketing firm, virtual events will experience an annual growth rate of fifty six percent by the year 2015. In the same regards, technology researchers are predicting that nearly seventy five percent of the workforce in the United States will engage in some type of mobile aspect regarding their employment by the end of 2013.

Benefits of Employing Virtual Solutions

As virtual workplace operations continue to expand exponentially, organizations are being given the ability to take advantage of this unparalleled opportunity. Organizations are able to utilize virtual events to expand their reach of their brand, and leverage virtual communications to maximize the impacts that their brand has on the world.

Forbes conducted a poll in 2009 of more than seven hundred fifty business executives, regarding the expansion of virtual environments. The business executives revealed many different reasons why they prefer a virtual environment and technology based meetings in opposition to traditional face to face physical meetings. Some of the reasons given by the executives included:

  • Decreased costs
  • Decreased time
  • Additional flexibility
  • Ability to multitask
  • Increase productivity
  • Less peer pressure

Despite the advantages of virtual events and meetings, there is one thing that virtual events lack. They do not allow physical interaction with employees. What is being known as the engagement challenge is something that business executives are having to deal with now, due to virtual environments that they never had to tackle before.

What Is The Engagement Challenge?

With the increase in virtual environments, business owners are facing a brand new challenge. This challenge involves keeping their employees engaged and connected to the organization that they work for. Employees that are employed in a virtual environment, will experience a loss of community, belongingness amongst fellow employees, and human connectivity. Research regarding productive business practices has found that employees that feel a sense of community, will in turn, enhance their productivity within an organization which in turn will increase the profits for the organization. This helps to lead to increased employee loyalty, and a lower turnover rate within the organization.  The question that remains in this scenario, is how employers can replicate making employees feel connected in a virtual world?

  • Management must figure out a way to prioritize their virtual employees. They must be willing to provide support, enabling the virtual employee to overcome challenges they may experience in their workday. They must be able to perform all of these tasks, while keeping the employee connected to the organization.
  • Technologies must be set in place that serve the interest of employees. These technologies will need to provide mechanisms in which the employee can connect interpersonally with the individuals that they work with, regardless of the distance between them.
  • Face-to-face contact with virtual employees is necessary. Even if this connection is through a web-cam.
  • Smaller corporations struggle with engaging employees more than larger companies do. Larger organizations have formal processes that they utilize to actively engage and motivate their employees. They utilize sophisticated platforms, a formal training process, and offer locations that virtual employees can go to in order to engage with other virtual employees.

The success of a virtual environment is going to depend greatly on the management that is put into place to handle the virtual employees. Managers that actively engage with their virtual employees and treat them as though they are part of the team, through different forms of electronic contact have the most success with keeping a productive group of employees happy. If the manager that the virtual employee is working with, neglects to connect with their employees, turnover rates will be extremely high in this department.

How Are Virtual Events Are Helpful to Businesses

How Are Virtual Events Helpful To A Corporation/Large Business?

Virtual events are increasingly becoming a relevant practice for business owners to participate in, during these troubled economic times. However, despite the influx of virtual events being held, there are still a lot of event practitioners that do not have a full understanding of what a virtual event is, and the ways that hosting these types of events can benefit their organization.

Virtual events have the ability to:

  • Create new lucrative opportunities
  • Increase content delivery options
  • Drive marketing
  • Extend sponsorships
  • Exceed customer expectations

Virtual events can be conducted as standalone presentations, or they can be performed in a hybrid style. Hybrid style virtual events, allow attendees to attend two different types of events. They will be asked to attend a virtual event, to be given an overview of what the physical event will cover, and then be invited to attend a physical event that will provide closure to the virtual event attended.

Virtual events help in many ways by allowing organizers the chance to:

 

Increase Revenue While Cutting Costs

By allowing more choices in regards to the way that content is delivered, organizers will be able to create additional revenue opportunities. Attendees that are unable to attend physical events due to scheduling restraints or budgetary issues will have another option to be able to attend the event. Online attendees will be able to peruse through the content, picking out pieces of the presentation that they feel are relevant.

 

Extend Their Brand

A lot of large corporations, are only allotted one time per year where they can meet with major influencers within their organizations. Consider what your audience is doing during the other fifty one weeks of the year that could be contributing to the success of your organization. Your audience is not waiting around anxiously to get the information they require. Instead, they are browsing through other options that are available. By having virtual events, organizers will be able to give their attendees the ability to maintain up to date information regarding their corporation.

 

Broaden Their Community

With the recent expansion of social media websites, it has become clear how imperative it is for people to meet like-minded individuals both on the corporate and the individual forefronts of their lives. Virtual events can be designed to integrate some of the networking applications that are avidly used on the internet today, providing attendees with a richer internet experience. At physical events, it can be difficult for attendees to speak with everyone in attendance. However, online communities provide a great medium for individuals to discuss like-minded issues. This gives your attendees the ability to share in the advantages that you are experiencing, by giving them the opportunity to network with others, building business relationships of their own.

 

Enhance Tracking of Attendees

Data that is collected by utilizing virtual events, is more complete than with face-to-face gatherings. When a physical event is being conducted, attendees are able to wander around the show floors, grab a few pieces of material, and leave as though they never attended the event to begin with. However, this is not the case when it comes to online meetings. Anyone that enters your virtual event will be captured. This way, you can keep a log of how many people attend the event, and who actually showed up to it.

 

Provide Rapid Responses

By organizing a virtual event, you will be able to disperse information to your audience about different things that are happening within your organization. These events give organizers the ability to:

  • Release information regarding product launches
  • Give rules about sales strategy changes
  • Inform of crisis communications
  • Get ahead of their competition
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