Have you found yourself transferring from a conference or huddle room in your office to using remote conferencing software at home? If you are making the switch to more virtual meetings, whether that be out of necessity or to keep up with modern workplace trends and to attract more millennial employees, this guide to running a video conference room and engaging participants is a must-read for you!
WHAT IS NEEDED FOR A CONFERENCE ROOM LAYOUT?
WHAT IS REMOTE COLLABORATION?
First, let’s talk about remote video collaboration. Collaboration is the act of working as a team on a project that involves every member in the group. Historically, people would presume that the only way that teams could collaborate was by physically being in the same office together - but we know now that this is not necessarily the case.
Thanks to applications and software that have been created for remote working, it is now perfectly possible to collaborate when some, or all, of the team are not working from the office. And video collaboration is proving to be one of the best techniques to do so; with 98% of respondents from a survey reporting that video conferencing helps with building relationships in the company.
VIDEO CONFERENCING EQUIPMENT
First, you’ll need to make sure that you have the right video conferencing equipment. Because of digital transformation in recent years, there have been a lot of new inventions in this field, including:
An interactive display, which is a great interactive whiteboard alternative - having one of these wherever the chairman of the meeting is (whether that be in the office or at home) is a great idea to keep the meeting fun and engaging.
A device for all meeting attendees, such as laptops or iPads.
A webcam and microphone for all attendees.
It’s also important to have the correct software. Most virtual meetings are currently favoring Zoom, a conference call software that can be used on computers, tablets, or smartphones. With Zoom, it is possible to have meetings with hundreds of participants.
Other video conferencing software options include:
Go To Meeting which is probably the most mobile-friendly conference calling software.
CyberLink U Meeting has tiers offering different attendee numbers and duration packages.
If you’re wondering ‘what types of technology can be used to support collaboration?’, then an interactive display might be the answer. You might want to consider using one as a conference room screen, even if they are used at home or remotely by the boss or chairman of the meeting.
An interactive display is basically a large tablet that is mounted to a screen, that functions as a tablet but can be connected to different devices - ie. all of the meeting attendees' personal devices. Normally interactive displays are key features of huddle rooms or conference rooms.
However, even when conference calling, it is a great idea for the meeting chairman to have an interactive display so they can see everyone and know exactly what is going on in the meeting and make it more engaging. Interactive displays also have a whiteboard feature and web browser, making the meeting all the more bilateral.
VIDEO CONFERENCE ROOM FURNITURE AND LAYOUT
When managing virtual teams, it is also important to make sure that everyone has an appropriate ‘office’ space for the virtual meeting which is well lit and comfortable for the employee, as well as being conducive to productive work.
The conference room layout will obviously look very different from normal, and the style of meeting (and indeed, the level of formality of your company) will depend on the layout that you require from your staff members.
However, if the meeting and business aren’t completely formal, it is recommended to encourage employees to have a relaxed atmosphere and setting at home. If a formal setting is insisted upon, they might find it a bit strange and feel more on edge than if a more casual setting is allowed - for example, their conference room furniture might be a sofa rather than an office-like desk or chair. Invite them to have a cup of tea, and they will definitely be grateful!
HOW DO YOU MAKE AN ONLINE MEETING MORE ENGAGING?
There are plenty of ways to make a meeting more interesting to its attendees, so if you are worried about ‘how do you run engaging team meetings?’ do not fret!
Some of the best ways to run engaging meetings include:
HAVE SMALL TALK BEFORE THE MEETING, AND MAYBE COFFEE AND A CATCH-UP AFTER!
While you’re obviously not at work just to socialize, an element of camaraderie does wonders for having a positive workplace culture.
SET A CLEAR MEETING GOAL AND DON’T SPEND TIME TALKING ABOUT BUSINESS-RELATED UNSCHEDULED THINGS
That being said, when it is meeting time, stick to the meeting. Don’t spend time talking about unrelated topics. If there is a topic that fits in with what you are saying but needs some extra time, it’s a good idea to allocate a separate section of the meeting to it - and if it is another topic entirely then it is best to schedule a separate meeting.
It might be the case that people in your meeting don’t know each other. Virtual meetings can be a lot more awkward than meetings in person - people will be less inclined to introduce themselves but will also be focusing on everybody who shows up on the screen.
This is why introductions are of tantamount importance - spend some of the ‘social’ time at the start of the meeting making sure that everybody is acquainted - at least in the virtual world!
MAKE IT INTERACTIVE
Most people know that meetings are better when everyone is fully involved and engaged. A study by HBR says that 86% of meeting attendees say that engagement in virtual meetings is as high as traditional, in-office meetings - or even higher. This is largely due to the amazing potential for interactivity in virtual meetings.
It is widely known that interactivity has enormous benefits for businesses; marketers report that interactive content generates twice as many conversions as passive content, as well as a whole host of other impressive statistics. It is also reported by Outgrow that the most read article in the New York Times in 2013 was a quiz, and that 96% of people who start Buzzfeed quizzes finish them.
These are, of course, examples involving general public browsing, but the same ideas can be easily applied to your virtual meeting.
Why does interactive content generate so much action? Simply because it is more engaging and interesting. Which is exactly what you want to bring into your meeting.
Interactivity in virtual meetings includes things like:
Voting in polls
Using a virtual whiteboard for annotation
These help to keep the employees alert and engaged, and make them feel like they are a key part of the meeting. They can make their voice heard through polls, they can be creative through virtual whiteboards, they can challenge themselves in quizzes, and they can display their work through screen sharing.
Interactivity is the key to an engaging meeting that will refocus employees and have countless knock-on positive effects for the company, including bigger profits.
However, it must be ensured that the right equipment is used for any interactive meeting. The chairman’s device needs to be something that functions seamlessly and is easy to use, without lags which can cause problems on other devices.
Our interactive displays have lots of fantastic collaboration features that can help you have more efficient meetings. They are easy to use and are fantastic for collaboration, being able to connect to plenty of different devices.
Remote meetings are a new workplace challenge, but there are plenty of ways that you can make them more engaging - in fact, more engaging than before!
The crucial part is to play into the fantastic features that modern technology has in terms of interactivity. Utilizing features like polls, screen shares and virtual whiteboards are wonderful tools to engage participants and make them feel involved and valued; and use of these is crucial to have successful video conference calls.
Other aspects, such as having the right video conference equipment and layout, having an informal atmosphere when appropriate, and setting meeting goals, also help greatly to make video conference calls much more engaging.
With the right tools and attitude, video conference calls can easily be even more engaging than in-person meetings. Take these steps and you’ll begin having fantastic video meetings in no time!