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Virtual conferencing software is an integral part of the current global work environment. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shift towards working from home, video conferencing software for businesses has seen a 500% increase in sales. It’s more crucial now than ever before to have excellent video conference tools at your disposal.
RingCentral provides you with the best service for virtual meetings, allowing you to host the most effective online meetings that benefit everyone involved.
What is a virtual meeting?
Put, and a virtual meeting is the remote working counterpart to a conventional face-to-face meeting. These take place for a variety of purposes in a business context. For example, companies take advantage of virtual meetings to host icebreaker games to help new team members connect, as spaces for remote teams to work collaboratively, or simply as tools to check in on team members.
Virtual meeting software exists to allow users to connect instantaneously. It incorporates video applications and software and VoIP technology to enable users to see and hear one another—a particularly critical experience in a remote work environment, where meeting face-to-face is otherwise impossible.
RingCentral MVPTM is especially well-suited to a business environment, offering an entirely unified communication system. It encompasses the features of a RingCentral Phone alongside all the functionality of the most modern video conferencing solution. RingCentral Meetings’ video conferencing solution affords you access to HD video conferencing across all devices as well as cloud storage.
You can use virtual meetings for all kinds of purposes, ranging from ‘water cooler chat’ style setups to webinars and video conferences. Each of these carries unique benefits. Water cooler chats help your team grow closer, which leads to more effective teamwork. A webinar creates opportunities for employees to learn new skills that can help them work more efficiently. Lastly, video conferences act like in-person conferences, assisting teams in planning projects and discussing essential business topics.
What are the advantages and disadvantages?
However, this does not mean that video meeting technology should fall out of favour once the pandemic is behind us. Currently, many people have no choice but to use virtual meeting software. This kind of software comes with its own unique benefits and drawbacks.
To that end, it’s crucial to consider the advantages and disadvantages that virtual meeting platforms carry with them carefully. Let’s take a look at these below.
Advantages of virtual meetings
Perhaps the most immediate advantage of virtual meetings is their ability to connect employees regardless of their physical distance. This means that, unlike in phone-based meetings, video-based conference calls allow participants to see each others’ facial expressions, enabling them to engage with and understand each other more easily.
Participants can also join virtual meetings in various ways, which makes them more accessible. Whether you’re using a laptop, desktop computer, mobile devices, like an Android phone or iPhone, or even an iPad, modern virtual meeting software still allows you to join meetings.
This provides greater flexibility for team members who might have poor Internet connections or who might not have access to their usual work hardware while they’re quarantining at home.
Another advantage of virtual meetings is their cost-effectiveness. Individuals worldwide can have real-time conversations without leaving their homes, meaning that you can eliminate travel costs.
Video-based online meetings also benefit from how much more efficient and straightforward they are to manage (provided you have the right software, of course). Admins can instantly make speakers heard with the simple click of an unmute button, thereby eliminating the need to arrange to seat to give ushers easy access to speakers, as you would in a real-life event. So, you should require far fewer admins to manage meetings, replacing the expense of larger groups of dedicated helpers.
Ringcentral Rooms also includes virtual waiting rooms to help manage meetings. It enables admins to regulate the number of participants in a meeting room at any given time with ease.
It also offers enterprise-grade security, screen-sharing, and critical calendar integrations.
Opting for conference call solutions also makes scheduling meetings a convenient process. Organisers can consult each participant’s respective Google calendar to gauge availability and then send out e-vites to grant access to the meetings.
These advantages show that the future of video meetings looks bright. There are, however, still some disadvantages to explore.
Disadvantages of virtual meetings
With participants scattered all over the world, there will be various time zones to contend with. Such challenges can be mitigated with careful planning, of course, but it’s nonetheless a factor to consider.
Another potential issue lies in hardware problems. Since your team members will be working with what they have available at home, not all of them will have an excellent webcam at their disposal. Their home office situations may also be less than ideal, which means increased chances of distracting background noise.
Finally, if the employee in question has to sit very close to their camera, or if their camera is incapable of recording high definition video, it can become challenging to read their body language.
The good news is that hardware problems generally have simple workarounds. If a meeting participant is stuck in a noisy environment, for example, they can mute themselves until they need to speak – or they can make use of live team messaging to send in their comments.
Before hosting a virtual meeting
It’s essential to be entirely prepared before you host your first RingCentral virtual meeting. Having the right tips and tricks at your disposal can make any video meeting run more smoothly, even if you’ve been hosting them for years.
As you might expect, the first step is to ensure you’ve got the best meeting tool to hand. Which one you select will depend on a few factors, such as the anticipated duration of the meeting, the number of attendees you’re expecting, and the purpose of the meeting.
Once you’ve chosen your tools, you’ll want to make sure they function as they should. For example, once you’ve selected RingCentral as your meeting platform, you’ll want to make sure you log in to your RingCentral account and test out all its features. This helps you both get to know the video calling platform better and ensure that you’re well prepared for your meeting.
In terms of tools, you must also consider the specific needs of your attendees. Are many of them going to be using mobile devices to join the meeting? If so, you’ll want to make sure any software is compatible with those devices or that there’s a mobile app version they can use. Ensure that your attendees know that they can join the meeting via the RingCentral mobile app and the desktop app.
If you’re looking for a plugin available to all attendees, the RingCentral app operates across PC, Mac, Android, iOS.
You’ll want to make sure your meeting is as accessible as possible. Once you have access to the meeting ID, distribute it as early as possible so attendees can make sure their software is at full functionality and runs smoothly.
Once you’ve got all the collaboration tools sorted, the next step is to schedule the meeting. Find a date that works for all (or most) of your intended attendees, then send out invites to let everyone know which times they should set aside for the meeting.
You can schedule meetings using RingCentral’s seamless integrations with Microsoft Outlook, Gmail, and Google Calendar and its own messaging feature. Make sure you send out follow-up emails closer to the date of the online meeting as a reminder; that way, you ensure that your meeting stays fresh in your attendees’ minds, and they will be less likely to cancel.
Lastly, make sure the structure of the meeting itself is planned out well. The better your meeting plan, the more aware all your speakers will be of their role in the meeting – and the more engaged your attendees will be. An engaged audience is vital to running a successful virtual meeting.
During a virtual meeting
While a virtual meeting is in progress, everyone in attendance must adhere to the appropriate meeting etiquette for such an event. Like in-person meetings, video conferences have their own sets of rules that need to be followed for the meeting to run smoothly. That’s why you’ll want to make sure that you have at least one person in a facilitator role, making sure that anyone acting up is dealt with according to pre-approved guidelines.
While you should adjust the specific rules according to your requirements per meeting, a broad set of rules will apply to every virtual meeting. These boil down to paying attention to the meeting and respecting everyone else in attendance.
If someone is presenting using screen share, then the focus should be exclusively on this. When others are speaking, no one should be checking their texts or emails. Anyone whose mic picks up feedback should mute themselves when they’re actively talking to avoid distracting others with an echo.
The other most vital thing to do is ensure that the meeting goals are reached and all relevant topics are covered. If someone could not deliver their aims, you should address this; ideally, someone else should cover for them.
It’s also a good idea to ensure that the meeting is recorded. That way, if there are any issues with people entering the dial-in to join the meeting, it can still proceed as planned, and latecomers can catch up on what they missed afterwards. That’s why it’s crucial to choose a video call service that offers call recording functions, like RingCentral Video.
After a virtual meeting
The meeting has concluded, but that doesn’t mean that you need to stop engaging with it immediately. Instead, consider taking this time to reflect on the conference you’ve just hosted.
What went well? What could be improved? Were there any technical issues or notes to keep in mind for next time? If the meeting was intended to be interactive, did the attendees engage enough with those components? While the minutes are being finalised and sent out, these are the questions you should be asking yourself.
It’s always a great idea to get the attendees to provide you with feedback. You can do this in many ways. For example, you might consider sending out a polling link or survey that asks a few quick questions regarding the meeting, which gives attendees the chance to provide you with any feedback. You could also set up a virtual whiteboard to fill with feedback. You might send a dropbox link out for anyone to submit their thoughts in docx or pdf format.
Another excellent way to allow attendees to give their feedback on the meeting is through the RingCentral messaging system. This is included in the same desktop or mobile app that users would have operated to attend the meeting, meaning that they can leave feedback without opening any new links or exit the app.
Ready to run your own virtual meeting?
Well-run virtual meetings are the key to successful remote work. The more meetings you run, the more chances you’ll have to improve the way you run them. That’s why it’s critical to learn as much as you can about running them – and then, once you have, to get in any practice, you can.
One of the most helpful ways to improve your meeting-management style is to learn from experts. That’s why anyone planning to run a video conference should check out RingCentral’s handy guide to remote working – it’s packed full of helpful information and tips for first-timers and experienced meeting managers alike.