Advancements in technology have made meetings more effective by providing ways of communicating and storing meeting information. Although many new tools are available to help give your meeting that cutting-edge-feel, there are many things to consider when determining electronic options. It is not always imperative to use new technology at your meetings, but having an understanding in advance helps to expand your choices. In this blog, you will learn about the latest meeting tools available to you, things to consider and reaching a decision.
Overview of Choices Available
Electronics in meetings brings a wealth of advantages if used properly. Technology has increased the reach of the meeting room into the virtual world. You are capable of connecting with participants anywhere in the world. Technology also expands your ability to disseminate and record information. This lesson presents an overview of the various tools you can employ in your next meeting.
Presentation software: programs like Microsoft Power Point help to organize your materials into one file. Once the information is in the presentation program, you can make handouts that you can give to your participants as an agenda.
Electronic whiteboard: an electronic whiteboard is an efficient way to write and record ideas all with one source. The electronic device acts like a normal whiteboard, but uses special electronic markers. This electronic device also records the items written on the board for referencing later.
Web meeting programs: programs similar to Microsoft Live Meeting allow you to conduct your meeting via the Internet. Voice, images from your desktop, and a web cam view of the meeting room and the individual.
Video conferencing: this dedicated line uses cameras and television screens to connect two or more remote sites into one meeting.
Telephone conferencing: this is a dedicated telephone line where many participants call in and participate in the meeting.
There a many variations of the electronic tools listed in the lesson that you can use. You can have your company purchase these programs or use a pay-as-you-go product from an online vendor. Choosing the type of electronic tool depends on the audience, distance and technological capabilities of the meeting place.
Things to Consider
The most important thing to consider when dealing with electronic meeting tools is your ability to use and troubleshoot them. Many things could affect the performance of the tools. You must be comfortable enough with the technology to deal with the unexpected. In order to avoid embarrassing issues during the meeting, you should test all systems and make sure your Information Technology (IT) department supports them. In fact, you should always run your technology plans with your IT. They may need to do some backend things to help support your video or web conferencing tool. Before you try using a new tool, get some training and practice. Understanding your electronic tool could take some reading and practice. Test the program with someone you know. Practice using the tool in smaller, more personal meetings before you decide to do it in a larger meeting with outside guests.
Avoid using technology just for the sake of using it. Use it only when it is necessary. Make sure that the participants who will need to use the tools to participate are capable of using it themselves. The last thing you want is someone telling you in the middle of the meeting that they do not know how to launch the program. Here is a quick list of things to consider if you plan to use technology:
Is the complexity of adding the technology outweighing the potential glitches?
Are you capable enough to handle any issues that may arise during your meeting?
Is your audience capable of handing the technology?
Will you have adequate support from your IT department?
Are there any costs that you have to consider?
In any case, using technology requires knowledge. If you desire to use technology in your meetings, learn the system and practice, practice, practice. Finally, do not get carried away with technology. It becomes obvious when technology is being used just to dazzle the audience. This is distracting and reduces the effectiveness of your meeting.
Making a Final Decision
This assessment allows you to determine quickly if you need to use technology or not. When making a decision determines the following:
Am I proficient with the technology?
Am I able to acquire someone who is proficient and can assist me with the technology?
Will there be people connecting to my meeting from remote locations?
Is there a large number of graphics that will be presented?
Are the participants capable of using the technology?
Does the meeting room support technology?
Do you have IT support available?
Do you have the budget to support the technology?
If you answer “no” to any of these questions, determine the risk of going ahead with the technology. If it is too risky, avoid using the technology, unless you must like in the case of remote conferencing. Just make sure you get the training you need well in advance or get someone to be there as a technical helper if technology is unavoidable.