Do you have an upcoming meeting?

Do you phone in experts to share knowledge or facilitate discussions?

Do your senior managers or board of directors expect more results from meetings?

Problem with using phone-in with group meetings

You can only hear words, not see what the guest speaker is talking about.  Examples include demonstrations of websites, calculations of spreadsheets, explaining processes.

Visual learners are impaired because they can’t see what the presenter is saying and must imagine concepts based on previous knowledge.

Interaction is limited because you cannot see body language to ensure the group fully understands key concepts.

As a result of reading this post your group will:

Make decisions faster having more details

Feel more confident in achieving expected outcomes

Avoid groupthink because every individual can ask questions and voice their own opinion.

Tips on Using Skype

There is usually one person on staff who has a Skype account and knows how to use it to communicate with another person however when setting up and executing an online group meeting, the dynamics change.  Room setup, audio quality, webcam positioning, and screen viewing are extremely important in hosting this online meeting and one by itself could disrupt or hinder the communication process between the virtual guest and the group.

1. Webcam Positioning

Test the laptop camera ahead of time to see how much area it will cover.  Chairs and tables might have to be adjusted to make sure that every person in the room can be seen.  If you don’t have a webcam for your laptop check out the ones made by Logitech.

2. Room Setup

The projection screen or TV may not be able to be moved but the chairs and tables can.  Position the tables in a V shape as close as possible surrounding the screen.  This will help everyone see each other better with a focus on the guest.

Encourage attendees to sit as close as possible to make sure everyone is included in the view of the web cam.  If the online guest cannot see every member then they won’t know who is talking when a question is being asked.

3.  Audio Quality

There are two types of audio to consider: the voice of the guest and the voices of the group members.  The best audio to hear the guest is when the room laptop is plugged into the house sound wall speakers.  When that is not an option you may want buy extra speakers that can be plugged into the laptop.  Most laptops don’t produce a high enough volume for a group which can strain members to listen to the guest.  Tweakers are the  size of a baseball (under $20) can be plugged into the headphone jack of the laptop to make the audio louder in the room.

The next audio to consider is the voices of the group members for the guest to hear.  A dedicated microphone to capturing audio from the laptop will serve you better than relying on the microphone in the webcam.  It doesn’t work well when people have to get up and walk over to the computer to speak their mind.  The Blue Microphone produces much clearer sound quality and can be moved around a room where a computer cannot.  Small groups (10 or less) will want to sit close together to avoid yelling across the room.

4.  Screen Viewing

During a Skype video call be sure to zoom the screen to full screen.  If you don’t a small video will show which is hard to see, especially if the Skype presenter is demonstrating a website.

5.  Skype chat

Skype chat allows the group host and presenter to share website links, videos, and other online resources with one another during the discussion. This instant messaging feature will save each party time trying to recite links, questions, or other comments when they are saved in the chat electronically and shared by email after the call is over.

In Summary

Is this worth all the extra effort?

I would say fanatically YES!

I’ve been on so many boring conference calls that I lose interest, multi-task, or just tune out.  If I could see whom I was listening to I feel more comfortable.  If I can see what they are talking about I’m interested more.

Ask guest speakers if they use Skype and can use it to share their expertise.  There are call recorders which can save the discussion in a video format for playback and/or upload to YouTube.  This tool is a $20 one time investment.

In my humble opinion you can’t afford to overlook this tool.

Imagine the savings on getting the speakers you want because they are easily accessible and save on travel expenses.

You create more impact in less time with the fewest amount of resources.

Not too shabby, eh?


Organizations bring in Doug Devitre when they want to dramatically improve marketing, productivity, and sales performance with the latest technology. He is changing the way consultants consult, coaches coach, and trainers train professionals with his creative approach to using technology focused on business outcomes. The University of Missouri-Columbia Business School Entrepreneur of the Year, National Association of Realtors Business Specialties Hall of Fame Educator, and Certified Speaking Professional of the National Speakers Association brings a power-packed, innovative punch to managing organizational change outlined in his latest book Screen to Screen Selling™ : How to Increase Sales, Productivity, and the Customer Experience With the Latest Technology. Now Doug is focused on creating thought leadership on how businesses can use the Amazon Alexa platform to reduce operational costs and improve workplace productivity.

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