Whether you are a small company or a large one, thanks to the digital age, it is now inexpensive and really easy to hold a meeting online, involving people from inter-state or from around the world. The Creative Collective have always had a team which spans various states and countries including staff, trainers, franchisees and key contractors, so there can be quite a few time zones and people involved in coordinating a single meeting. For this reason, we’ve had to utilise different technologies over the years which have allowed us to collaborate and communicate virtually for our meetings.
Here’s a run down on our favourite online technologies for holding a meeting online and why:
Skype is an excellent and free technology for talking online via text chat, audio only or video call. The service is completely free, if the other person has a Skype account. If not, you can purchase credit on Skype and use it to call any number in the world.
Unfortunately however, since Microsoft purchased Skype, it has been commercialising a number of its features meaning there is now very little functions you can use past conversing with 1 other person. For instance screen sharing, and having multiple people on a call will now cost you. We’ve therefore defected in a big way to….
2. Google Hangouts
Since December 2012, we have been running our team meetings on Google Hangouts. Google Hangouts allows more people to be online at once, up to 9 people for free. In addition, we can also see each other using the video feature, share files, text chat and share screens, all of which is free provided you have a Google+ account (also free to set up).
An added benefit of using Google Hangouts for your meetings is you can easily switch to use Google Calendar, Gmail and Google Drive during a meeting, simply by clicking on the tabs along the top bar. Further, you can record your meetings on Google Hangout, and choose to upload them to Youtube and share them publically or privately, post the meeting. Perhaps a more interesting way to share ‘meeting minutes’ than the standard issue.
If you want to be really high tech, and you have participants in locations that have a strong internet connection i.e. broadband or even the NBN already, and you will predominantly be presenting information from one location i.e. head office to others i.e. your virtual team, livestreaming is another great option for holding a meeting in the digital age.
Livestreaming is effectively live coverage of a meeting, similar to TV coverage of an event. The person or people presenting stream out in real time to the other people in attendance, and the difference between this option and others above is the platform used, which would be specifically a livestreaming platform. The Creative Collective offers livestreaming services if you are interested in running a one off or regular meeting in this manner.
Another technology we have been known to use to assist companies to facilitate bigger companies are webinars. Our favourite company for this style of meeting, is GoToWebinar which has GoToMeeting (for up to 25 participants), GoToWebinar (up to 1000 participants with packages also available for up to 100 and up to 500) and GoToTraining (with packages for up to 25 + up to 200).
Prices start from $49 for the lowest package and up to $4788 a year for the larger packages, which would would suit big companies.
GoToWebinar allows polls, text chats and screen sharing. GoToWebinar is a great solution if you want more than 9 people on, and the ability to allow different people on the meeting to speak – perhaps from diferent locations. You can do this simply by handing the presenter role over to other people during the course of the meeting as different people ‘present’ or have their say.
Do you currently hold digital meetings? What systems do you use? Those listed above or others you know and love? What have you found to be the best thing about holding online meetings? What have you found to be different about online meetings versus traditional offline meetings? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.