By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail (what a classic). It’s true though, preparation and productivity go hand in hand, after all they do both begin with the letter p. The average employee wastes nearly 13 working days a year in ‘unproductive’ meetings[1]. This seems a teeny bit excessive and fundamentally avoidable. Video calls are a brilliant piece of tech when you find yourself away from the office but still need to hold productive meetings. There’s a knack to preparing for a video call, so here’s our top tips!

Optimise your objectives

A lot of unproductive meetings are a result of poor prep, they lack a purpose, so everyone uses it as an opportunity to vent and riff on various unrelated topics with an hour (more or less) of valuable time going down the drain. By setting clear objectives for yourself beforehand you are setting a promising precedent. Note to yourself what exactly you want to achieve with this meeting. Even if it does go a bit of course, you can use your objectives to steer it back (winning).

Test out the tech

Some of us are still wary when it comes to including video in their meeting. Showing your face on webcam feels very different to showing your face in real life, a potential reason for this is simply unfamiliarity. The more familiar you become with something the less you fear it. That’s why we’d recommend practising with the tech before your meeting. This will not only bolster your confidence around using the product but also make you more comfortable with your digital self. If you’re working from outside the office, make sure you choose a location with good lighting and void of any distractions. Lastly, using the product will give you some useful foresight and help you identify and resolve any tech issues that might happen.

Ace your agenda

Setting clear objectives is crucial but a bit useless if its only you who knows what they are. Let attendees know what you hope to achieve with the meeting. This will encourage everyone to bring their A game, as they know exactly how they can contribute. This point isn’t specific to meetings with video but still applies. Approach it just like you would a face-to-face meeting, they can be just as beneficial.

Video call products help with scheduling a meeting by making it easy to send out calendar invitations with all the meeting details and what you need to do to join. Use this invite as an opportunity to outline an agenda. Be sure not to overwhelm fellow attendees with too much information. Make your agenda as succinct and clear as you can, no one wants to read a mini epic before attending a meeting. An agenda that promises too much is a reliable indicator of unrealistic expectations.

Create suitable content

Part of preparing for a video call is acknowledging the limitations. Features such as screen share and present document make it easy to share content but the content you share on a screen may not be as engaging as it would be presenting face-to-face. Therefore, you need to ensure that the content you present is digitally engaging and easily digestible. People will have a shorter attention span in an online meeting, so your content should cater to this.

[1] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/how-long-spend-meetings-year-thirteen-days-uk-workers-average-a8542861.html

If you’re working outside the office, or inside the office and need to communicate with peeps outside the office (bear with us) then a conference call is a simple and reliable way to do so. The flexibility that they offer is brilliant, however there are certain locations that conference call etiquette demands you avoid. Anywhere full of distractions and noise is not only going to annoy your fellow callers, but it’s also going to prevent you from being your most productive. Here’s our list of the best locations for a call.

In the office

The most conventional option on the list, that’s right, who would have thought it? The office, more specifically a meeting room. If the name meeting room wasn’t a dead giveaway, it’s an ideal location for a conference call because it’s often a focussed environment with minimal distractions and background noise. Everyone knows why you’re in the meeting room and everyone knows it would be rude to disturb you, unless it’s an absolute emergency. Depending on the office, you might even have a spider phone (lucky you), meaning call quality will be excellent.

Your humble abode

Or not so humble, depending on your modesty levels. Your home is most likely a place you feel comfortable and secure. A comfortable and secure environment is a great location for a conference call. If you’re nice and relaxed this will hopefully transfer to how you behave on the call. Obviously, you don’t want to be uber relaxed, to the point where you’re falling asleep. We’d recommend avoiding your sofa or bed. Try to plot up at a desk (some form of table), or any place you associate with productivity, so that you can come across as professional and engaged on your call.

The great outdoors

“According to the Journal of Environmental Psychology, just twenty minutes a day outside is all you need to allow your brain to refresh, restore and start functioning again”[1], that’s right, science says the outdoors is good for brain function. If you’re working outside the office why not hop on a call outside? We understand that this is heavily reliant on phone signal, trying to take a call on the peak of a mountain might be slightly counterproductive. Although, if you find yourself outside and have got strong signal, then immerse yourself in nature whilst discussing performance KPIs. Just make sure you have something to take notes with, otherwise it’s probably just a waste of time.

A cosy café

For all those coffee connoisseurs out there. If you fancy getting out of the house and visiting your favourite café then go for it. If it’s not super busy, to the point where you can’t hear yourself think, then a café can be a great location for a conference call. Again, being in a comfortable and familiar environment can help increase your productivity and ensure your engaged on the call.

Down the pub

You ever been to a pub in the daytime on a weekday? Completely different environment, some would say surreal. Many pubs are lovely places to be, with grand furnishing, lots of space and typically have an abundance of choice when it comes to beverages. We wouldn’t suggest always going to the pub for a call, but once in a blue moon it can act as a nice treat. Maybe save this option for those late afternoon Friday calls.

So, there you go, our suggestions for the best conference call locations. Let us know in the comments your top call locations.

[1] https://medium.com/thrive-global/nature-inspires-creativity-66254fe3d537

We’ve talked about conference call etiquette an introductions play an important part. Getting the most out of your conference call is a learned skill – But one of the most important things to get right straight off is the way you say hello. Without the visual and physical cues like smiling, shaking hands or eye contact to fall back on, you’ll have to rethink the way in which you come across when introducing yourself. Follow our list of must-do’s and you won’t go wrong.

Don’t assume everyone knows you

‘Hi, I’m Jane!’ might work when you’re greeting people face-to-face, but on a conference call, it doesn’t quite work the same. It may feel awkward, but you should always fill in a few of the gaps if you’re talking to people outside your company. You should introduce yourself and your job role or relation to the topic of the call. For example, ‘Hi, I’m Jane Smith, Marketing Director at Fictional Company,’ or ‘Hi, I’m John and I’ll be leading this project.’ This way, people can put you in context of why you’re on the call.

But don’t ramble on…

On the flipside, it’s just as easy to suddenly develop verbal diarrhea when introducing yourself, along the lines of, ‘Hi, it’s Jane Smith here, Marketing Director since 2013, working across the Example and Standard accounts. I’ve helped amplify our brand strategy across the print sphere and am really looking forward to moving across into digital as we begin cultivating our new online clients into Q3…’ Droning on during your intro is a sure-fire way to give the wrong impression.

Don’t forget your colleagues

If you’re the most senior person from your company on the call – or hosting the call – then it’s good manners to introduce those you’ve brought along. Again, follow the format above in introducing your colleagues briefly and simply and most importantly, give them a chance to say hello, too. Voice recognition is hard enough on a conference call – even more so if the person speaking hasn’t had a chance to identify themselves.

Set out your agenda clearly

If the call’s been scheduled to get a particular task done, you should incorporate this into your intro to ensure things progress as you need them to. “The other people on the call should know what you want from them right away,” says The Muse. For example, ‘Hi, this is Jane Smith, Marketing Director at Fictional Company. I’m here with Marketing Assistant John Jones, and we’re looking forward to locking down the new brand strapline this morning. John, would you like to introduce yourself?”

And you’re off! So now you know how to make the best start possible to a  call, see which package is right for you.

Let’s face it, meetings can be scary, especially if you’re relying on tech to get the job done. It’s estimated that in 2020 half of the UK workforce will work remotely, so the reliance on tech to carry out work is only going to increase. That’s why it’s essential to embrace meeting solutions and face any fears they conjure up, before you know it you’ll be having productive meetings wherever whenever.

Banish conference call jitters

A conference call product is still the go to meeting solution for many UK business. It’s built on tech that people consider reliable, the telephone, so it’s often seen as the most reliable. If you’re not the most confident person on the phone then a conference call can understandably cause panic.

You’ll be happy to know we’ve got some straightforward and easy ways to improve your confidence on calls:

To learn more about how best to put these points in to practice check out a more detailed explanation here.

Embrace video in video calls

The video in a video call is an integral part of the whole experience (durr). Including video in your meeting makes it feel more personal and helps avoid any miscommunication you may experience on a phone call. So, what to do when you’re camera shy and the thought of turning your webcam on sends shivers down your spine? Bear in my mind these useful tips:

We’ve got a whole post based around each point here if that checklist has piqued your interest.

Wow with webinars

They say people fear the unknown. Many people are still not familiar with how to best use a webinar platform and are unaware of the benefits of online events. These benefits include reducing costs, interacting with your target audience, building credibility and brand recognition, generating more leads etc etc. Hosting an online event does involve a certain amount of risk (like most things) but if done properly the rewards can be huge! The four most common fears around webinars include:

Luckily all these fears can be addressed. It comes down to experimenting and practicing with the tech. This makes it easier to work out what works and what bombs, allowing you to reap the biggest rewards for your business. Unless you have a severe case of beginner’s luck, you most likely won’t pull of your most successful online event first try. So, face your webinar fears and explore all the platform has to offer.

Adopt meeting solutions for the win

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change” – Mr Einstein. Adapting to and eventually embracing meeting solutions means more success in the long run. You’ll be perfectly comfortable in a world of remote workers and stay productive no matter what.

Any form of large-scale presentation can be nerve-racking. Particularly when you’re relying on technology, which has a habit of misbehaving exactly when you don’t want it to misbehave (you want to update now, really!!?). Nevertheless, with a solid plan and the right webinar platform you can lull your nerves, face your fears and produce A1 online events every time. We’re going to look at some of the most common fears surrounding online events and the best ways to overcome them, so let’s get started.

What if no one shows up?

Presenting to an online audience can be strange but it can be even more strange presenting to a tiny audience/no one. If you do run an online event and attendance is low, then use this as an experience to learn something. Try and figure out what it was that prevented your event from gaining any traction. Was it a lack of promotion beforehand? Did you make it to arduous to join your event? There’re numerous reasons for your event not being a smash hit. The important thing is to not let it put you off ever experimenting with the platform again. Just use the experience to improve future events.

What if I turn into an absolute blabbermouth?

You may become the opposite of a blabbermouth and become a silent act. Whatever the outcome, the culprit is often poor prep. Nerves will play a role, but nerves are often heightened by poor prep. To try and avoid this scenario make sure that you rehearse beforehand. There’s no harm in doing some mock runs. Get your colleagues involved, and ask them to join your webinar. This will really help you get in the swing of things, becoming familiar with the platform and getting a sense of what it’s like to present to an online audience.

Word-to-the-wise (you guys) don’t overdo it. If you go overboard on the rehearsals, you’ll become your own worst enemy and second guess everything. Practice just enough so you’re comfortable and then try and take your mind off it. This way you’ll still have enough enthusiasm and panache when the main event arrives.

What if the tech has some sort of vendetta against me?

If you’re not a tech whiz, then forms of new tech can be scary. Even if you’re super into tech, you’ll still require some time to get familiar with the platform. Luckily a webinar platform offers a helping hand and are relatively simple to use. The answer to this fear boils down to prep as well. Get familiar with the platform by carrying out practice runs. Anticipate scenarios that could potentially come up and plan around them, this will avoid any hiccups during showtime.

Make sure you know exactly what features you want to use before hand and practice using them. The platform is full of features, but don’t rely on all of them for your event. Cherry pick the ones that will help best achieve your desired outcome, and don’t feel pressured to use them all (quality over quantity).

What if my content gets zilch engagement?

A common fear amongst content creators – what if the content I create simply doesn’t interest people? Well, if in doubt, consider that variety is the spice of life. Webinar products encourage you as a content creator to mix it up, don’t just rely on a PowerPoint to get your message across (even if you have used tones of slide animations). The platform allows you to upload videos, include polls, Q&As and surveys. There’s plenty of ways you can engage your audience. Apologies for harping on about the same point but make sure you experiment and practice before hand. Test out different forms of content and see which performs the best, this will help you gauge what content your audience will most enjoy. If your audience aren’t engaging with your content, then try and gain something valuable from this insight.

The platform is fantastic for interacting with your audience, so perhaps ask their opinion in a post-event survey to find out what they liked/disliked about the event and what sort of content they’d like to see in follow up events. Constructive criticism is exactly that, constructive.

Why was I so nervous in the first place?

Because you’re human and it’s natural. What’s important is that you use your nerves to your advantage and as less of a hindrance and more of a motivator. These tips will help you present with confidence and discover the many benefits a webinar platform can bring to your business.

Overview

According to a 2019 survey conducted by the institute of Student Employers, 47% of employers use video interviews. Welcome to the future, where the awkwardness of face-to-face job interviews is being replaced by a brave new world of video conference assessing. Just make sure to mind the hiccups these tips are designed to cure.

So, you want to do interviews for a job opening over video conference. Congrats, you’re part of an ever-growing group of business folk who realise the savings in time and money that can come from embracing technology’s greatest gift to mankind: convenience.

Problem is, these days, it’s so easy to do that you might be tempted to run toward the warm embrace of remote interviewing without considering how one might get the most out of it. That’s a recipe for falling flat on your face.

An interview is as much of an opportunity for the prospective employee to decide if they like company they’ve applied to, as it is for you to find out if they’re the right fit. Impression matter on both sides of the interview, and that’s a universal truth, not simply for video conference interviews.

Fortunately for you, we’ve sampled that recipe so you don’t have to (it tasted gross, like inefficiency and grass), and have come up with tips that’ll see you leap over any and all video conferencing hurdles.

Plan ahead 

Treat your video conference interview as you would a regular one. Just because it might feel more informal doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it the same amount of preparation. Write your questions in advance, ready yourself for anything you might be asked, and plan out all the start and finish times with some wiggle room if some sessions overrun. It’ll make it go far smoother.

All about timing

Departure Clock

As neat as they are, video interviews are still a fairly novel way of quizzing someone about a job opening. So while your vacancy’s suitor might be used to the etiquette around time when it comes to in-person interviews (i.e. get there on time, if not early), they might need more cues when you go all future-style on them and do it over video.

Remind them close to the date what the time of the interview is and what they’ll need to do to join the conference, and make sure they’re aware of the software they’ll need.

And in case things go askew, give them a way to contact you so they can let you know and you can both fix things, or maybe reschedule if needs be.

Environmental awareness

Video calls work best when all participants can see each other. It’s a shocker, we know. So think about things like lighting and background noise before you get things underway.

Make sure not to sit with your back to a bright light source like a window or a lamp – you’ll just look like a dark, characterless silhouette. Either have it facing you or illuminating you from the side. That way you can be both seen and heard.

If you can’t conduct your remote chat in a quiet meeting room, make friends with the mute button. Using it when you’re not talking will stop all buzz of the office outside distracting your interviewee.

Stay connected

Internet connections: you don’t think about them until something goes wrong. The key here is to do all you can to ensure something doesn’t go wrong when you’re kicking your remote interview game into gear.
That means not putting a strain on your connection while you’re on the call so you’ve got enough bandwidth to send and receive a silky smooth video feed – consider closing your Outlook when they’ve arrived on the call, and close any unnecessary tabs.

And that’s it. You’re now a certified master video conference interviewer. Remember to always use your powers for good, never for evil. Nothing worse than that.

Overview

Conference calling enables users to dial into a meeting from anywhere, making it ideal for businesses with remote workers, global offices or clients that work in other locations. Holding a meeting via a call is very effective in certain situations, however there may be occasions where that little bit extra is required. Here are 3 effective tools to help improve your conference calls.

  1. Screen share

Screen sharing adds a visual element to your meeting and helps the speaker to illustrate their points. When you are presenting to a large group, pitching a concept, or explaining a new process, screen sharing can keep everyone on the same page (literally). Particularly for teams that work flexibly, or work from different locations, it is a great way for users to work together on projects regardless of where they’re working from.

With PowWowNow, screen sharing is a feature included in our video call service.

  1. Video

In certain occasions, it can be hard to distinguish how the person at the other end of your conference call is feeling about the conversation. Expressions and body language are important communication tools that shouldn’t be dismissed. Therefore, adding video to your calls can be a perfect way to read people better and improve understanding with the person on the other end of the phone. A staggering 80% of business professionals rely on video for one to one meetings. and 77% for team meetings or large groups. 

Whether conducting an interview or having an important meeting with a potential client, this extra feature can add another layer to your meeting, and bring some of the visual cues that you get from everyone being in the same room.

  1. In-meeting chat

In-meeting chat is a way to improve your conference calls. On a call people can communicate via audio with however many people they need to, all at the same time. However, there are some circumstances where an extra layer of communication is needed. For example, if your participants are having trouble joining the meeting or someone wants to ask a question without interrupting the flow of the person speaking. At these times in-meeting chat can be useful to make yourself heard.

These are just a few of the features available with our video call product, all of which aim to improve communication during your call and to make the conversation as similar as possible to how it would be in person.

Hate travelling across town for just one meeting? A lot of the time, so do we. That’s why video conferencing is a simple and easy solution to avoid those long commutes. Here are some of the advantages of video conferencing:

More flexibility

No matter how much notice you give for a meeting, it’s inevitable that there will be times where last minute issues arise and certain participants can’t attend. The advantage of video calls is that meetings can still run as planned – despite unforeseen journey delays or high priority tasks that stop people from attending.

Perfect for Remote Working

With video, remote working becomes an effective and realistic option. More than two-thirds of people around the world work remotely at least once a week already, this could be a real game changer for employers and employees alike. Impromptu meetings can be set up and held immediately, where people can come together to discuss ideas and work through documents together.

No time constraint

Hate being late because someone’s still in the meeting room you booked? Or worse, you get kicked out of your room? It’s a common issue faced by businesses that have many meetings but limited rooms to facilitate this.  Having your own dedicated online room, video conferencing enables you to control who and when you meet.

Cost saving

Similar to conference calling, video conferencing eliminates expenses for travel costs like airfares, train tickets, staff meals and hotel bills. And by saving on travel time and costs, you gain more time to be productive!

Want to learn about our video conferencing solution? You can share your screen, share files, instant message, record and of course use your webcam.

Discover our video conferencing tool now.

Being able to escape the 9-to-5, a culture of presenteeism and stifling office hierarchies is a dream many people crave – and the facts back it up. Our 2019 flexible working survey found that 81% of people said flexible working would make a job more attractive to them. But when it comes to asking your employer for changes in your work hours, or branching out on your own, it helps to understand the new terminology. Here’s what the new work language means.

So what does flexible working actually mean?

Think of this as the umbrella term for all the different types of work options now available to us. Flexible working simply means working outside of a normal working pattern. It’s a way to work that suits your needs. If you’re in an office, flexible working could mean compressed hours (where you fit a week’s worth of hours into fewer, longer days), flexitime (where you work a set amount of ‘core hours’ and are flexible with the hours you work before and after these set hours) or annualised hours (where your number of hours for the year are set and when you choose to work – is up to you).

Is flexible working the same as remote working?

Sort of. Remote working is a type of flexible working, which means you aren’t commuting in to an office every day, and can also be referred to as ‘working from home’. Remote working means working from anywhere. In fact, some remote workers don’t even ‘meet’ their employers at all, instead, connecting with them digitally and from anywhere around the world. But for most of us, remote working ends up being based from our kitchen table or local café.

Do I have to be freelance to work remotely?

Not at all. Although remote working is hugely popular with freelancers, small business owners and start-ups, there are big changes happening in organisations, too. A report by Buffer found that 91% of respondents who are business owners said they intend to support remote working.

So am I able to ask my boss to work flexibly?

In the UK, you have the right by law to ask your employer to work flexibly. There’s a good guide to the process at Gov.uk – although your employer can turn this request down. Then it’s up to you how you proceed. The old-fashioned negative views of flexible working are dying out and more companies are recognising the great opportunities flexible working options offer them and their staff.

All in all, the rise of flexible working shows that being ‘at work’ used to be a place you went to – now it’s more a state of mind.

On our blog we’ve talked about the benefits of webinars, one benefit we haven’t discussed in detail is how great the tool is for generating leads. Well, anticipate no longer because that’s exactly what this post is going to be about. One of the biggest challenges faced by SMEs is simply finding customers. You might not have the brand recognition needed to get customers flocking to you, so must be more proactive when generating leads. Online events act as an inexpensive tool to help showcase your brand and ultimately gain insightful customer data that can be converted into valuable leads. Here’s how.

1. Build brand awareness

No one is going to buy from your company if they’re unaware you exist (mind blowing, we know). If you’re a company that churns out quality content, has valuable insights and needs a platform to reach a wider audience, then webinars are an option. Consistently holding online events that provide value to your audience, even if numbers do start out small helps build trust in your brand. Your audience are aware they’re getting all this wicked content for free, without having promotions shoved in their face 24/7.

‘Once a consumer bonds to your brand, they’re more likely to make repeat purchases with little to no forethought –– which then bridges the gap between trust and loyalty’[1].

 2. Customise customer registration

Custom registration you say, that’s right! Webinars allow you to customise the data you receive from your audience members, generating leads of only the highest calibre. Depending on whether you want the broadest audience possible or the most targeted, this is where a customisable registration process plays into your favour. Depending on the data you receive you can work out strategies on how to best chase and qualify your most valuable leads.

Be wary of how much information you are asking for and the quality of your content. If you’re asking them to provide their whole life story (not literally) then you want to ensure your content justifies this. If your audience have a genuine interest in what your event has to offer, then they’re likely to provide any information you ask for (within reason).

3. Interact with your audience

Something jolly good about webinars is they’re packed full of features that enable you to interact with your audience. With surveys, Q&As and polls you can get instant feedback and learn how to improve your online event, in turn generating leads.

Encouraging active participation from your audience lets them know they’ve got a voice and don’t just represent another money-making opportunity. If you curate your topics so that each event addresses a problem your target audience faces, then you’re onto a winner! Your audience will be more willing to engage with your event and value your company’s opinion.

4. Follow up, follow up

Imagine the scenario, your company has just held a showstopper of a webinar. The content was fantastic, and a large audience tuned in. You pat yourself and others on the back for a job well done. But then you forget all about it and don’t follow up. All that hard work for nothing. Webinar platforms will allow you to send follow up emails to people who attended. This is another chance to get feedback and reaffirm any leads. This is a vital step in the process of generating leads and shouldn’t be ignored!

Ensure that you include a call to action with your email, this will help you weed out your audience based on who is worth targeting. If they unsubscribe, you start to develop a better understanding of who’s worth catering to in the future.

Leads for days

If properly utilised an online event can be fantastic for generating leads to maintain and grow your customer base. If you provide value to your audience, they are inclined to return the favour. Hope we’ve provided some value and helped you better understand one of the many benefits that comes with large scale online events.

[1] https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/brand-awareness