Virtual Workshops Part 2

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We’ve learned several things about making virtual workshops work as well as possible. I wanted to share a few lessons learned from them. As I mentioned in my previous blog, we used Webex, but these tips should work with any of its competitors.

#1. Get cameras and use them: For any call longer than an hour, cameras make a huge difference. Seeing who you are talking to adds fidelity to the conversation–body language, distractions, etc. Before kicking of these workshops, we sent the participants a planning email to let them know that we expected them to be on camera. Not all did, but for those that did use their cameras, there was a noticeable increase in the quality of the conversation and the results. In the future, I think I would make cameras mandatory.

#2. Use multiple screens: If you’ve used Webex or some of its peers in the past, you’ve probably heard someone say something like this: “Can you transfer control to me? Let me see, Can you see my screen yet? No? Well let me try this. How about now? No? It sure is running slow today.” These tools don’t make it easy to see what the other participants on the call are seeing. To solve this problem, we ended up having the workshop leader join Webex twice: once as a leader and once as a participant (on two different computers). This allowed us to see what everyone in remote locations was seeing and to avoid the annoying distracting conversation about who could see what. It also allowed for better viewing of the cameras from the remote participants.

#3. Land Line: I wanted desperately to be able to use my iPhone on the AT&T network for these calls, mainly because it has a nice headset which is crucial if you’re going to be on a call for a long time. But, repeatedly, it was my iPhone (or AT&T . . . its hard to tell which) that was the weakest link on the call: static, poor voice quality, call dropping, etc. In fact halfway through this series of workshops, I had to run out and by a headset for a landline. The improvement in quality was stunning . . . and it has in fact made me more aware of the reduction in voice quality generally on the iPhone/AT&T solution.

Do you have any tips to share?