Web conferences allow you to hold live meetings and presentations with team members and clients around the globe. They are becoming increasingly popular for small businesses who are looking to achieve their aims and objectives but also save time and money in the process.
Web conferences are virtual meetings which bring people together in a visual, interactive environment. They are generally hosted by one person or company and participants are invited to attend.
You can utilise web conferencing to free up resources which can be better spent on increasing company profits, while still providing a highly interactive and engaging environment to collaborate with your employees and industry contacts.
Here is an easy guide that will help you to host an effective web conference.
1. Use a paid web conferencing provider
For small business owners, it's important that you guard your bottom line, reducing costs where possible while increasing company revenue. This is the main reason why small business owners opt for online web conferencing, as it eliminates the costs required to travel to meetings. The cost and time savings are undeniably beneficial for those with financial constraints.
However, there are only a certain number of costs that you should cut. It is important to use a paid web conferencing provider rather than a free online service, as free services can result in unreliable and unprofessional meetings.
Paid web conference providers offer superior support options and a multitude of features which include live chat, file sharing, polls and multimedia presentation tools.
Using a paid provider will lead to a smooth and effective meeting in which goals can be achieved and participants can contribute with ease. The meeting will be run to higher professional standards, enhancing your businesses’ reputation.
2. Test all audio-visual equipment prior to use
As the meeting host, you will be expected to open the conference and you will play a bigger role than most participants. You should check all of your AV equipment well before the conference date to make sure the quality is perfect for your audience.
If you are new to web conferencing, it might be a good idea to write and practice your opening statement. The idea here is to communicate the meeting aims and agenda, and perhaps take the time to introduce your company and its main goals and achievements, much like you would in a face-to-face meeting. This will help you make a good impression in front of your guests.
3. Set clear and realistic meeting goals
Small businesses often use web conferences to hold meetings with existing and potential clients. You can hold training sessions by using web conferencing platforms as ‘virtual classrooms’, or get creative and give product demonstrations online.
Whatever the purpose, your web conference will run most efficiently if you set clearly defined goals for the meeting. If you are holding an internal meeting to talk about company goals, outline this and stick to it. Leave time at the end for questions and general discussion.
Be realistic about what you can achieve in the allocated time and don’t try to cover too much. Instead, focus on specific areas where you can solve problems or make progress where it's most needed.
4. Provide instructions for attendees
Not all of your attendees will be familiar with the web conferencing provider that you're working with. If you're going to use web conferencing for regular internal meetings, you can give your employees simple training so that they become familiar with the process. If your meetings include external teams or clients, provide them with detailed instructions on how to access the conference.
When telling guests the time and date of the conference, include the web link and access code as well. You can also give them an overview of the meeting agenda so that they know what to expect. This will help the conference run smoothly.
5. Acknowledge your audience early
Begin your meeting by acknowledging your audience. If your conference consists of only a few people, greet them all by name and introduce yourself. Your team want to feel the personal touch, even though the meeting is online. Likewise, clients don’t want to feel like they are just a nameless avatar behind a screen – welcome them to your virtual space!
If the meeting involves several dozen or hundred people and it's impractical to greet each individual, prepare an opening statement that is tailored to your audience. It should serve the same purpose - introducing yourself and greeting your participants.
6. Allow everyone to have a voice
It's important that everyone in your web conference is given the opportunity to speak and be heard. Otherwise, you may as well host a webinar presentation in which you are the only speaker.
An interactive conference is built around communication between all parties. There may be occasions in which a guest speaker talks without interruption, but for the most part your conference should feel like you are all sat around a physical table - anyone should be able to have an input when they have something to contribute, as long as it's conducive to your business goals.
Paid web hosting services provide the option to mute and unmute participants according to your business needs – just one added benefit of a virtual meeting!
7. Gather attendees' details to stay in touch
Web conferences can be about training or problem-solving, but they are also beneficial for networking with industry figures or potential partners and clients within your industry. Be sure to set aside time in your web conference for participants to swap contact and social media details for future opportunities.