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Virtual Conferencing in a Covid World

I think by now, most of us have accepted the fact that large-scale in-person meetings and conferences are just not appropriate or practicable.

Until those clever souls in lab coats have created a COVID-conquering vaccine, unnecessarily risking the health of your employees (and, therefore, increased absenteeism though illness or enforced self-isolating) in the name of getting your messages out there is about as counterintuitive as you can get.

And yet, getting those messages out there, informing and reassuring your teams is more important than ever. This is where technology is your friend, business partner and love interest all rolled into one.

There are many web-based options available that facilitate virtual meetings, and there is almost certainly a configuration to meet your specific needs.

Google Hang-Outs allows up to 150 people to, well, “hang out”, with a maximum of 25 on a video call.

Zoom has various options available to meet your needs and budget, offering up to 100 participants for up to 40 minutes for free. That ramps up to 1000 participants without time restraints at the top-end of their paid offering.

MS Teams allows up to 49 visible participants at a time but up to 250 in a meeting.

They are now even launching a special “Together” mode which promises to battle the fatigue induced by the wholly unnatural set-up of looking at lots of disembodied heads (and the occasional pet cat) in tiny boxes on a screen. “Together” uses software to bring all participants “together” in one virtual space, from a coffee shop to an auditorium, allowing more natural interpersonal interactions and a much easier ride for the host.

Best of all, if your company is using Office 365 then you already have Teams right now for FREE!

Microsoft also boast that they can host webinars, company-wide events, and presentations with up to 10,000 attendees via their “Live Events” platform.

On top of the video conferencing facility, file and screen sharing options make meaningful communication and collaboration easy.

Not that keen on your home décor? Some even give you the ability to change your background so you can attend your meeting from the bottom of your fish tank if that’s your thing. Or at least hide the sky-scraping pile of ironing in the corner of the room!

To really enhance your audience engagement, throw in an additional functionality like Vevox, which allows participants to anonymously submit questions or comments, and others to vote for or “like” their favourites. Now you have the ability to truly include all, elicit honest and representative views and answer the questions that are actually burning across your teams. What better way to really understand how your people are feeling at this most challenging of times?

Tying all of this in with an online employee recognition scheme that allows your people to show their appreciation for each other regardless of location or work pattern, and you have yet another motivational tool at your disposal – the perfect resource for light-hearted and morale-boosting content for your virtual get togethers.

Meeting on screen may never become a full substitute for the in-person experience, but those tech’ wizards have worked hard to make these alternatives as interactive, collaborative and easy to use as possible. Now it’s our turn to embrace their efforts and make the right platform work for us and our teams.


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