Okay – If you frequently use Web or Video Conferencing software like Zoom, WebEx, GoToMeeting, Ring Central Meetings or Microsoft Team Meetings, (or anything of the like), then this article is not for you. This article was actually created in response to a new segment of clients, small business owners, and organizations that are just now embracing this as new way of meeting with their groups or customers in today’s communication environment.
If you belong to a local non-profit like our local Osseo Lions Club, are an active member of small business associations like our Referral Link Networking group, Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS (MAAR), or Minnesota Women Lawyers Association (MWL), and have not previously participated in a webinar, or have rarely (if ever) previously participated in face-to-face mixed media web conferencing for groups, this information WILL be a bit helpful to you as we set up more “virtual meetings” in the coming days and weeks. So READ ON…
Web Conferencing and Group Face Time Isn’t Just for the Kiddos – So How Do You Get Started?
IF YOU HAVE NEVER JOINED A WEB-CONFERENCE CALL BEFORE – There a few things you need to know.
There are several ways you can participate in the meeting.
- DESKTOP/LAPTOP You can use the camera and speakers on your own laptop to see and hear others joining the meeting. Click on the Meeting URL found in your email or calendar invitation and follow the prompts to select how you will utilize video and audio (audio via your computer or call in).If your computer doesn’t have a microphone built-in, or the webcam you’re using doesn’t have a microphone, but you would like to be able to talk at some point in the meeting, you can use the phone information provided in the invitation to call in and join the conversation. Otherwise, there will be a “CHAT” box option you can use to ask questions during the meeting and someone, (like the host) will help the presenter moderate those questions and comments.
- MOBILE APP If you have a smart phone, you can download the web conferencing app ahead of time through your Apple or Google App store. (Back2Basics uses Zoom Pro. You can click here for a list of Zoom’s downloads) Then you will use the Meeting ID in the meeting invitation you receive to join the fun via screen sharing and audio through your phone’s internet, or you can use your phone to call into the meeting using the one-tap options in the emailed meeting invitation you received. Follow the prompts carefully.
- CALL IN ONLY If you do not have access to the internet, but would still like to join the call, you can still use the CALL-IN phone numbers in your email invitation to join the call. No one else in the meeting will be able to see you, but you will still be able to hear the speakers and join in on the conversation when it’s appropriate to do so. Make sure to follow these login prompts carefully. They may ask for a pin or password followed by one or a series of (#) pound button pushes.NOTE: If you’re using a land line, or a limited service cellular service, additional fees may apply.
Here are a few other notes, before you open (or access) your web conference email invitation…
1. If you’re joining our Zoom call via your computer and web camera, know the image will jump around to the last person who spoke or moved to help keep your attention. If everyone is talking at once, nothing will get done. So, although we want to have our normal member levity, we may need to mute people at some point.
2. Joining the meeting via the desktop application or mobile app (versus just calling in), will give you additional ways to participate in the meeting. You could see demonstrations through screen-sharing. You can chat with others on the call or use the chat function to ask questions of the speaker, host or moderator. You can “raise” your virtual hand if you have a question and want to be acknowledged. You can participate in polling questions with voting tools, and more.
3. Many times the meetings can be recorded. Back2Basics has a pro account with Zoom that will record a meeting and save it to the cloud (upon request) for up to 7 days in case you want to refer back to it or share it with members of the team or group who were not able to join. But, recording is NOT always a given when participating with other organizations, so be sure to ask.
4. When you sign into the online meeting you may be placed in a “welcome” or “waiting” room until the Host or Moderator clears you to enter. It is IMPORTANT you type in your name when prompted at sign-in so the Host and/or Moderator knows who you are and you don’t run the risk of being declined entry as someone who may have mistakenly come to your meeting.
5. You will most likely enter the meeting on MUTE and/or with your VIDEO (camera) off. Make sure to look for the audio and video controller buttons to turn them on when you’re ready to be seen and heard. If the host unmutes you, but you’re in a space that you cannot talk, you can mute yourself again.
6. If you find that you’re getting an audio feedback or echo, that’s typically due to multiple microphones or speakers on at the same time. This usually occurs when someone signs into the web conference on their computer so they can see what’s happening, but then dial into their phone so they can hear, and now both the computer microphone or speakers are working with the phone’s microphone or speakers. You can fix this quickly by muting yourself on the computer application.
7. You can dress up your background using custom virtual background designs to help hide distracting clutter from your environment and keep the conversation focused on you and your message. You’ll need a solid, bright blue or green backdrop (or green screen) to show your design over the top of, but simple paint, a plain sheet (held taut) or green screen stand will work. Then just upload your custom design as a Virtual Background under your video settings in Zoom. Designs can be still shots or video sized to the dimensions of 1280px X 720px. You can learn more about custom branded virtual backgrounds for Zoom by Back2Basics here.
8. Finally, this is a space to use to connect with those who we cannot otherwise connect with in person right now. It’s okay to have a little fun, but remember, unlike an in-person meeting, when our scheduled time is up on the virtual call, the meeting will shut down. So, stay focused and respectful of each speaker’s turn to keep things moving forward.
ONE BIG BENEFIT I SEE HERE — Roll CALL can be easier to track as people login AND – no one will steal Lion Tanya’s butter patties (inside joke).
See you all on the next call!
For additional questions or concerns, contact “Lion” Tanya Troska with Back2Basics, LLC for advice and direction. — Existing clients know where to find her! Or request a consult here.