How to get the most of a video conference

Friday, November 9 2012

Most tips or advice for using video conferencing software are usually geared toward presenters. Hosts are in charge of leading discussions, so they must be prepared, but they're not the only people involved in their online meetings.

When you're invited to a digital conference, you're expected to take as much information away from the discussion as you would from a face-to-face meeting. You should learn how to behave appropriately and use all of your application's features to learn as much as possible from a web conference.

Pay attention
The easiest way to learn is simply by paying attention. Audience members should make sure they're listening to everything a presenter is saying and following along with any visuals, such as slideshows and charts.

For one-on-one conferences, close all other programs and enable full-screen viewing for video conference. This can help prevent you from straying from a conference and opening other applications. If you're part of a group conference, do your best to focus on the presenter and not anything or anyone in the meeting room.

Record, don't take notes
Many people rely on notes to quickly reference important information later. While it's good that audience members want to remember key facts, writing messages can cause listeners to miss other talking points. During a web conference, everyone should pay attention until the meeting has concluded so they hear everything that presenters have to say.

The best video conferencing applications allow users to record every meeting. A video file can be more useful than handwritten notes, because it allows audiences to watch entire discussions instead of remembering brief moments. The feature also makes it unnecessary to do anything besides pay attention to the topic at hand.

Ask questions
Most people are taught to ask questions if they don't understand certain subjects or are struggling to follow conversations. Many digital conferences, whether they're meetings or webinars, have question-and-answer sessions that participants should use to their advantage.

Meetings are ultimately fruitless if you don't learn anything from it. If your host gives you an opportunity, speak up and ask a question to clear up the talking points that seem confusing. Don't be rude and interrupt a speaker. You should wait until there's a natural pause in the conversation or are prompted to provide feedback.