As we move through the summer and into the fourth quarter, COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing in the United States, and many states are considering or already enforcing additional restrictions to try to get a handle on this dangerous virus. But it’s summer, and people still want to hold get-togethers — even if it’s just a virtual gathering by the pool. How can you hold an outdoor virtual meeting that lets you connect with others in your professional or personal life, while enjoying warmer weather? We have some tips that may help you meet your goals.
Outdoor Virtual Meetings are Possible, but Tricky
A virtual outdoor summer party or business event can be just as fun or productive as being together, it just takes some creativity and logistics to make it all work. We have recently seen some great ideas for outdoor virtual meetings for both the home and office, including:
· Remote sleepovers for the kids. Set up a tent in the backyard and stream in the neighbor kids next door live from their own tents. You can sit around the virtual campfire and tell ghost stories. Bring out the laptop and set it in the tent for lots of giggles and fun way past everyone’s bedtime.
· Virtual game night for coworkers or friends. While game night usually includes an in-person gathering with cards or a board game, you can pull this together on the picnic table out back and use online video meeting tools to bring in your work teams or friends you haven’t seen in a while. These tools usually have chat features and screen share that will help you play and be competitive with others and it will be a good way to engage them.
· Video happy hour. For a little adult fun, bring your laptops outside and share a cocktail hour with your friends, family, or work colleagues. Just select your video service, your cocktail of choice, set the scene with music and décor, and perhaps even dress up to get you in the mood.
But conducting a virtual meeting outside does present some logistical difficulties that an indoor video conference does not. There are two primary issues to tackle:
· First, the same tips and tricks for planning any outdoor event apply to an outdoor video meeting, namely, weather considerations.
· Second, the logistics of moving your video camera or digital devices outside, as well making sure you have a good Wi-Fi signal and the outdoor lighting is adequate.
We have 10 tips to help you overcome these two issues, which in the end, will help you be able to host a summertime meeting or party outdoors in the fresh air and invite whomever you like, knowing the event will be a success.
10 Tips for Moving Your Online Video Meetings Outside
1. Determine whether your particular event will work outside. What are the objectives and goals of your event? Will it work outside in the open air, or will you need to be inside to make it work?
2. Make sure the location around your home (or wherever you’re hosting the event) is a suitable venue. Walk around the space to make sure there are outlets (or extension cables) for the equipment and that the area is neat and suitable for the event. In the same way you check behind you to see what’s on the shelves during a virtual indoor meeting, look around the outside area to try to see what remote participants will see.
3. Watch the weather like a hawk, and always have a backup plan. Go ahead and create a rainy-day strategy, just in case.
4. Organize the event in a way where people can come together over activities. For example, if it’s a virtual pool party for a birthday, pull all the kids together to open presents on screen and eat cake.
5. Have alternative plans for everything in case the power goes out, the Wi-Fi gets shaky, or some other crisis happens.
6. The first technology logistic to consider is the strength of your Wi-Fi signal. As you stage the location for your outdoor virtual event, does the signal strength remain stable? If your Wi-Fi doesn’t have the bandwidth, throughput or the signal strength, your event will be in jeopardy.
ProTip: Consider a Wi-Fi extender such as the Google Nest, which is very reliable and easy to set up.
7. Now think about lighting. If you’ve ever had sunlight stream through a window onto your computer screen, you know what having bright light can do to the images on your screen. If you’re hosting an event outdoors and using either an attached camera or even the one built into your laptop or tablet, it’s a good idea to set up under shade or your picture will (obviously) degrade. Webcams automatically adjust and focus on the brightest source of light. Avoid being back-lit, or too lit by the sun, to ensure the best picture.
8. Audio can be just as tricky as lighting in an outdoor virtual meeting. Wind and background noise affect the quality of your participants’ experience. Cross talk naturally happens in any party setting, but when you’re in a virtual meeting, it can be distracting. That’s why it’s a good idea to have the video conferencing area away from other party noises. If you have kids in the pool, set up the camera away from any splashing, of course, but also in a quieter part of the yard.
9. Test the connections and party set up in advance of the meeting. This is true whether it’s a virtual indoor meeting for work or an outdoor party for your friends. Check your hardware, including Wi-Fi, and the videoconferencing link, to be sure everything works well.
10. Consider a basic USB mic, which is a simple-to-use, dedicated external microphone. Some of the best ones have built-in legs and dedicated volume/mute controls. Along the same lines, consider a dedicated camera that you can move around on a flat surface. Make sure the one you purchase works with videoconferencing applications without any additional software.
This summer will be a challenging one for many of us, but know that the video conferencing solution MegaMeeting provides is standing by to help your next meeting be a success. Contact our team to find out more about our service.
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