This is a great question. Why buy a camera if there is already one built into your laptop?

A Bridge the Distance all of our trainers have a separate cameras for some very good reasons.  Not only is the quality of the video better, but the quality of the audio is improved with the built in microphone if you are using the internal VOIP of your web conference tool.
But if those reasons in and by themselves aren’t enough for you to go out and spend another $50-100 on an external camera, here’s the icing on the cake.  Not only do these cameras give better video and audio, but they also allow you to “adjust” the picture much better and much easier.
For instance, using the built in camera for my laptop, I have a slew of video settings.  But like many electronic settings, these amount to too much of a good thing.  I find in setting the picture on my TV, I can go in and adjust color, hue, brightness, etc.  But I also find that there are a series of standard settings which tend to work very well.  I simply toggle between these settings and pick the one that I like best.  When I try to use the individual control I find I end up fighting myself.

The Most Horrific Webinar Ever

trying to adjust the camera to frame your face is hard with a built in camera.

I have an external Microsoft Camera on my computer.  The video settings include brightness, white balance, saturation, exposure, contrast and powerline frequency.  Two of these (white balance and exposure) have an auto button which works very well and one (powerline frequency– its designed to minimize flicker) has only two choices (50 or 60 HZ) which makes it also very easy to set.  This leaves only 3 controls which gives me the feeling of control and which I can operate without a problems.
Learning as we’ve gone along, we used to set up for our training session with additional lighting, and moving the camera to the right distance to frame ourselves correctly for the best picture.  Then one day we discovered the advanced tools.  
The brightness control was our first discovery.  It seems we didn’t need all those extra lights.  All we needed to do was to increase the lighting in the camera.  It also solved a problem what the extra lighting would show up as a glare in anyone who wore glasses.
And there is a second control panel (camera control) as well in the advanced settings.  These included focus, zoom, pan and tilt.   It turns out rather than moving the camera back and forth, we could simply zoom in (it goes from zero to 10X).  The pan allowed us to move our position in the video window either left or right and the tilt allowed us to move our position up or down.   The focus setting was another setting with an automatic setting or you can focus by hand if you like.
With the built in camera, you had no auto settings in the video settings and while the camera control did have most of the same settings, all but exposure were grayed out.  What this meant was that the internal camera would have to get that extra lighting, and try to position the laptop so that it would frame your image correctly (try doing that without getting some of the ceiling in the picture) and it would be the correct distance from you for you to fill up the video window.
You may find that buying the camera despite the fact that your laptop has a built in camera may be worthwhile for leaders of online sessions and well as teams were people may be reluctant to use the camera because of the shortcomings mentioned in this posting.

Jaclyn Kostner, PhD, the Webinar Guru
See our new website at http://www.THEwebinarguru.com

A new Gallup poll  found that only 30 percent of workers are “were engaged, or involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their workplace.”   This number is the same that Gallup found when they surveyed this last two years ago.

 
The survey classifies three types of employees among the 100 million people in America who hold full-time jobs. The first is actively engaged, which represents about 30 million workers. The second type of worker is “not engaged,” which accounts for 50 million. These employees are going through the motions at work.  The third type, labeled “actively disengaged,” hates going to work. These workers — about 20 million — undermine their companies with their negative attitude, according to the report.

 

Gallup - 7 out of 10 are not engaged
Gallup estimates that workers who are actively disengaged cost the U.S. as much as $550 billion in economic activity yearly.

 
The good news is that more companies are aware of building an engaged workforce.  “The general consciousness about the importance of employee engagement seems to have increased in the past decade,” said Jim Harter, Gallup’s chief scientist for workplace management and well-being. “But there is a gap between knowing about engagement and doing something about it in most American workplaces.”

 
Engaging people in the workplace is the manager’s primary function.  For high-level engagement, virtual team members must have high confidence that their manager cares about them and the people on the team, cares about everyone’s professional development and experiences, and cares that everyone is rewarded and recognized for individual and team achievement.   Studies have found that good leadership communication like this can turn these numbers around, doubling the number of people that are actively engaged at work, and cutting the number of unhappy, actively disengaged employees in half.

 
Submitted by Jaclyn Kostner, Ph.D., Virtual Team Expert and Best-selling Business Author
Bridge the Distance, Inc.   www.distance.com   www.THEwebinarguru.com

When people work in a face-to-face setting, it is easy to discover what’s important to each other through normal every-day conversations at work, at lunch, and at break.  When we work virtually, however, we lack the informal time together to get more acquainted.

virtual leader team collaboration communication connection

Relationships begin with knowledge

If you lead a virtual team and want to develop a stronger relationship with your people, here is a list of what people want to know about you as the leader.  In your 1:1 audio or video conversations with the people on your team, here are some things your team members want to know about you as their leader.  Use these same questions to find out more about your people, too..

1. Who are you as a person?  What do you like?
2. What is important to you about our team’s work?
3. What are your priorities?  What can I count on from you as the leader?
4. How do I trust you?  What are your key values as a leader of this team?
5. What do you want from me?  What are your expectations?
6. What do you need from me in order to give me autonomy?
7. How do I know you’re looking out for me? 
Jaclyn Kostner, Ph.D., Virtual Team Expert and Best-selling Business Author
Bridge the Distance, Inc.  www.distance.com   www.THEwebinarguru.com

Here’s a list of things you can do today to make your online meeting better and more valuable to your virtual team.
6 things you can do to improve your online meetings now

The target for our virtual meetings must be high value and high quality.

The target for our virtual meetings must be high value and high quality.

 

  1. Only hold them when you need them.  Make sure your standing meetings are needed each and every time you hold them.
  2. Make sure the agenda items affect everyone in the meeting.  If you are covering something that doesn’t effect me, why am I there (I actually won’t be there for long)?
  3. Don’t use them to simply pass out information.  This is the second biggest mistake you can make in your online meeting.  Precious interactive time should be used to interact.
  4. Use them for things that require group discussion or approvals.  Actually try to get work done in your meetings.
  5. Ask team members what subjects are most valuable to them.  If you are having meetings on things that aren’t that valuable, don’t complain that people are multitasking.
  6. End the meetings going over who will do what by when.  Not doing this is the biggest mistake you can make.

 

Recently I got into a conversation with some young members of the Chamber of Commerce.  We were talking about doing things online and how difficult it is to keep their attention.  One of the people said, “People in my generation are awful.  We have an attention span of about 30 seconds.

We can confirm this.  Web Ex has an attention meter which allows you to see how many people have moved off your screen to another one.  We keep track of if and when people go to other screens and over the past five years we’ve learned a lot.   What is clear is that more people are moving more quickly than ever to multitask.  

Now we could spend a lot of time trying to figure out why this is happening but in doing so we would be sabotaging this posting.  In fact, what you want to know is what can we do about it.

Dr. Kostner offers you the FIRE solution.  FIRE is an acronym for what we must do to keep people focused and learning.  We need to be FAST, INTERACTIVE, RELEVANT and ENGAGING.FIRE

Your online training should be about 50% or more FASTER than what you do when you are face to face.  When you first try doing this you will feel as if you are flying, but through the use of pace polls (polls where you get feedback to see if people want you to go faster, slower or are just right) you will find the correct speed for your class.

INTERACTION is the most important thing you can do in your online training.  Lectures simply will not work.  If you try to lecture the class, you will find that after perhaps 2 minutes you will see people deserting the training session.  We frequently find clients who want to put time aside for those rich discussions we have when we are face-to-face in a training class.  Even though this is not a lecture, it suffers the same fate.  After one or two people have given their opinion, people want to move on which they will do with you or without you.  One person in an online training class talking is not interaction.  We all need to talk at the same time using the tools available to do so.

RELEVANT learning for the online learner helps them do their job better immediately.  Online training needs to be sharply focused.  You need to break the learning down into small learning points, have some interaction to make sure they understand and then move on to another learning point.  Remember when I told you we could try to figure out why people were moving more quickly to multitask but that would sabotage this posting.  Online when you aren’t talking about relevant learning the helps me to my job better, you are sabotaging your training.  And why we are moving to multitasking faster might be interesting to one or two people in the class, it doesn’t help everyone do their job better.  It isn’t relevant. 

Finally, we need to be ENGAGING.  Too often in both face-to-face and online training, we will have a portion of the class who hide.  They avoid engagement.  In fact, using all the tools available in your online conferencing tool it becomes easier to get them engaged and keep them engage.  You need the knowledge of how the tool works and the discipline to use the tool for this engagement.    

So take the time to make your online training FAST and you will reap the benefits.  As a student told us this week after the first of three training sessions:  “This is the best training class I have ever attended.”

 

-Jaclyn Kostner, Ph.D., “My Webinar Guru”  info@distance.com

 

Unlock LYNC’s power to create SUPERIOR Virtual Team collaboration.  It’s not about how to operate Microsoft LYNC, but rather it’s how to transform LYNC into a collaboration powerhouse your people will use and love.

LYCN-tastic marketing jpeg

 

We need to look at LYNC not as a technology simply to reduce travel.  Rather look at LYNC as a central place for you  to drive superior collaboration, communication and interpersonal connectedness in a virtual setting.

Research shows that when a new technology is placed on the desktop without training, people rarely adopt it or use it well.  In today’s busy work environment, no one has the time to figure out how to use technology.  Even fewer know how to use it to improve results at work.  As a result, the real value of the technology is untapped.

Our LYNC-tastic Virtual Teamwork training has three parts to it. 

1.  Supercharge your INFORMAL INTERACTION in LYNC Meetings is a two hour live training session delivered on LYNC.  It is appropriate for everyone within your virtual organizations.   This eye-opening webinar trains everyone in not only the annotation tools, but the use of the IM chat, the emoticons, the use of video, and much more.  The people taking this training will be comfortable with LYNC and energized to use it in all informal collaboration in a virtual setting.
 
2.  Supercharge your PLANNED INTERACTION in LYNC Meetings is also two hours of live training delivered on LYNC.  This is designed for meeting leaders after they take the Informal Interaction training.  This training gives leaders the BEST practices to quickly plan and facilitate their LYNC meetings to make them engaging, interactive and productive.   Leaders are taught how to speed group brainstorming, problem solving, decision making while getting buy-in from everyone on their team.  They learn how to begin collaborating in ways that are superior to face-to-face meetings.

3.  Supercharge EFFECTIVENESS IN OPERATING AND PERSONALIZING LYNC.  The final piece of the training is on-demand tutorials that mentors people how to personalize LYNC and learn tips and tricks that maximizes the effectiveness of LYNC.  They will learn specifically how to personalize their presence on LYNC, how to pin their main contacts and groups for easy and frequent access,  how to make a LYNC audio or video call, when to use share desktop vs. share program vs. share PowerPoint in LYNC meetings and more.

We really feel that LYNC is a great move by any virtual organization and we can insure that you feel the same way after our training.  Don’t settle on having LYNC simply on your desktop.  Make it a key to your success.  If you are using LYNC and want to get the maximum out of it, call us at 303.791.1515!

online meetings ineffective boring web conference

Can a virtual team leader ever share a program or desktop and keep people engaged?  If you are meeting with a very small group of 2-3 people that are actively talking about it in real time, perhaps, for a very limited time, if that document is highly relevant to them.

If your virtual meeting is larger, such as with ten people linked virtually from ten sites, then different rules apply.  When ten poeple are in the web conference meeting, their “relevance” screen is up and active.  The second the personal relevance of the meeting content drops, they’ll multitask.  For example, if the virtual leader does a verbal round-robin, polling people one at a time to approve or disapprove a document, that’s too slow!   Instead, to keep virtual team members actively engaged, use Chat to get a spontaneous reading of the group’s thinking.  Ask the virtual team members to use Chat to type an A for Approve or D for Disapprove.  Instantly, everyone will have a sense of the group’s thinking.  Then you’ll be able to ask a few people to give verbal detail about their A or D response.  Capture that key thinking on a whiteboard, so the main thinking of the group is displayed.  These are some techniques that turn an informational meeting into a collaborative meeting designed to keep virtual team members actively  engaged and particpating.

Of course, you’ll need to count the Chat responses to make sure that everyone has participated.  Remember, silence is never approval.  Always make sure that you ask for a tangible response from your team using any of the interactive tools.

Here are four additional best practices you can apply today to keep your virtual team members engaged in your online meetings.

1. Use your team’s virtual meeting to actively make agreements and get thing done, not passively “view” meeting documents. Don’t use your meeting simply to hand out information. When people work virtually, the most precious commodity they have is their common time together as a team in the virtual team meeting. Don’t waste even a second of that time simply giving out information that doesn’t require discussion and agreement.  Send “information only” out by email.  Then cover it “headline style” at the opening of the meeting, if required.  Minimize information dissemination; maximize virtual team collaboration.

2. Have everyone meet from the desktop. Don’t have some people meeting in a conference room while others meet from the desktop. Intuitively people want to meet face to face especially if they are at the home location of the team leader. They don’t want to give up being able to see one another and read the non-verbal cues of others. But the people who aren’t in the home office feel excluded and discounted. They can’t see anyone’s non-verbal cues and have a tough time even getting in on the conversations. You may think they are okay with it. They aren’t.

3. Create norms for your online meeting. Norms simply mean this is the way we do things around here. Be explicit. If you say that your virtual team meeting begins on time, at the top of the hour, then begin on time.  If you say that latecomers will not be briefed, don’t waste everyone else’s time to brief them.  If a virtual team member receives an important call from a customer during the virtual team meeting, set the norm to quickly inform the team in Chat.  For example, the virtual team member can type “customer call” in Chat.  Also the team member to type “I’m back” when the customer call ends.  What are your norms about calling into the meeting when you are in a car and you don’t have the video feed of your online meeting? Get your team to agree on five critical meeting norms that will improve the value of the meeting to them, and then follow those norms exactly.

4. Discuss issues first that affect everyone at the meeting. If any agenda item pertains to only some of the team members, cover it later in the session.  Give other virtual team members the opportunity (but not the requirement) to logoff when it occurs.  People will always think well of a leader that takes great care to never waste other people’s precious time in meetings.

Effective virtual meetings feel as warm and effective as if people are in the same room together.  If yours feel like they are less than face-to-face, it is critical to take specific steps to improve them.

–Jaclyn Kostner, Ph.D.

web conference meeting,engage trust

 

“If we are to enjoy the efficiencies and other benefits of the virtual organization, we will have to rediscover how to run organizations based more on trust than on control. Virtuality requires trust to make it work: Technology on its own is not enough.” Charles Handy

Technology isn’t enough if you want a high performance virtual team. As Charles Handy says in the statement above, you need trust. And just when you need trust even more than when you are face-to-face, you find that trust is more difficult to establish from a distance.

Trust develops over time with interactions which lets people know one another, find out what things they have in common, and lets them learn what to expect from each other. Nothing breaks trust more quickly than failure to meet each other’s expectations.

So what can you do to promote trust when your team is not all in one location? What makes the difference? Here are six things you can do to promote trust in your virtual team.

1. Keep people informed. Distance is like a blanket that has been thrown over the team and everyone is stumbling around in the dark. You need to increase the communication reassuring people as to what is happening, what’s important and what they should be doing.

2. Tell people not just what is happening, but why it’s happening. You must provide context because when we are in different locations that is what we are missing. This allows employees to understand what’s going on and will make them better able to get results. They will feel empowered and you will feel more secure.

3. Don’t assume anything. When we are apart, not only do our people not have the context for what is going on, but frequently we don’t either. Assuming the worst about a situation is a quick way to break a fragile trust you have with your people.

4. Give your people your undivided attention. What people want more than anything is the most precious commodity you have—your time. Make sure you give them your undivided attention when you are meeting with them. This will greatly increase the trust your people with have in you.

5. Tell people what your expectations are. Most people want to do a good job and want to please their boss. If they aren’t doing this the first place you should look is at yourself. Are you being clear about what your expectations are and what you want from them. Sharpen up your communication in this important area.

6. Treat everyone on the team as equals. Stop holding team meeting from a conference room and start holding them online from everyone’s desktop. If you are meeting from a conference room with remote team members calling in on an audio conference, understand that there are two different meetings going on and you don’t want to be on the other end of the phone. People notice and it affects their morale, their trust and their ability to contribute to the team.

Developing trust from a distance is not easy and it won’t happen quickly.  But if you fall down on the six items here, you will have a very difficult time getting the performance that only comes out of teams that trust each other.

virtual meeting effectiveness Bridge the DistanceWe’ve all been in those online web conference meetings where it suddenly occurs to you, “What am I doing here?” The topic being covered has nothing to do with you. So you do what makes the most sense and put your phone on mute and proceed to work on other things. It’s called multitasking.

Online web conference meetings like online training seems to be a foreign animal that most teams struggle with. We miss the visual feedback and the side conversations that we had when we were face to face. We don’t feel engaged. Too often the leader of the team doesn’t know how to conduct this kind of a webinar and we end up spending time on low value low engagement topics that easily could have been put into an email for us to read at our leisure.

We can’t solve all the problems with online meetings today, but we can give you six things you can do to improve your online web conference meetings now.

1. Only hold them when you need them. Standing web conference meetings are frequently just that. They are standing in the way of getting important work done or standing on the calendar even when there is no need or a very low need to meet. The leader should check with the participants to see if there is something that needs the teams attention. If not, why meet?

2. Make sure the agenda items will engage everyone in the meeting. One of the big mistakes leaders make it to try to hold individual meetings with the members of his/her team while the rest of the team holds on the line. While this may be efficient for the leader it engages no one and is a terrible waste of time for the team members. A team web conference meeting should only address issues pertinent to the entire team. If you want to hold over a part of the team for additional topics do so, or schedule a separate webinar with those affected.

3. Don’t use them to simply pass out information. Another easily rectified problem is to stop using online web conference meetings to pass out information that could easily be put into an email. Web conference meetings for virtual teams is their lifeblood for collaboration and engagement.

4. Use web conference meeings for things that require group discussion or approvals. Virtual teams can be spread out across the country or even across the world. Time together is limited and very precious as a result. What we want is for our team to be aligned so that even though we are separated by distance, we are all going in the same direction as a team. We must use this precious interactive time to forge that direction and get those agreements.

5. Ask team members what subjects are most valuable to them. If you want the team to be focused and engaged during your online meetings you need to be discussing issues they consider important. How do you find out what they are? Ask.

6. End the meetings going over who will do what by when. With distance we need to hold everyone accountable to make the progress we need to make. At the end of every web conference meeting we should go over the agreements reached including who is responsible and what they are responsible to do by when. And don’t forget to put it in writing on a whiteboard or a PowerPoint slide.

There are a lot more things that you can do in web conference meetings to make them engaging, interactive and fun. But these simple six things can make your online webinars better starting tomorrow. The article was prepared with help of BestAusCasinos.com – Australian casino guide.

multitasking webinar effectiveness eLearningDo you multitask in webinars? Of course! We live in the age of multitasking. We’re all guilty as charged. After all, with all of the amazing technologies that are so tightly integrated in our lives today, how can we resist? Like you, I love technology. I’m addicted to it. Life without technology seems so…un‐dazzling!

Yet, in Learning and Development organizations, life with technology has opened a Pandora’s Box: multitasking in eLearning webinars, and this phenomenon is multiplying every year. It’s the reason why 71% of learning professionals say that engaging e-learners in webinars is their #1 challenge. Instead of being engaged in the training, a growing number are multitasking on other things during the webinar.

We all know the problem this causes. You ask someone a question and they say, “Could you repeat the question?” They aren’t fooling anyone when they do this, least of all you. Some of the technologies have allowed us to quantify the multitasking that goes on, but all that does is let us know when you’ve you no longer are engaging them.

For Learning and Development professionals, such as Maple Leaf Online Casino, however, the multitasking phenomenon in learning webinars poses an even greater threat. According to Russell Poldrack, Ph.D., Associate Professor Psychology at UCLA, multitasking inhibits people from learning new facts and concepts. His research used brain imaging to study what happens when people learn—without multitasking and while multitasking. Additional research by neuroscientist Karen Foerde at Columbia University confirmed the findings. The results are startling.

He discovered that people can learn things while multitasking, but they will have a problem remembering it later and applying it to other situations. The reason why is because the brain processes information differently when people multitask vs. not multitask in e-learning situations.

Normal learning has us storing the learning in the hippocampus. Learning stored in the hippocampus is easy to recall. It is also easy to apply that same concept in different situations.

In contrast, if the person is multitasking while learning the brain no longer stores that concept in the hippocampus. Instead, it processes it in the stratum, which is a different part of the brain that is designed for recalling how do tasks that are second nature, such as how to drive to work. As a result, the multitasking learner will have difficulty remembering the concept, and even greater difficulty applying it to different situations

This additional research underscores why Learning and Development organizations must not accept that multitasking is okay in e-learning webinars. It’s not. So how do you stop it?

Successful webinars feel spontaneous and fun, but in reality they are precisely redesigned and choreographed for the internet, and then are very well orchestrated by the facilitator. To keep learners engaged in small‐group training webinars, relevant interaction occurs on nearly every slide. There is a level of fun with accountability to learn built into every interaction.

Success requires a comprehensive system that your designers and facilitators both know and apply. It is a team effort. If people are not vigorously multitasking (interacting through the mouse, keyboard, and voice) with each other in the webinar, they will be multitasking on other things outside the webinar—and not learning. When we actively engage our webinar e-learners, real magic happens!

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