By Joelle A. Godfrey
Ever been in a virtual meeting that’s entered the Twilight Zone?
This is the kind of meeting where the Technology seems to be against you:
- Whether it’s the bridge (static or noise from a lurking caller)
- Another caller putting the conference on hold and triggering on-hold music
- The web presentation software you were using is:
- Not compatible with your team’s equipment
- Requires 10 minutes of upgrades in order for them to view the presentations
- Your password is mysteriously not working so you cannot start the software
All I can say is that I’ve been there. The clock is ticking and you have an audience waiting – some patiently, some thinking about other work that they have waiting for them. The villagers are holding their torches and looking to set you on fire, PM.
What are you going to do?
There’s only one way to work around these obstacles. Rather than sitting there, feeling your stress level rise and perspiration break out on your forehead, you need to implement one or more Failsafe Strategies:
Background noise from callers is one thing – you can ask the team to mute if they are not talking. When the Technology Faerie decides to attack the bridge with a loud sound or someone decides to put the conference on mute – triggering Hold Music…
FailSafe Response: Have a backup bridge handy. The odds of both bridges being torked up are minimal. Announce to the callers that we’re bailing on the old bridge and jumping on the new and send out the new details to everyone on the meeting notice. Worse case, you’ll lose 5 minutes and may still have time to complete your agenda.
Sometimes your callers are using incompatible software or equipment and in spite of everything, you cannot get the viewer to open quickly so you can start your meeting.
FailSafe Response: Do not spend more than 2 minutes wrangling the webshare. Abandon the funky software and send a pdf out to the folks on the call and keep moving forward.
Keep in mind that depending upon your agenda, some of these challenges may not impact what you are trying to accomplish. If you can discuss your topic without a webshare presentation, then don’t let it derail your conversation. The key is to keep the discussion moving forward, with as little distraction as possible.
This is one of the more frustrating challenges. Most PMs live and die by their computers. No computer obviously means no webshare.
If you were lucky enough to send out the relevant documents ahead of the computer meltdown – no problem – you can continue with your agenda. If your documents are posted to a website that other folks can get to and forward to your callers, this is another option.
When all else fails and people can’t open your file or the other bridge has the same noise problem, you may need to cede defeat to Murphy’s Law and reschedule. The best way to know whether you’ve spent the time effectively is to have an agenda that clearly describes your objective. If you’re unable to make the meeting work with the time you have – reschedule and show your respect for people’s time.
If you have any other suggestions, leave a comment or send me a tweet, my id is jgodfrey.