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How to Ensure Your Video Meetings Start On Time

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Ryan Murphy
January 7, 2020

Anyone using video conferencing on a regular basis can tell you: video meetings rarely start on time. And not only not on time, but 10-15 minutes late. It’s so common that many video users actually schedule their meetings with a buffer in mind.

The cause? Almost always someone grappling with tech. Someone new to video, or new to the particular platform being used. They’ll try to join on time, of course. But when they click on the link provided, they find that they need to download something, install it, troubleshoot networking/firewall issues, and so on. By the time they join, they’re not only late, but flustered and annoyed.

As the meeting organizer, it’s up to you to facilitate a smooth join-flow. It’s critical to having a productive meeting. And to getting it going on time.

So what can you do to make that happen? Here are some tips that we’ve learned through experience; almost all of our meetings, both collaborative and sales calls, happen over video. We understand the importance of making it quick and easy to join.

Let’s start with the most important (and intuitive):

Choose the platform with the easiest join flow

The key to both starting a video on time (and adoption in general): Removing barriers-to-entry. If there is a step that meeting participants can get hung up on, they WILL get hung up on it. Guaranteed. Especially when it comes to downloading and installing software.

So if you are assessing video conferencing software, heed this advice: go with a solution that does not require downloading or installing software.

As a video provider, this was a tough pill for us to swallow. Early iterations of our RP1Cloud platform required a downloadable plug-in to use. Simple in theory, but a nightmare in practice. You wouldn’t believe how many people haven’t got the permissions, the knowhow, or the network setup to facilitate something that we took for granted. It turned out to be a huge barrier.

Most platforms still require a download, but some (including ourselves) have moved to a download-free experience. Leveraging WebRTC, meetings happen entirely in-browser. No downloads. No network/firewall issues. It’s as easy as clicking a link in an invite and joining.

Provide a heads-up in the invite

Whether you go with a download-free video platform or not, you should tell your meeting participants what to expect ahead of time. We’re still at a point where video conferencing is new to a lot of people; a lot of them think that it will be as easy as placing a phone call. It’s usually not. You should warn them.

So if you have the opportunity, either in conversation or email, let them know if there’s anything they might get hung up on. Tell them to download (if necessary) and install the platform ahead of time. If they have an issue, they can troubleshoot or get IT on it before the meeting.

Ideally participants will join a test call ahead of time, where they can make sure that their microphones, speakers, and cameras work. Let them know about any known compatibility issues, too. Does this work on a Mac? Are there certain browsers that it doesn’t work with?

Forewarned is f0rearmed. Even indicating that it may not be straightforward is enough to get people to check.

Master the platform yourself

The better you know the platform yourself, the better you’ll be able to help those in need. Get to know it inside and out. No matter how simple it seems, someone is going to run into trouble. It’ll speed things up if can lend a hand.

This will come naturally if you’re a power-user, but it also makes sense to check out the help centres and support provided by the service provider, too. It always helps to be able to point new users to an article that solves their problem.

Make it easy to use in boardrooms

Much of the above covers browser-based meetings, but what about boardroom video systems? These often start late too. And people battling tech is to blame. How do you make it easier here? Luckily, cloud video platforms have made this much simpler in general. Once-complicated dial strings are now only seven digits. That certainly helps speed things up. But it gets easier.

Some platforms offer dial-out. Picture this – at the prescribed time, an administrator dials out to all invited participants. Participants either answer the call, or else have their device set to auto-answer and are automatically connected. Meetings begin right on time, every time.

To sum up: make meeting simple to join

Meetings start late because they are often tricky to join. Make it easier:

  • Use a platform that does not require downloads or installations
  • Tell your invitees what to expect ahead of a call
  • Get to know the platform well yourself
  • Take advantage of dial-out features for room systems

Video conferencing is a powerful tool for both collaboration and sales – when it works. Do your part as an organizer to make a call connect and go smoothly. It’ll pay off, and will save some time and frustration in the process.

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