Monday, July 27, 2009

Taking Questions from the Crowd

I was just on a webinar that included 110 people. When questions were opened to the attendees there was a choice of either asking a question via chat, or saying it into the phone. Leaving phone lines open for 110 people meant we also heard dogs barking, phones ringing, people being greeted, and lots of coughing.

When taking questions from the crowd on a webinar, I believe all should have to submit questions via chat, submit questions in advance, or some method where a question can be asked without 110 phone lines open "for sound". It was remarkably difficult to hear until they muted all the lines to hear the answer.

The same is true with live forums involving larger groups. When the floor is open for anyone to ask anything 3 things are nearly always guaranteed to happen: a) a huge amount of time spent with people giving random thoughts on any topic whatsoever (may not even involve a question)- which frankly can waste everyone's time; b) an emcee might be running around the room with a microphone which also takes a huge amount of time with everyone watching the person run around; c) those in the audience start yelling out questions thinking they are "loud enough" (when they aren't) and everyone sits staring and not hearing the question, which then has to be repeated. Or not repeated, then attendees in the back start openly yelling "use the mike, use the mike, repeat the question, repeat the question."

The better way to handle crowd questions, in my opinion:

1. Distribute index cards and have someone other than the main emcee collect them during the presentation and during question/answer period;
2. Set up microphones and require all to go to them. Instruct at the start of the Q&A that time is for questions, and to please refrain from additional comments not directly related to the topic;
3. If webinar, as mentioned above, require use of submitted questions, chat, or a service feature that blocks out any sounds other than the phone line of the person notifying that he/she wants to ask a voice question on an individual line.

And I've already blogged about my personal pet peeve on any conference call: no talking about the weather when you're using other people's business time. Start the call, conference or webinar on time without extraneous openings or time-wasters.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Awkward Social Media Moment: My Un-Friend

Facebook suggested a friend for me today, complete with picture of a colleague. Furrowing my brow, I thought it weird as we're already Facebook Friends. OR SO I THOUGHT. Checked my Friends list: Gone. This could mean: Un-Friended! So then comes the awkward social media moment:

1. Do I send a Facebook message and ask what's up with this directly?
2. Do I just glare at him from afar at conferences knowing he's a new Un-Friend?
3. Do I pull a grade-school move and have someone snoop around about it?
4. Should I introduce him as my UFF (Un-Friend Forever) at business events? You know, the social media version of having an "Ex".

My daughter who was forced to listen to my Facebook tale of woe tells me she's been re-friended because friends have had their sites hacked and then needed to start all over again. So maybe that's it.

I recently read an article about how "painful" the Facebook "Friend Suggestions" can be as they sometimes pull up the last person someone wants to see - like a stalker, or the person who broke up their marriage, or someone they seriously dislike. And there are surely people on any given list who you wouldn't mind Un-Friending you (at all) ...

Does social media now create new awkward relationships? Should I print out the list of my Facebook Friends so I can start sadly drawing red X's through their pictures if they leave me? [Note: I don't think the Un-Friend thing should matter at all if you don't actually know the "Friend" in real life.]

So, for those who keep me, thanks so much for being my Friend. I'd notice if you were gone.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Reconnecting with Meeting Invitees who Declined

As mentioned before, I really love the FREE online program MeetingWizard. Use it to identify meeting dates that could work for a group, to confirm meetings, create attendance rosters, and more. One feature it has is sending a meeting reminder to attendees. What I didn't realize until this week is that it also sends an email to those who indicated they could not attend. Here's the text:

"This is an automated reminder for the following meeting event: [details listed]

You have indicated that you are unavailable for this meeting event. If you wish to change your response, please e-mail the organizer. You may view more details by clicking the following link: [link to original meeting notice.]"

As a result, three people who had initially indicated conflicts with meetings this week responded their plans changed and emailed they can now attend.

In the past I've assumed if someone says they can't attend that it made sense to stop sending meeting reminders. It may make sense to check in with those indicating they can't attend a meeting with their own special message 2-3 days before the meeting, like MeetingWizard. I don't think sending the same message to all attendees is as effective as this.

Monday, July 20, 2009

6 Random Career Tips

Ripped these out of a magazine I brought on a flight - Marie Claire (July 2009)

Tips for Personal Business Cards (by Leslie Barrie):

1. Use your last job title. Never anything "cutsie" like Chief Idea Officer.
2. Don't list more than one phone number.
3. Stick with simple cards. But not the free ones that give away they're free.

Don't Twitter Yourself Out of a Job (by Mina Shaghaghi):

1. Keep your politics private.
2. Never Twitter or update a status to criticize your job.
3. If not part of your job, only Twitter at lunch. Work ethic might be questioned with frequent updates during workday.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Example of small thing that makes difference

Noticed an association keeps their extra rolls of toilet paper stacked in a fabric-lined basket. Looks much better than just leaving a stack of rolls visible in its original plastic wrap (like my association.)

Small things can make a difference.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Um, because we don't have weekend, holiday, evening hours

For the second time in 10 days I've noticed members using social media to solve problems or answer other user questions because our office is closed. One wanted to know if system was down on a holiday (and asked other Facebook users who immediately responded it was up); another didn't know how to get access when device lost (including #$% symbols about it on Twitter) - and got a fast answer from another member .... on a Sunday.

1. If the association/office help-desk isn't open on weekends, holidays and evenings - how do we expect users to get answers on weekends, holidays and evenings? The website may have FAQ section and training videos, but user may be on Blackberry or other device not wanting to fumble with site; or the site may not feature a perceived immediate problem. Such as, is the program having a problem?

2. Asking the crowd is new way for answers on everything from what restaraunt should I go to though what the (expletive) is wrong with my association's program. How much do YOU love going to any site or manual to find an answer to an immediate problem versus seeing if you can find anyone quickly who can just answer it?

3. If users are helping each other, it's a good thing. Well, unless they give the wrong answer ... or unless it stirs up trouble when no real problem. But if I'm not there on the sites (nor any other staff person) when this is happening, at a minimum it's worth thanking those who are trying to eliminate frustrations for others by giving assistance via social media.

4. Those who aren't our members on these sites get to find out about the problems (or perceived problems) too. Love it or hate it, there's no denying that your association and its programs will be discussed on social media - and the sphere is not just other members.

Note to self: You can't control this.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Reality TV: Your Association

At a recent meeting a woman was talking about her "brilliant and innovative" association executive ... so I was all ears ... And turns out she was talking about my pal Carol Van Gorp. Because ...

Carol has her 600-member association on "TV" ... Specifically:

1. Bought the domain name with her association acronym and extension .tv
2. Signed up for free video-service Ustream
3. Purchased a $350 Sony Handycam (because digital cameras don't live stream well)
4. Started live-streaming association meetings, info and courses

Then I found an article about it, and Carol is quoted: “no matter what fabulous program the association offered live, members said they’re too busy, there’s too much traffic, too much something to attend. So now we take our association to their desktop.” The service also enables the association to password-protect content and saves a copy of the live broadcast to be viewed later.

Results included converting some online watchers to live meeting participants; and having much larger numbers see association programming and discussions.

Remember, this is a small association doing this with a $350 camera! Reality TV, association style.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

10 Tips for Older Job Applicants

Well it's fairly shocking the definition of "older" as it relates to employment ... and recent news articles have stories (and comments sections) with tips for "older" job applicants embedded in them ... Including these 10 tips:

1. Delete year of college graduation from resume
2. Reduce number of years resume covers
3. Switch from a mainly chronological/experience resume to one with heavy focus on skills
4. If downsizing position - remove awards and advanced degree/s (i.e., reduce it reading "you're way overqualified")
5. Know latest software programs, technologies and social networking
6. Include Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook on resume ... and use them
7. Have gmail domain - apparently it's more "modern" than AOL
8. Focus on recent accomplishments in interviews - not what you accomplished a long time ago
9. Networking is crucial - consider everyone a contact (in one article - the dog-walker knew of job)
10. (Hate these ... but ... ) ... hair dye, Botox, how you dress ... yes, those apparently on the list ...

And all who are employed should be really, really grateful for the opportunity to work.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Three decades ago? Yikes.

Something happened today that made me feel old: the Sony Walkman turned 30. I think I can mark time by what technology I was using ..... my Smith Corona typewriter with the correctable cartridge, FORTRAN (IF THEN GO TO) and the Walkman in college ... Wang with Lotus 1-2-3 and my very first so-called "portable" Mac (a carrying case does not mean easy to carry) in the early eighties at NAR ... the exciting moments of explaining how to put thermal paper in a dumb terminal for electronic communication in the mid-eighties (yes, I was your first online MLS instructor) ... and on and on ... and on.

Happy birthday, Sony Walkman. You make me feel old.