Wednesday, March 24, 2010

13 Tips for a Board of Directors Meeting via Webinar

Today was my first Board of Directors meeting via webinar, with 53 present. Specifically used GoToWebinar with the conference call dial-in option. There is option for headset or speaker access but that seemed way too advanced.

13 tips:

1. Do a practice webinar meeting in advance with your President. You need to know what you're doing, but so does the person presiding at that online meeting. Also good to practice with another staff participating too so that person can keep track of details, along with knowing how to find answers during the meeting, if necessary.

2. Keep the setting that reminds attendees by email the meeting will start in an hour.

3. As mentioned before, be sure to give many instructions in advance, including how to get help if they can't login. My advance email to participants, and the meeting materials, explained how it would work (e.g., "for each action, there will a motion by the President Elect, then a second by the First Vice President, then you need to push the button to raise a hand if you'd like to comment or make an amendment and wait until you're called, then you'll vote online by a poll feature".) And: if they have trouble, explain where to call or email - and be sure to have staff available to help. Be sure to let them know (in advance materials and on the screen they see why they wait) that they do not need to announce they have arrived because the system records their names.

4. Remind attendees to not put smart phones near their computers and phone lines, and to turn off television and radios. Can cause static and sounds. In addition to reminding them not to put the call on hold or to talk to others during the call. One time on a conference call (for another organization) there was a dog barking with 100 on the line. Mine. So maybe mention the dog too? There are mute features to turn off the sound for anyone but the presenter, that may be worth using before opening lines during discussion period.

5. Set your poll (vote) questions up in advance, but be prepared for new ones (such as amendments). Be sure to learn the "share" feature so everyone can see the results.

6. Tell your non-voting members what to do during the vote ("poll"). I didn't so a few started to click "abstain" (one of my poll choices). Next time will say, if you don't have a vote, don't vote on action items.

7. Announce how long they will have to vote in the poll. I said 45 seconds. 30 seconds would have been plenty.

8. See what you can't see. Next time I'm setting up a second screen to run a user session simultaneously to my own presenter session. I could not tell what the attendees were seeing on their screens because I had way more on my screen than just the presentation itself.

9. Turn off IM, Tweetdeck, anything else that's open on your computer. If you multi-task (like me) up to the minute you start the meeting you might forget something is still open. And you never know whose IM might appear.

10. Ask if the webinar meeting was a good idea or not. At the end of the meeting, the President had me send a poll question asking attendees if it was a good option, or not. It's good to ask and get the immediate feedback, before they leave the webinar. (By the way, overwhelmingly positive response.)

11. Check out the attendee report after the webinar. Will show you how long each attendee was on the webinar and how each individual voted on each poll question. Very handy backup.

12. Learn, then take the next steps. My president and I have already decided we want to learn the more advanced features - such as turning the presenter control from one person to another; and using web cameras for the key presenters.

13. Do you need the beep, beep, beep. With 53 joining the call it's actually really, really noisy as they come and go. If it's an option, consider removing the beep alerts. I had asked attendees in the instructions to hang up versus putting the call on hold. The bad news: beep when they leave, beep when they return.

GoToWebinar has many resources, and a very speedy Twitter person who instantly offered assistance when I mentioned trying it online.

Any tip I may have missed?

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