3 Virtual Event Planning To-Don’ts

3 Virtual Event Planning To-Don’ts

In previous blog posts, we’ve talked about how to build connections in meetings and virtual events and tips for fostering inclusion and collaboration in virtual meetings. These are all the “Dos” when it comes to virtual meetings, but what about the Don’ts? Here are some virtual event planning to-don’ts.

Virtual events offer some simplicity in terms of event planning – no venues to decide on, no locations to book or menus to prepare, no chairs or projectors to set up, no need to find the perfect room or town for all attendees to meet. But there are lots of practices and features you should avoid when planning your online event.

Choosing the Wrong Collaboration Tool

This may seem like a no-brainer, but many collaboration tools have features and parameters that are similar, but not identical. Take the time to compare more than just the prices of different tools and software. Here are some questions you should consider in your virtual event planning:

  •  Does this software have an attendee limit?
  • Does this software have easy-to-understand file-sharing and screen-sharing abilities?
  • Is using this software temporary? Are you planning for your team to use this software occasionally or will it be replacing daily in-person meetings?
  • Does the collaboration tool provide security that is up to your company’s standards or specifications?
  • Does this software integrate with other software your company uses?
  • Does this software offer easy access fro my audience?

The answers to these and other questions are things you don’t want to overlook in your search for a virtual event planning tool or software.

Overcomplicating Things

Virtual event apps and collaboration software give you hundreds of solutions at your fingertips. But, as with tech solutions and Jurassic Park – just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Hosting a successful virtual event – from a quick weekly team meeting to an industry-specific annual conference – means you need to emphasize the essential information and scale back on the extras.

Here’s an example. We’ve all been in a meeting with one of those PowerPoint presentations. You know the ones: where every single sentence and bullet point entrance and exit is animated. Slides that include cluttered collages of photos, text, or graphics – or slides that include one sentence at a time.

Finding a happy medium between “informative” and “overwhelming” is important not only for the success of your online event but also for the retention and value your attendees will walk away with.

The same can be said about the rest of your presentation, less can be so much more. Do not overextend the time to cram an extraordinary amount of information into the session. For example, you could consider doing a series to ensure you get all information across to your audience without overloading them with information or expecting your audience to sit through a 3hr presentation. This can assist in the retention of the information and better engagement from your audience.

Choosing the Wrong Presenters

The average American has an attention span of approximately eight seconds. That means you can lose your target audience very quickly if you choose the wrong meeting host, speaker, or presenter. 

Some of your best team members may be better at expressing themselves through email or short presentations. If this is true, the best thing you can do when planning your virtual event is to choose a speaker who is comfortable in front of the camera and confident in their public speaking abilities.

Tailoring virtual event roles to play to your participants’ strengths means your attendees are engaged for the full presentation and there aren’t any awkward silences or attention-pulling looks from your audience that can ruin the flow of a meeting or lecture.

MMITC Can Help You Avoid Virtual Event Planning To-Don’ts

Meet Me In The Cloud’s team of professional Producers are skilled in the production of flawless online events and will ensure your next highly visible online event meets business objectives. Explore our event assist services and training offerings.

Whether you need training and education, event assistance, or other collaboration-based support and service, contact us today.

How to Build Connections in Meetings and Virtual Events

How to Build Connections in Meetings and Virtual Events

Large, in-person gatherings have been discouraged for the better part of a year now, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t still craving those social and professional meetings and events. Check out these great tips to build connections in team meetings and virtual events.

Define the Purpose for Your Gathering

Whether you are talking to your professional team, small business employees, executives, or friends and family – the best way to encourage a good turnout for a virtual meeting is to define the purpose of the gathering. Is the gathering a virtual networking event? A holiday or anniversary party for your company? A monthly department or team meeting?

Clarifying an event’s purpose can also help get your participants excited or prepared for the virtual gathering.

When you define and share the purpose of your online event or meeting, you can then find the best tools (Zoom, Skype, Webex Teams, Microsoft Teams, etc.) to help you create an event that is true to it.

Create Context Using Everyone’s Virtual Environment

Now that you have your event or meeting purpose, you can use it to set the mood for preparations. If you are hosting your annual company dinner or having your end-of-the-year business meeting, you and your participants can create a collective environment using their displayed space in their home or remote office.

Put up lights, have everyone dress up (or down) in a certain theme – even if the theme is just “business casual.” For-end-of-the-year meetings or celebrations you can ask people to decorate their space to that theme, or hang a DIY poster of their greatest accomplishment this year, or have them share the importance or meaning of an item they keep in their remote workspace.

Adding these unifying touches helps your virtual audience “buy-in” to the atmosphere of the meeting or event.

Know Who’s in Charge

We’ve all been in a virtual meeting or party that feels disorganized or exclusionary. To fix this, make sure you have a clear “master of ceremonies.” That person should understand how to use the mute buttons, encourage feedback from different group members, and navigate dead spots in the presentation or event.

Remind people that they’re not alone, especially in larger events and meetings – schedule moments into the presentations for the entire audience to do or say something together. That thing may be some neck and shoulder stretches, recite a company mission statement, sing a song verse, or just let out a giant collective scream.

Create a Space for Collaboration

Technology is all about sharing – information, resources, that video of the guy drinking Ocean Spray and singing Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.” Why not create an in-meeting space that can allow for the same collaborative sharing?

In business events and meetings, you can create chat threads and share links to collaborative documents to encourage engagement. And for fun events, you can play games, create and share polls, videos, or memes in real-time. 

Build Connections – Plan Your Event, Train Your Team, and More

Need help organizing or educating your global team? Switching to a better collaboration tool? Throwing a virtual NYE bash? Meet Me In The Cloud is your go-to resource for white-glove support and training of collaboration services and tools and event assist services.

Whether you need training and education, event assistance, or other collaboration-based support and service, contact us today.

Remote Working Tips: Maintain Productivity and Avoid Burnout

Remote Working Tips: Maintain Productivity and Avoid Burnout

Millions of global workers pivoted almost overnight to remote work strategies. The coronavirus has scattered your teams, and many of us spent the last several months adjusting to a new working-from-home lifestyle. Some things are working, some things aren’t. It happens – we can’t all be 100% productive and engaged every moment of our workday. But we can implement some effective remote working tips to help you stay focused, productive, and confident throughout your day.

Remote Working Tips for Maintaining Productivity

Your office is gone, and after months of trial and error concerning how and where to set up your workspace at home, when to work, you’ve got a workable system in place. Now that you’re used to this new normal, are there ways you can organize or optimize your space or process?

Recognize and Limit Distractions

One of the biggest pitfalls of working from home is that you don’t have to wait to get off work and go home to start doing those chores and other tasks that need to be done because they’re already in front of you.

There are ways to work around these distractions, though. Firstly, if you have a quick project that can be done during a quick break from work, you should do it. But be careful not to start a bigger project if you won’t have time to finish it during your break. Switch over that load of laundry, load the dishwasher, vacuum the hallway, let the dog out. But save the closet reorganization and leaf-raking for after work.

Refine Communication Parameters

Hopefully, you and your coworkers, employees, and supervisors have a system already in place for how often everyone should be checking in and reporting progress or issues. Take some time now to reevaluate these systems – do they still make sense? Is 8 a.m. still the best time for that team meeting? Would your team benefit from implementing a chat-based system for quick or urgent issues, rather than sending these updates through email? Refine and refresh those communication channels to work better for you.

Don’t Forget about the Home Team

When you are working in a physical office location, it’s easy to tune into the workday, as everyone is on the same page. But when your office is inside the family home? Not everyone is on the same wavelength.

It’s important to talk to your family or roommates and set ground rules for what is and isn’t ok. Just because you are working from home doesn’t mean you will automatically be doing your domestic duties (making lunch or dinner, cleaning, watching/playing with the kids). It’s also a good idea to set boundaries regarding noise and room use so your board meeting isn’t interrupted by something like this, or worse.

Remote Working Tips for Avoiding Burnout

The other side of the productivity coin is burnout. When working from home, many people often find they work more – checking emails after hours or responding to requests and emails when technically off-the-clock. Let’s talk about a few ways to help maintain work-life harmony and avoid burnout.

Maintain Boundaries to Separate Work and Home

Typically, the boundaries between work and home are clear. You put on your work clothes, and walk, drive, or take the train to the office. With these physical barriers gone, it’s easy for your work and home roles to start bleeding together.

One easy and effective way to separate them in a remote work environment is to ditch those work PJs for a more professional outfit. As simple as it sounds, this exercise keeps your brain keyed into the differences between on-the-clock and off-the-clock time.

Another good way to start your day is by turning your “commute” into a short walk. You can walk up and down your street, around the block, to a nearby park, or even just around your apartment or building.

Budget Your Time Wisely

Don’t forget about budgeting your time and maintaining boundaries in your work blocks as well. For many, the traditional 9-5 workday may not be realistic right now, especially with many employees taking care of children or elderly family members, and running errands for those who are more vulnerable to illness.

Make sure you have open lines of communication that clearly describe your team members’ work schedules and upcoming changes to them. (Did your child’s school recently shift to online? Do you have a doctor’s appointment or other personal meeting coming up?)

Recognize and Accommodate Your Natural Work Rhythms

Many sources advocate for working in a top-down fashion when it comes to project priority, that you should do the most important task first, and leave the busy work for later.

However, if you are fresher and more focused after a few cups of coffee, try starting your morning with a less-involved task and then saving your big-brain projects for late morning or early afternoon.

This can help you maintain momentum throughout your day rather than being overcome by an ebb in your workday energy and spending minutes or hours trying to refocus and get back on track.

Let Us Lead You to Remote Work Success

Need help organizing or educating your global team? Switching to a better collaboration tool? Meet Me In The Cloud is your go-to resource for white-glove support and training of collaboration services and tools.

Whether you need training and education, event assistance, or other collaboration-based support and service, contact us today.

4 Tips for Leveraging Microsoft Teams for Collaboration

4 Tips for Leveraging Microsoft Teams for Collaboration

There are dozens of top-tier collaboration tools and applications, like Microsoft Teams, that promise to boost collaboration and efficiency in your workplace. But what are the benefits of Microsoft Teams? And how can we leverage its functionality to enhance collaboration on a daily basis?

Here are some benefits and tips for leveraging Microsoft Teams for your collaboration needs.

Benefits of Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is integrated with Office 365, which means more opportunities for collaboration, storage, and file sharing. There are many benefits to using MS Teams for employee collaboration.

The chat functionality within MS Teams is a big benefit. Teams lets you have threaded conversations in real-time, which allows you to see all conversations within a team in one place, but in a way that makes it easy for participants to understand and peruse through all the information.

As Microsoft Office and Office 365 products are some of the most widely used tools in the professional landscape, Teams carries the added benefit of seamless integration with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, Planner, Sharepoint, and more.

Another great benefit is that MS Teams has a high degree of customization as well as the ability to integrate with third parties. “For example, the marketing team would be able to receive updates from Twitter which would be just as important to them as updates from your CMO,” says this article from Advantage.  

Tips for MS Teams Use

Assign Tags

Rather than creating contact groups to send messages, MS Teams lets you create tags for contacts, which then allows you to select a tag to send a message to all those with that tag.

Make the Most of Your Chats

The chat window is dynamic, so you can attach files or photos, call or video call, and access information from OneNote and Office apps. Integrating your experience and training your employees to use these advanced features can streamline communication, saving time and money.

Optimize Meetings

In the same way that WS Teams creates a dynamic chat experience, the same can be true for collaborative meetings. After creating the meeting in-platform, you can send chats to participants, share files, create to-do items and lists, and keep track of meeting notes (before, during, and after).

You even have the option to record team meetings and group calls (audio, video and screen sharing), so long as all users have access to Microsoft Stream, which you can check using this step-by-step process.

Browse, Add, and Pin Apps

Many of your favorite apps can be used within the Microsoft Teams platform, so another way to achieve full integration is to check out those app offerings and add relevant and helpful apps to your platform and pin then to the left-hand rail.

Accelerate Adoption and Utilization

Meet Me In The Cloud is dedicated to helping your company reach increased tool utilization and improved employee efficiency and satisfaction.

Meet Me In The Cloud is a global leader in collaboration adoption services and scalable solutions that help organizations compete, grow, and succeed in an accelerating world. Questions? Contact us today.

Are You Sure You’re Secure? 7 Tips to Check Your Work-From-Home Cyber Security

Are You Sure You’re Secure? 7 Tips to Check Your Work-From-Home Cyber Security

In this “Flatten The Curve” blog series, we’ve told you about our 8 Tips for Working From Home and in our latest blog, we discussed preparing your work-from-home workspace with 5 easy tips. One of the tips on that blog was a suggestion to keep your network clean, and we want to make sure you know more of the top 7 aspects of making sure you are continuing to do business securely!

 

1. Ensure Your WiFi Connection Is Secure

Most Wi-Fi is secure by default, but if you have an older system, then it might not be, which means anyone in your neighborhood or apartment complex can see what you’re up to! Make sure your connection is secure before doing business. And by all means, avoid public Wi-Fi. If you have to work away from your home network, use a personal hotspot or some other method to encrypt your web connection.

 

2. Check That Security Software Is Up To Date

Take a look at your anti-virus and check: Is it even installed? Is it actively functioning? Is it fully updated? In addition, take a look at your browsers and make sure that privacy tools and add-ons are working properly as well.

 

3. Have A Backup Strategy And Plan

Backup all your important files and customer data systematically. If your company were to be the victims of a cyber attack, all data could be lost without a backup. Because of this, you need to create a plan to backup – don’t just assume that you’ll remember to backup those files: schedule the backup on your calendar so you won’t forget!

 

4. Secure Your Device

Even if it’s just your kids running around your house, lock your screen if you work in a space where others can access your device. Set an automatic timeout in case you are called away from your desk and don’t have a chance to lock your screen.

 

5. Create a Robust Passphrase

A strong password can be one of your best allies in work-from-home cyber security. Using a robust password makes it much more difficult for a hacker to get into your company’s system. They must be over eight characters long and use both upper and lowercase letters as well as numbers and symbols. The longer… the better. Best practice is to make passwords up to 64 characters.

 

6. Utilize Two-Factor Authentication

Most companies have already implemented two-factor authentication (i.e. when users must confirm their identity with a code sent to their mobile device after having used their username and password), but if your company doesn’t already, now is the time to get on board! Two-factor (or multi-factor) authentication makes it extra difficult for an attacker to access company data.

 

7. Update Employee Information Security Policies

Since many of your employees are now using personal devices to communicate and work, updating your information security policies can help protect you against their violations. Help employees be aware that they cannot use their personal email for company purposes, sync client information to a personal cloud account, use social media to discuss the company’s business, etc.

 

And there you have it! 7 quick fixes to your work-from-home cyber security that could save your team a lot of heartache in the long run! Please feel free to reach out to us and we can help you and your team create a more secure work-from-home experience!

 

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