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When starting a business or running a small business money is an object. How to allocate it and how to gain the best return on each dollar spent. One looks in greater detail as far as what technology that can do multiple tasks and can be easily adopted and grow cost effectively and easily. Long gone are individual services for ERP, another for CRM, another for Billing/Booking and yet another for service and support for the start up and small business owner. Most providers of cloud based services have bundled these together in one single service. Brilliant!

Travel and Your People: The cost of travel whether via train, plain or automobile can be cost prohibative especially for the small business and start up. Not only that but loss in productivity (time out of the office) can be crippling for a business. Video conferencing services provide face to face access to "your people". The ability to communicate with not only your distributed teams (your people) but with your customers, resellers and dealers as well as your other partners. 

The Cost: Video Conferencing long thought of as expensive, and something for the boardroom executive and far too difficult to use has vastly changed. Whereas we spoke of cross platform collaboration (between different services eg. Skype and Lync) we are now expecting it. Long ago discussions of "do you have something we can use on our tablet?" have also ended as this is a standard feature. In fact the majority of web and video conferences happened in 2015 via tablets and mobile devices like your smart phone with prices in the tens of dollars per month not tens of thousands of dollars in upfront hardware purchases. Free services like that of #VisipleFree and FaceTime allow one to one video conversations free! For several users in a meeting #VisiplePro is one of many easy to use services. These start at about $25 a month.

With greater interest in video conferencing I have a few best practice #tips. As we become more and more adept at using video conferencing there are less and less pitfalls to having a great video experience without the need to call in IT!

  • Camera Selfie: All too often I meet people´s forehead, chin or the ceiling light. Set up your video meeting, do not invite anyone but view yourself to see where you are positioned. Adjust the camera so that you see your entire face. Rule of thumb: Take your own pre-video meeting video #selfie
  • Microphone: Use a hands-free device unless you have a very quiet room to work in. I suggest a decent set of ear buds connected to your device. Often bluetooth sets are not fully charged and the sound becomes "chippy". 
  • Microphone & Voice: Often meetings start with someone yelling or or whispering. Speak as you normally would. If you have to whisper it may be better that you find a little nook, cranny or private room in your office or coworking space. Yelling- still have not understood that one yet. 
  • Connect a Few Minutes Early: I always suggest to start your meeting by jumping in a few minutes early. This allows a little time to get comfortable with the camera, sound and sitting still in this meeting. Nothing is worse than starting on time only to wait 15 minutes for others to fumble around with microphones, cameras and finding a quiet location. 
  • Interaction: Often video meetings become a web conference... Basically one person presents and the others are numbed into cyber coma. I always encourage interactivity with the other participants. The entire point of video conferencing is to simulate a true face to face meeting experience. Those not as experienced with video conferencing will feel as though they are put on the spot. So ask more general questions and encourage interactivity. I often start by asking "how are things with you and the kids?" to help it become mroe natural. 
  • Location / Setting: Most small businesses and start ups are in the garage, basement or living room. Find a location that has little people traffic, a space that provides a positive user experience, one that is not filled with 1000s of pages of notes sprawled all over the place. Cowork spaces often have fresh colors on the walls, they are inspiring and supportive of innovation and creativity. Plus for your very own sanity I suggest setting aside a work space at home that is different than the space you live in. This helps maintain the split between work and life. 

Old School: Often I read of (and have preached) focus on bandwidth, updating your settings and software, and recording yourself to train on how to have a video meeting for presentation purposes. In the reality of #Tech2016 there is ample bandwidth available to support a quality video meeting, software often is self-updating and in final be natural, be yourself. 

Video Conferencing is here to stay and is a great tool for business of all sizes and in all stages. 

 

Evan J. Andriopoulos is the CEO of Visiple a provider of innovative services helping businesses enjoy their meetings again. He loves business and technology innovation. He can be followed on TwitterMedium, and TheBlogSpace.