Migrating from conference calls to Skype

I’ve recently journeyed with a group of 12 leaders transitioning from a model of meeting over conference calls, to meeting over Skype.

Here a few learnings.

  • Group Chat – It’s very powerful that anybody can say anything at any time without interrupting the main conversation.  This can range from something as simple as “I agree with Tony’s point” to “@melinda, please go on mute” to “I have some reservations about this, could I have a chance to push back?”  This allows for engagement of the entire group without high overhead and actually helps me pay better attention.
  • Private Chat – I’ve found I’m frequently dialoguing privately with other team members on the call.  It might be a point of encouragement, a point of clarification or help with a technical issue or pointing them to some supporting information or documents.  This is really efficient because we don’t have to send emails outside the meeting or meet separately but instead can efficiently collaborate during the ebb and flow of the main meeting.
  • Document Collaboration – Everyone being online has drastically increased our use of  collaborative document sharing.  Documents are being massaged, discussed and refined all in real-time during our calls.  Everyone on the call can also see the agenda and the action points being captured.  It’s pretty clear what people are committing to do.

Of course there have been struggles.  Helping people know where the mute button is, how to initiate a call, how to locate the chat window etc… Despite this, I think this medium is helping us be more effective at making solid decision making and doing what we say we will do.

What have you learned as you’ve moved towards more collaborative methods of having virtual meetings?

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3 thoughts on “Migrating from conference calls to Skype

  1. Good thoughts Russ.. thanks for sharing.

    Question – how do you handle multiple people (more than 10) effectively on Skype? I find with more the connections keep dropping and/or people fade in/out and miss parts of the call.

    Also, can you share how you lead a call and manage the private conversations simultaneously? that one’s still got me.

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    1. Hi Susan, I’ve found that as long as someone with a “good” computer initiates the call it’s usually pretty good. Making sure people put themselves on mute is also key to keeping good connectivity and avoiding feedback. A good best practice is to have someone in charge of initiating/maintaining the call that can easily add anyone back in that might get dropped.

      It’s a bit tricky to be leading and chatting. That doesn’t work as well as a leader, although can be done if other people are doing most of the talking during some part of the meeting. A best practice is to have someone assigned to monitor the public chat, so that the leader doesn’t also have to try and manage that.

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