In this post I will cut straight to the chase and provide some of my experiences and advice on selecting and trialing online meeting spaces.
Let’s assume that you have now gathered interested members and have applied to ‘start a new online club’ and have a Toastmasters club number. Take a look at the new prospective clubs appearing in the Daily Reports for District U, at Dashboards at TI.
I will also assume that you have a small group with whom you can now trial an online meeting space. This will be essential when you start the trialing process. Ideally you will want to trial the space with your group of international prospective members.
Prepare your online spaces
Below is the list I used in my previous post for Step 2: Prepare your online spaces. The order in which you do these will vary according to your leadership style and the importance that each holds for the success of building a new online club. To this list I have now added WordPress and SnapChat and I have place the Selection of Online Meeting Space first.
- select your online meeting space eg: GoToMeeting; or Click Meeting; or Zoom
- create your club management ‘home base’ eg: easy-Speak or Free Toast Host or WordPress
- create your social media presence eg: Facebook Group or LinkedIn Group or SnapChat
- select a cloud storage system eg: One Drive; or Dropbox or Google Drive
Select your Online Meeting Space
Note: I will focus on Click Meeting for the examples used in this post.
You may have already compared the attributes and functionality of your selected web conferencing tool; if not try this link to Web Conferencing Reviews. Now its time to dig a little deeper. Select the tool of choice review page for further details and explanations of what it can do. Recommendation: view any videos provided on YouTube for overviews and demonstrations of the tool in action.
- Customisable layout for each meeting
- Advanced mobile tools for meetings on the go
- Re-brand to represent your organization
- Better communication with international clients eg uses Google Translate
- Easy to receive feedback from your participants
- Integrates with the services you already use
Trial your Online Meeting Space
Step 1: create a free account with your online meeting room provider. Each tool will step you through the process for doing that, and some do it better than others. Some provide useful videos on YouTube and websites for their community of users.
Step 2: try out the software on your own, to establish an overview of its functionality and any special features for which you will need to provide instructions.
Step 3: where possible, try setting up a meeting with one or two people in your prospective membership. This will give you and them opportunities to trial without pressure.
Step 4: when you have a good grasp of the software and know how to manage your account and invite guests, notify your group that you will be conducting a trial.
Step 5: send invites to each stating the date and time, at least a week prior. Provide them with the World Clock Time Conversion link so they may be sure of what time the trial will be for them. Specify the duration of the trial meeting and send a brief overview of the agenda or purpose of the trial.
If you have already set up your social media space, this will be a good place to promote the event. For example, if you have a Facebook Group or Page, post an invite or use the Event manager to notify your team. Be sure to include some instructions on how to join your meeting, what hardware they need and where to go for help. Let the trial team know what they should see on screen, if there is a ‘waiting room’, and what to do in case of technical issues. eg ClickMeeting provides a waiting room with automatic music whilst waiting for the host to open the meeting.
Step 6: Create an agenda for leading the participants through the trial meeting. You might include one or more of the following:
- showcase slide(s) that show the users how to participate in the space eg audio/video
- set greeting and speaking protocols eg. how not to speak over each other
- discuss the method of managing online meetings in the space eg special roles
- encourage participants to share in the inter-activities eg chat, share screen etc
- invite feedback from participants and record their comments eg copy chat text
- provide information about cost of upgrades and other services of the provider
Step 7: Send personal reminders to participants, with a direct link to the room, at least an hour prior. Specify any special requirements for participation. eg headset with microphone.
Step 8: Open your room about 15 minutes prior to start time and be sure to keep your Facebook Messenger or Email open for any last minute requests for help.
Finally conduct your trial and have fun while you are learning!
On completion of your Trial, send thank you messages to your group and ask for any further discussion about the Online Meeting Space. This could be done in the social media group you have already setup or sent by email.
Your careful attention to preparing your meeting space and collaborating with your trial team, will ensure greater success for your club when the meetings are finally scheduled and go live.