Virtual Board Meetings – technology tips!

Video conferencing technology has become incredibly popular this year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, helping many businesses to continue to work despite millions of people being ‘out of office’. Back in April 2020, Microsoft Teams reported that their daily users increased by 31 million in just over a month, and between March and June 2020, the Zoom app was downloaded over 300 million times. However, though the majority of us have at least a passing familiarity with virtual meetings, it is a bit of a leap from an informal family catch up or virtual pub quiz to the formality and structure of a virtual business meeting, so here are our top technological tips to help make your meeting as successful and straightforward as possible!

Virtual Meetings
Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash
  • Email in advance, and send out reminders just before the event. Send out invitations to your meeting and include clear joining instructions, in advance of the meeting. Make sure that the agenda is also provided, along with any documentation that the attendees need to have looked at prior to the meeting too. If the information is confidential, make sure that it is password protected or shared via a secure portal. It’s also helpful to send out reminders with joining instructions the day before (and sometimes an hour before) the actual event.
  • Offer attendees the opportunity to attend a practice meeting – If any of your attendees haven’t used your chosen virtual meeting platform before, why not set up a test meeting for them to attend? This ‘tech check’ could cover the basic functionality of the tool (i.e. making sure that the microphone is attached and learning how to mute yourself, etc.), and may prove particularly useful for those individuals who need to deliver a presentation during the meeting too. If they are delivering a presentation, it’s important that they have the ability to share their screen and that they then have confidence to do this live on the day. If you are using Zoom as your video conferencing tool, you could also mention in your joining instructions that attendees can join test webinars themselves, prior to the event, via the webpage: https://zoom.us/test
  • Make sure everyone is using the latest version of the video conferencing software, if appropriate! If your meeting attendees have got video conferencing software downloaded on their computers or phones, ask them to make sure that it is the latest version so that they don’t have to update it as the meeting is beginning! Gently encourage users to test the platform in advance so that the meeting can start promptly and with minimal technical issues.
  • Consider whether audio only is more appropriate – Audio-only calls are recommended over video-conferencing for large meetings, as it may be impractical to have everyone on camera, particularly if some users are calling in from locations where the background is a little distracting. In addition, audio is often more reliable than video, as a fast and stable internet connection is required for virtual meetings with video. If the connection is unstable, the video/sound could freeze or even drop out.
  • Maintain privacy – if you don’t require all attendees to join at the very beginning of the call and remain online throughout the meeting, send out invitations to attendees that give an approximate time for them to join the meeting. Some video conferencing tools, like Zoom, have a waiting area so that attendees can be granted access by the host when appropriate, which can help with privacy. In addition to this, make sure that you don’t widely publicise the link for the meeting and also make use of the password feature, if the tool has one, to prevent uninvited attendees from jumping knowingly, or unknowingly onto the call at the ‘wrong’ moment!
  • Have IT support available – and make a back-up plan! Even if you have meticulously planned your meeting, it’s important to have IT support on standby throughout the meeting so that you can get prompt assistance with any technical issues. It’s also important to have a clear back up plan so that if the call is disrupted by technical issues (i.e. such as poor audio or video quality) that the meeting can either be temporarily postponed and rescheduled, or that an alternative technological solution can be used.

Virtual business meetings are a great way of bringing key stakeholders together, regardless of geographical location or local lockdowns, but the same levels of careful planning and preparation that you would dedicate to an in-person meeting are required to ensure that a virtual event is as successful and productive as possible.

 

 

Happy New Year from Your Executive Secretary

Happy New Year.

In the coming weeks, I will be attending a couple of local Networking Events in Bournemouth and Poole, Dorset; where I have been asked to share some administration good practices to help Small Business Owners achieve their 2014 goals.

What ideas and goals do you plan to achieve in 2014?
What ideas and goals do you plan to achieve in 2014?

Please come and tell me your goals / plans for 2014 on either my Facebook Page, Twitter or in the Comments Section below – I might be able to share some tips to help you too.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best Wishes and Good Luck for achieving those goals

Amanda

Virtual Assistant Dorset: Your Executive Secretary Whiteboard Animation

At the Your Executive Secretary HQ, I am always on the lookout for new ways of marketing the business – I know the importance of video but didn’t feel comfortable enough to film myself talking about the services we provide.  So I thought a whiteboard animation might be a good way of showing you how a Virtual Assistant based in Dorset, can assist your business.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RMa41kv438

Please let me know in the comments section below, your thoughts on our whiteboard animation and of any innovative ideas you have for marketing your business.

Your Executive Secretary Moves House – 10 Useful Hints and Tips for Moving House

Ten Useful Things to help you Move House.

As many know from a previous blog entry Your Executive Secretary Moves House again this month.  When

Y.E.S. Moving House
Your Executive Secretary Moves House – 10 Useful Hints and Tips

the family and I returned from Belgium in Sep 12, we moved into temporary housing while we (well the Builders) renovated our new home and more importantly the Your Executive Secretary Office.  Although the office renovations are complete, there are still 16 weeks worth of work to be done on the house.  BUT we have to be out of the temporary housing this week.  So our effects are being packed up and going into storage and we are going to the Mother in Laws (Jacqueline, if you are reading this – thank you for having us).

So why am I writing a blog about this – well I thought I would discuss the organisational skills needed to pack up your house, and here are 10 useful hints and tips for moving house.  Anyone that knows me will say I am a bit of a control freak and will therefore chuckle at some of the points below.  You would also think that that since this is our third move in less than 12 months, I would be pretty good at this moving lark!

Do things early.  Where possible plan to do as much as possible as early as possible. Something will always crop up as the last minute so give yourself time to deal with these issues.

Sort, Sort and Sort again.  Sort through all of your belongings – have spaces allocated to put things while sorting.  Put things to keep / store / go to the Charity Shop / Items to Sell or Recycle / or Throw away.  Do this task before you move – don’t pack it and think you will sort it once you have arrived at the new property.

Packing.  You may decide that you would like the removal company to pack your things for you. They will provide all the packing materials and ensure that all breakables and valuables are packed and stored safely and correctly. If you’re going to pack yourself, there are a several things you will need to do, such as:

Y.E.S. Moving House
Your Executive Secretary Moves House – Third time in 12 months
  • Ensuring that you obtain strong boxes.
  • Making sure you have enough packing tape and several thick black marker pens (this makes labelling boxes easy and visible, especially if you are storing goods and might need to access them)
  • Making a list of all your boxes and their contents, either in a numerical order or by room (this makes it much easier to locate items you might need whilst the boxes are in storage)
  • Avoiding making boxes too heavy, as you might have to carry them yourself
  • Dis-assemble larger pieces of furniture (they will take up less space and make transportation easier)
  • Protecting any polished surfaces with blankets or some sort of protective layer
  • Making sure breakables, such as china and glass, are wrapped individually in paper or bubble wrap
  • Consider using bedding and linen to pack items that require extra protection
  • Packing books and magazines in smaller boxes as, collectively, they can be very heavy
  • Storing televisions, audio equipment and computers in their original boxes (if you have them), otherwise bubble wrap is the next best alternative
  • Preparing white goods by emptying, defrosting (if required) and cleaning them (store them with their doors open to prevent mould)
  • If having to put things in storage (as we are doing) check with your storage company about items they do not allow for storage (perishable goods, inflammable items, chemicals, etc.

Label Boxes (and even colour code them).  If you are doing your own packing, label your boxes with the room you want the box put into in the new location.  You could do this by either writing the room name / number on them or even colour coding the labels on the boxes (and draw up a plan of the new house and colour code the locations so that the boxes get delivered to the right room).  This is especially useful if you are having friends/family or even expert removal firms moving your boxes.

Label Boxes Sensibly.  If possible, put only one type of thing in each box, or one location in each box (ie bathroom cabinet contents / kitchen crockery etc) so that if you cannot unpack everything straightaway you can at least put your hand to the right box, should you need to find something quickly.  I always label a box with the room name and the box contents.

Seek Help.  Try not to do everything yourself, it could save your body and your sanity!

Prepare a Box of Tools and Cleaning Products.   Have a box of common used tools and cleaning products.  When dismantling furniture, put the nuts / bolts / screws into a poly bag and then into one box so that when you arrive at the new house, you can put the furniture together easily and you are not searching for the nuts / bolts / screws to do it.  I always move this box in the car and then I know where the bits are.  Also have a box of cleaning products available, so that prior to leaving the house, you can give it a deep clean (and should you need to clean the house you are moving into you have the products to hand).  I also include toilet rolls and light bulbs, having previously moved into a house where both of these items had been taken by the previous occupants.

Prepare a box of Food.  By this, I mean have all of the ingredients available to look after the people who are moving you, be that friends, family or professional movers.  I try to do bacon sarnies before we start the actual move, an then ensure we have plenty of tea/coffee/cold drinks/cake and biscuits available.  Some people arescared that if they do this, their movers will be slack, I have always found the opposite to be true.  By looking after the movers they will often go the extra mile in helping you move.

Lists.   I am a list person and strongly believe in the utility of a good list.  In the case of this move, I have lists for the following:

  • Items to move to the new office.
  • Items to move into storage.
  • Items to move into the Mother in Laws house.
  • Change of Addresses to be written.
  • List of meter readings to be taken.
  • A still to be done list!

Keep Smiling.  Moving is a stressful occasion but remember to smile and you will get through it.  I appreciate that this is easier said than done.