Archive for October, 2009

Since Time is Money, Let’s Shorten and Improve Meetings

Posted on October 25, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Meetings are often required to accomplish objectives and share information. Unfortunately every company I know has too many meetings lasting far longer than needed, and involve too many people. An employee’s time is expensive, perishable and non-replenishable. Wasted meeting time steals from the accomplishment of productive work, steals away time from family and friends, and steals from ourselves. If a meeting organizer is not careful a lot of valuable time can be wasted. Let’s convert time to money, examine the meeting cost, and provide tips on improving meetings to be more cost effective.

Recently a bank employee told me about his twice monthly face-to-face meetings downtown. Ten people are in the meetings, which last about 90 minutes. Seven of the ten people have to drive downtown to get to the meeting, averaging a 30 minute drive each way. Mileage and parking is reimbursed by the bank, and on average each person’s salary is $40/hour. Let’s determine the value of the time of these twice monthly meetings. Each meeting costs $600 in salary, $280 in travel time, and $266 in reimbursable mileage and parking. This is $1,146/meeting, or $2,292/month. Calculate the cost of all the team meetings within the bank each month and see how expensive meetings can be.

A good step in improving meetings is having a specific agenda and objective, assigning pre-meeting preparation tasks, and assigning action items and documenting decisions at the end. A 90 minute meeting should be shortened to 60 minutes, a 60 minute meeting shortened to 45 minutes, etc. Another improvement is to consider the participants in the meeting and only invite those that must attend. How often have you sat through a long meeting only to find that your participation was either not needed, or only needed for five minutes? Wouldn’t it be better if you were only brought in for your five minutes? Maybe the bank needs to have four people in their meetings instead of ten.

Eliminating or reducing travel will cut the cost of meetings. In the bank example, does each person really need to drive downtown twice a month? An audio conference call would save time and money. Each person could call in from their desk, resulting in no mileage or parking cost, and no lost productivity in driving. Unfortunately these calls don’t always help with saving meeting time. Everyone I know places audio conference calls on mute and multi-tasks, checks emails, etc. It becomes evident when a question is asked of a person on the audio call, and that person who wasn’t paying attention, asks for the question to be repeated. Audio conference calls are great for saving travel, but a lot of effort needs to be placed in making them time efficient and not drag on for hours.

At this point you may be thinking that face-to-face meetings have other benefits, such as helping a group of people feel like a team. Audio calls are just not as good as seeing the other people on the team. When you see the other people it serves to build a social connection, helps to establish better working relationships, and fosters a deeper sense of belonging to the group. Not to mention that when you see a person face-to-face it makes it obvious if someone is multitasking or not paying attention. These benefits are real, and it is the reason why the bank choses to hold face-to-face meetings instead of audio conference calls. However with the advent of desktop video conferencing services, businesses can conduct face-to-face meetings from the desktop without the travel.

Instead of an audio conference call for your meetings, try a video meeting. You will see the participants face-to-face, you will eliminate travel cost, and by seeing that everyone is paying attention you can keep meetings focused and short. After all, time is precious.

vonei web conferencing

Vonei LLC provides multi-user desktop video conferencing service. Free demos and trials of the service can be found at http://www.vonei.com

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Reduce business costs now with these 5 technologies

Posted on October 12, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

Today’s economy is forcing businesses of all sizes to examine every cost element and find ways to work at a lower cost. Not only is it imperative in 2009, but most businesses are starting their 2010 planning and need to identify cost savings to put into their budget. Fortunately technology continues to provide productivity enhancing tools. Here are a few recommended areas that should be examined to reduce your costs and improve performance:

  1. Hold online video conferences instead of travel. Computer based video conferencing services like Vonei Meeting offer unlimited use for less than $40/month. A regional bank VP told me they have twice a month meetings, where 7 of the 10 employees will drive 30 minutes to attend in person. The 1 hour of round trip lost productivity across 7 employees more than pays for the service with the first use. Additional savings include gasoline, parking, and reduced carbon pollution by eliminating driving. How much could you save by avoiding travel for meetings?

  2. Use open source software instead of licensing Microsoft software. Many people are switching to Google Apps for similar capabilities for no cost. If you are worried about Google’s insights into your data and communication you can consider OpenOffice and Zimbra. Both are open sourced and you can run them from your own computers and secure the data.

  3. Check for business class Internet service from your cable company. It is typically much less expensive than T-1 based Internet service from a telephone company. If you need 10Mb+ of Internet capacity consider getting an Ethernet connection from a competitive carrier. Ethernet is one of the least expensive transport mechanisms and is very reliable.

  4. For group communications use group chat or instant messaging services. Some video conferencing service providers like Vonei offer group and private chat embedded in their tool for no extra cost. Campfire is a stand alone group chat tool which works well for a small monthly cost. Google and Yahoo instant messaging services are free and are great for one-to-one communication without a phone call. Whether you use the group chat in Vonei or the one-to-one instant messaging services your communication stays within the group. For quick external chat Twitter is a useful tool. You just have to make sure everyone you want to communicate with has an account and regularly checks it.

  5. Use free video recording tools to improve your communication and advertising. An excellent video email service is available for free from Eyejot. You can record videos from your webcam and email them to anyone in the world. Instead of text, recipients will see and hear your message. There are several screen recording tools available for free which allow you to record video of your computer screen. CamStudio and Screenr are two I would recommend checking out. With a webcam one can record anything right from their computer, post it on YouTube, and then embed it or share the link. Here is an example of a recent video I made from my webcam called Why You Should Video Call Your Customers and How To Do It:

The technology tools mentioned above provide cost savings and improvements in the speed and effectiveness of communications. Check them out and leave me your comments.

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Video Resumes – Who Needs Them?

Posted on October 7, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

There is a lot of hype about candidates creating video resumes so they can “show their personality and stand out”. I’m sorry to be a stick-in-the-mud but I don’t think video resumes are very useful for most people. Here’s why:

  • Unless you have the proper equipment and lighting, a homemade video is likely to be of poor quality. Not to mention that the video background may be less than desirable and your personal editing abilities may not be studio quality. You would hate for a poor technical exhibit to reflect negatively on your abilities as a candidate.

  • Most candidates are not great at providing a one to two minute elevator pitch needed for a video resume. A script needs to be developed and fine tuned, and the candidate will need a lot of practice time to both memorize the script and present themselves well. Who coaches the candidate through this process?

  • A candidate may give a poor impression on camera, yet be an excellent fit for a job. Let’s face it, many jobs don’t require the most charismatic presence in front of a camera. If a candidate is interviewing for a back office position do you really think their video presentation skills are a good indication of their performance on the job?

  • Unsolicited video resumes are also likely to be tossed out. Discrimination concerns, as well as the difficulty of picking out key experiences from watching a video, make it easy for the recruiter to simply discard them and focus on the written resume.

vonei web conferencing

You are probably wondering why Vonei, a leader in video communications, is downplaying the role of video resumes. Well we are not downplaying the usefulness of video in the recruiting process, just downplaying the usefulness of a video resume. Live video interviews are certainly a great improvement over phone call screening. As a recruiter you are not simply watching a video resume, but you are conducting a live interview with the added benefit of seeing the candidate without having to pay them to travel for an in-person interview. Live video interview services like Vonei Meeting provide unlimited usage each month for less than $40, making it very economical.

While recorded videos are not that useful for video resumes, they can be used effectively in other parts of the recruiting and on-boarding process. Recorded videos can be great for the hiring manager or recruiter to send the winning candidate a video message welcoming them to the team, or providing useful information about the job or company. These welcome video mails do not have to be professional quality, nor are they elevator pitches. Video emails used for this purpose are valuable, personal touches that improve the overall process.

Would you like a free demo of the Vonei Meeting service and a free trial account? Simply send an email to sales@vonei.com and ask for your demo today.

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Why You Should Video Call Your Customers and How To Do It

Posted on October 6, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

Seeing your customers face-to-face is the best method to build relationships, sell your ideas and proposals, and negotiate deals. Unfortunately distance can make in-person meetings expensive, time consuming, and more infrequent than you would like. Video conferencing addressing these issues, but these systems can be expensive to purchase, expensive to rent ($150+/hr), and require the parties to be in physical rooms that have equipment. A great solution is making video calls right from your computer to get the face-to-face benefit without the travel.

Why see your customers face-to-face?

  • Up to 90% of the meaning transmitted in face-to-face communication is nonverbal.

  • Audio calls make it easy for your customers to put you on mute. With video you can see them.

  • Audio calls don’t show you if your customer is paying attention and you can’t see their reaction.

  • Video calls allow you to see your customer while going over proposals and documents.

  • Face-to-face video calls can provide a competitive advantage for you versus your competitors.

  • More face-to-face communication can improve your personal relationship with your customer.

  • You have to see ’em to sell ’em (click this link for a great blog on selling with video).

How to make video calls from your computer

A free method to make video calls from your computer is to use Instant Messaging systems or Skype. These are great for calling family members anywhere in the world. These services work well, and what’s not to like about free? Well, there are some limitations to the free services:

  • These services only work for 2-person video calls. You can’t add a third person with live video.

  • Each person must download and use the same software application.

  • Calls are not scheduled so you have to call or email your customer first to arrange a meeting.

  • There is no historical tracking of the video calls.

  • No support is provided. If you have webcam troubles there is no one to call.

These limitations may be acceptable for personal use. However for professional business use these limitations can be show stoppers. Imagine trying to close a sale with a customer on Google Talk, your customer having difficulties with their webcam, and you have no way of getting technical support.

vonei web conferencing

For a professional image there are computer based video conferencing services like Vonei Meeting that are built for business users. For less than $40/month you have an unlimited usage, business quality video calling experience. Vonei (http://www.vonei.com) resolves limitations of the free services:

  • There is no software to load. Users simply go through their browser to a website.

  • Multiple participants can attend. Perfect for those calls when you need to bring in a sales engineer or have multiple people from the customer’s office in the meeting.

  • Video conferences are scheduled in advance and invitations are sent to all participants.

  • A historical record is kept of all video meetings.

  • Document sharing is available in the meeting service; no need to refer to email attachments.

  • Technical support is available to help with any issue, and to provide demos.

Lastly one must have the equipment on your computer to have a video call; a webcam and a headset. While this equipment is plug-n-play, there can still be questions on how to use it and how to get it to work with the video service. This is where the support provided by the paid service companies such as Vonei provides great value.

Would you like a free demo of Vonei Meeting? Send an email to sales@vonei.com and request your demo and free trial account today.

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Video Interview Job Candidates from your Computer

Posted on October 2, 2009. Filed under: video interview | Tags: , , , , , , |

One of the first steps in the recruiting process involves screening potential candidates for an approved job opening. This is typically done with telephone calls today. It is a low cost, fast, and an effective means of quickly going through basic requirements with a candidate. However since you can’t see the candidate you have no idea if they are sitting in front of Wikipedia, have open books on their desk, or have other reference material nearby. In other words, how do you really know that the candidate knows their stuff?

NC Association of Staffing Professionals-July2009-5x3 -v3

Video interviewing candidates at the first step in the process can help weed out those that are referring to other documents versus answering from their own knowledge. You can also see their mannerisms and body language. Documents such as resumes/CVs, applications, job description, and other forms can be shared right during the meeting. By weeding candidates out quickly the recruiter can shorten the time to fill positions.

Use of Vonei Meeting for video interviewing provides a secure, inexpensive means of conducting live video interviews with document sharing right from a PC, Mac, or Linux computer. A webcam and headset is all you need. Video interviews are fast to set up and and more effective than telephone calls in getting to know the candidate. And we are not talking about expensive, $150/hour video conference rooms. Services such as Vonei’s offer unlimited usage monthly service plans starting under $40. Interviews are scheduled with email invitations, and a history of interviews is kept for your records. The interviews can be conducted with encrypted transmission, and secure document sharing is conducted directly in the interview, avoiding all the email servers on the Internet.

Another major benefit in using video interviewing is reduced travel cost of bringing prospects into the client company to interview. The more candidates can be weeded out early, the more cost effective it will be to bring only the finalists in for face-to-face interviews.

Vonei video service (www.vonei.com) can be used throughout the recruiting process, not just for the initial screening of candidates but for second and third interviews as well. Video interviews can be recorded if the parties consent (see your state laws) and shared with the hiring manager. If the recruiter is not collocated with the hiring manger the same video conferencing tool can be used for online video meetings between the recruiter and the manager, sharing applicant assessments, placement status, and other forms.

Filling jobs faster and reducing the cost of bringing candidates in for face-to-face interviews make using a computer based video interviewing service extremely valuable to the recruiter.

Do you use a video interviewing service? How has it worked for you?

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