Take Your Conference Calls to the Next Level With Video

Videoconferencing has great advantages, but to leverage them you’ll need to manage a culture shift, say two association IT pros.

Videoconferencing has great advantages, but to leverage them you’ll need to manage a culture shift, say two association IT pros.

In the latest issue of Associations Now Todd Tolbert, senior director, information technology, at the Internet Society, and Chris Parks, senior director, information technology, at the American Health Care Association, shared some thoughts on breaking into the world of  video teleconferencing.

With more and more organizations adopting remote office capabilities, at least part of the time, videoconferencing can help ensure face-to-face communication that may otherwise be lost for those working virtually. It also helps open up the talent pool by providing a greater opportunity to hire remote workers from across the globe, Tolbert said.

While the field of video teleconferencing providers may be wide open, choosing the right technology and implementing this kind of system is not always as straightforward as it may seem. In addition to determining the right provider, most organizations will also need to manage an organizational culture shift.

“The culture of utilizing—to get people to turn on the cameras when they’re doing even a one-to-one conference—that’s where we’re having the biggest challenge,” Tolbert said. “And I think that other associations are probably going to have that as well.”

Even something as small as how you appear on camera, a detail people may overlook if they are used to working from home, can be a big shift in using this type of technology, added Tolbert, who along with Parks shared some additional advice on adopting a video teleconferencing solution:

Pick a common vendor. With plenty of solutions to choose from, the best choice may be one of the more prevalent vendors.

“People know how to use them and know that the client is available, and they’ve got some pretty robust mobility options as well,” Parks said. Going with a small shop that doesn’t have a large support staff may create more trouble-shooting issues for an organization’s in-house IT staff.

Do a free trial. With so many options out there, “try them all out and figure out which is the best for you and what’s the most cost-effective for you,” Parks said.

Tolbert recommended setting up free accounts on a range of solutions from higher to lower end. “We haven’t been scared about doing that—we try them all,” he said.

Provide training—and more training. Parks said he offers about three to four trainings a year for AHCA staff on how to use the organization’s video teleconferencing system.

“It goes over best practices, things like make sure that if you’re doing a videoconference in your home office that you have a quiet space that you can take that call with, and make sure you know how to use the mute function, which is a vital thing when you’re having a conference call in general,” he said. “You can have all the infrastructure in the world, but if you’ve got Bob driving down the highway at 55 mph with the roof down, and he’s trying to have a conference call, it’s going to make for a really bad experience if he doesn’t know how to mute his microphone.”

How has your association integrated video teleconferencing? Let us know in the comments.


Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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