You’ve been using Zoom (or Skype for Business, or WebEx—whatever) to host your web meetings for a while and you’ve managed to be reasonably proficient. Now your client wants you to use a different platform. How big a deal is that? It’s not as big a difference as you might think, and the analogy I always use is like renting a car at an airport.
Stick with me.
Most of us have reached a certain level of comfort with our web meeting platforms. That level ranges from the “I really like this and it’s easy,” to “I’ve made a deal with the devil, but what are you going to do?” The point is whatever platform our company uses, it’s at least enabled us to function. When we are faced with a screen that looks nothing like we’re used to, or features are called different things, it’s natural to feel stressed. Here’s where the rent-a-car analogy comes in.
Finding the switch to turn the wipers on
Automobile manufacturers use car rental agencies as ways to test out their newest vehicles and raise public awareness. So once in a while, when you get to an airport and hop in your shiny new vehicle, there is often a moment of drama as you are put in a car you’ve never driven or even seen before.
Which side is the gas tank on? Where are the windshield washer controls? I remember looking like an idiot as I couldn’t lower the window to hand the attendant my contract because the controls weren’t anywhere near the window (they were on the center console but at ten o’clock at night after a long flight I wasn’t operating at peak efficiency).
Cars are designed differently, but almost all of them have standard functions. You might not know which side the gas tank is on, but there is definitely a gas tank. All cars have windshield wipers, you just haven’t found the button yet. The driver’s side window hasn’t been made that wasn’t intended to go up and down somehow.
What’s required is a deep breath and some logic. The same is true of your web meeting platform.
All web meeting platforms have webcam capability. But sometimes the screen view options are at the top, sometimes they’re in a hidden menu in the video window. It just takes a moment to find them.
Nearly all meeting platforms now have a white board feature… but where it’s hiding is anyone’s guess. One of the giant advancements in Microsoft Teams is they now have a button called “whiteboard” on the main meeting screen. In the old Skype for Business it was under “more.” If you didn’t know that, you probably weren’t using one of Skype’s most useful features.
WebEx recently changed its user interface, moving a lot of its main functionality to big round icon buttons on the bottom of the screen. I have been a WebEx user for over 15 years, and it took me a while to figure it all out.
Here are some ways to overcome the trauma and drama of platform changes and differences.
- Nearly all the common platforms do the same thing. Odds are what you want to do can be done. You just need a second to figure it out. Take a breath.
- If you are asked to present on someone else’s platform, request a time (even if it’s ten minutes before the presentation) to get familiar with the interface.
- Don’t be afraid to ask the other person where something is. “I know when I work with _____ it has a whiteboard feature. Where is that on this tool?”
- Some platforms require loading an app before joining the meeting, others are browser-based. Try to log on early enough to give yourself time. If you’re mostly a passive observer, use the browser-based version. It will load faster and work simpler, even though it may not have all the functionality needed to present effectively. If you will be presenting or taking an active role, use the app.
- If you aren’t presenting and are just joining a conversation, relax. Use it as a chance to learn something new. Odds are the meeting won’t be any more valuable or the training more powerful based on the platform used.
When it comes to using web meeting platforms, form follows function. You don’t need to use every bell and whistle. And for the basics, they’re pretty much interchangeable once you realize it’s like renting a car.
Our on demand course, Leading Effective Virtual Meetings, is available at a significant discount right now. This will help you master any platform you need to use to run your web meetings.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager
Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in Management-Issues.com.
Wayne, along with Kevin Eikenberry, has co-authored the definitive book on leading remotely, The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership. You can pre-order Kevin and Wayne’s follow-up book, The Long-Distance Teammate, now.