Welcome to the Coaching Hive podcast! I’m thrilled you are here for today’s conversation.
When was the last time you met online with a member, client, or colleague? Two years ago you might have to stop and think about the answer to this question, but today you can probably think of several instances in the last few days where you have met with someone online. It is the norm, not the exception, but it doesn’t always go smoothly.
How many times have you uttered, “You’re on mute” over the last two years?
How many times have you been talking to someone important in a Zoom call in your super comfy slippers, sweatpants, and a nice top?
Even with the world getting back to a new normal, online communications, meetings, sessions, and conversations are not going anywhere. In fact, more people are opting to work from home and building businesses.
So you need to know what platforms make the most sense for your business as well as best practices for those ubiquitous online calls.
If you are ready for this conversation grab your notebook and a pen and let’s dive in!
Online Call Platforms
There are many different platforms out there for online calls. I can’t begin to highlight them all so what I thought I’d do today is create a list of things to consider when choosing a platform for your online calls, workshops, and presentations.
1. Level of Interaction
When choosing an online call platform the first step you might want to take is to clarify what level of interaction you need and want during the call. For large groups you may want to only have the speaker on camera and have mic capabilities. For other calls you may want to have breakout sessions where participants can work together in small groups. For medium sized groups you might want the flexibility to easily pull a guest up on stage with you for a laser coaching session.
The question is how much control do you want to have? We have all been on calls where someone accidentally unmutes and you can hear all sorts of things in the background. You spend time asking them to mute before finally muting them yourself.
Do you want to deal with that during a big sales pitch or an important webinar? Probably not. In this case you might find yourself gravitating to a webinar platform such as Zoom Webinar. There are lots of different webinar platforms out there. I’ve tried a few and there is definitely a range of quality out there. Be sure to test drive any platform before the big presentation or workshop!
Another thing to think about is accessibility. If you’ve been around me for any length of time, you know that accessibility is something that I hold near and dear to my heart. This is why we have full written transcripts for every podcast episode, closed captioning on every website and course video, and alt tags on pictures. We want every person to be able to interact in a way that is most comfortable for them.
Luckily, many platforms have come a LONG way in creating accessible options. In Zoom for instance, you can turn on closed captioning for your guests. It isn’t perfect, but no automatic closed captioning is perfect.
Another thing to think about is whether there are options for logging on to the presentation. Is there a phone number that allows your guests to connect if the internet is a bit slower in their location or if a phone interaction is more comfortable?
Start asking the hard questions of the companies that you are exploring. The more we ask, the more accessible the platforms will become!
I told you, this is something that I will fuss about over and over.
3. Does it require something special
The next question to ask yourself is whether your guests will need to download something special to participate in your event, meeting, or conversation. At this point just about everyone has Zoom so it is safe to assume that Zoom won’t require any extra work.
I had an interesting conversation the other day with an entrepreneur who was asking about Microsoft Teams. She was thinking about switching from Zoom to Teams for her membership calls. This brought up the question of whether most people in her membership have Teams on their computer. Likely this would require a Microsoft subscription like Microsoft 365 to participate. Once thinking about this, she was going to take a step back and evaluate the pros and cons a little more carefully.
Ideally, choose a platform that is easy for your clients and guests to access. Bonus points if they don’t have to download anything new. Either the application can run in the browser or it is a common application like Zoom.
Last, but certainly not least, is cost. How much does the platform cost? Is this a continuous fee, a one time fee, something that is discounted when you pay by the year? What works best for your budget?
These days there are so many different options available to us that you don’t have to stick with a platform that doesn’t suit your needs or budget. I’ll be honest that I tried out a webinar platform that worked ok, but I didn’t love it. I couldn’t pause the platform in the months that I wasn’t planning to run a webinar and I don’t currently have an evergreen webinar that is running behind the scenes.
After that I tried out Zoom Webinar which allows me to choose the months that I want to use that add-on so that I don’t have to pay for it when I don’t need it.
Look at your options and be informed.
With so many options out there you are sure to find the right fit for your business, but even the best platform requires that you operate it with best practices in mind.
Let’s just take a few minutes here to think about those best practices. Some of you could probably rattle off a slew of best practices and others might be listening to this and wondering what to do during a live call.
After teaching online for over 5 years, I definitely am in the “rattle off the best practices camp”. So here we go. I’ll keep it short and sweet and please feel free to pass these tips along!
These tips work for you as a presenter and for your attendees.
- Use a wired internet connection
- Restart the computer before any big calls or presentations (leave enough time for those sneaky updates that like to happen at the worst of times)
- Earbuds – wired is awesome, air pods can create trouble, dropped connections and an echo!
- Stay muted when you are not speaking
- Turn on your camera to stay engaged and present in the moment
- Raise your physical hand or digital hand if the group is large and you’d like to speak. (This is a good participant rule to share with your guests and clients).
This brings me to the part of the podcast where I ask you to take action. If you are new to online calls and are thinking about incorporating more calls into your business, your action item is to explore platforms and do a bit of research using the concepts I shared today.
You want to keep in mind:
- Level of interaction you desire
- What extra things it might require (e.g., a downloaded app)
Many platforms have free tiers or trials so that you can give them a whirl before committing.
And if you already have a platform that you love, have you been following the best practices? Think about the tech issues you have experienced. Could they have been eliminated or alleviated with these best practices? Create a checklist to follow in the future.
As we wrap-up today’s conversation about live calls, remember that imperfect action is the best action. Live calls are live. Things will happen. Glitches will appear, you will freeze at some point, your audio will cut out, or your camera will malfunction.
No one expects perfection. Just smile and go with the flow.
That’s all I have for you today, but I trust that our conversation has provided value as you continue to build your business. I’d love to hear from you about your favorite platforms.
I look forward to seeing you back here next week for another episode of the Coaching Hive Podcast, where a focus on mentoring and community removes the overwhelm of building your successful and profitable business and adds in a dose of momentum.
Until next time, have a healthy, safe, and happy week!