How well do you know your webmeeting platform?

Dec 11 2014 by Wayne Turmel Print This Article

Well over three-quarters of people who use webmeeting tools like WebEx or Microsoft Lync use only 20% of their features. That is not unusual, in fact it’s pretty normal for any kind of software. Human beings tend to learn just what we need in that moment. We learn enough to function.

As someone who’s worked with hundreds of people around the world on their virtual and online presentation skills, I can usually tell the exact moment someone “gets it”. It’s when they say, “I didn’t know you could do that.”

Why is that such a telling sign?

Most people don’t love learning new technology or software. We’ve managed to survive our time on this planet pretty well up until now, and it’s usually seen as something “extra” or “annoying”, and it often is. Other than a few technophiles (a much lovelier word than “geeks” but without the hipster cachet) most people don’t use tools for their own sake. We use them to get work done. If learning that tool takes time, or seems to slow us down, well, we have better things to do.

So what makes people adopt, and make good use of, a particular tool? We resist learning things that take up precious time and don’t add value. We’re really good at adopting tools that make our life better or easier.

So that’s why, when I hear people say, ”I didn’t know you could do that” I know I have them. When they see how a feature or a tool can be of value, they instinctively want to learn how to use it for their own purposes. The question that immediately follows is, “How did you do that?”

Here are a few of the features people are surprised to see are actually useful and get the biggest response. Notice how simple some of them are:

Setting permissions/meeting options. Many people aren’t even aware that they can change the meeting’s default settings for who can chat with whom, and how they can interact during the meeting. By checking the settings, you can actually allow file transfer, multiple presenters, people can print documents right from the meeting, you can have assistants to make presenting easier.

White board enhancements. Did you know you can not only create multiple whiteboards in most platforms, but save them for future use? Some platforms allow you to cut and paste images and text directly into the whiteboard. Further, you can set permissions for attendees to be able to save them to their own computers; no more having to transcribe and email them after the meeting. It’s also simple in most tools to have someone else serve as the scribe even if you’re the active presenter. This reduces multitasking and enhances the quality of the discussion.

Loading files to the server rather than sharing your desktop. One of the biggest barriers to using multiple features is that we’re sharing our desktop which reduces our ability to chat, annotate, see each other on video and move between functions smoothly. Plus we see the presenter’s pop up messages, IMs and every time they get an email.

The simple act of loading files you want to present to the platform, rather than sharing from your desktop, immediately opens up the possibility for maximizing your presentation platform. Ironically, it’s the people who have been using these tools the longest (often IT people) who are most guilty of not using these features, mainly because what they’ve been doing works “well enough”.

There are plenty more features, but to be honest, they vary in usefulness and applicability to your particular workplace. The point is, you don’t know whether they’re useful unless you know they’re even there and what they can do.

If you’ve been using a webmeeting platform for a while, ask yourself: how many features do I actually use? How many drop-down menus and icons have I never utilized? Do I know what they mean?

Odds are, you have a much more powerful tool at your disposal than you think, and you’re probably working way harder than you have to in order to make them work.

Do you know what you have at your disposal? Are you making the most of those tools? How do you know?

more articles

About The Author

Wayne Turmel
Wayne Turmel

For almost 30 years, Wayne Turmel has been obsessed with how people communicate - or don't - at work. He has spent the last 20 years focused on remote and virtual work, recognized as one of the top 40 Remote Work Experts in the world. Besides writing for Management Issues, he has authored or co-authored 15 books, including The Long-Distance Leader and The Long-Distance Teammate. He is the lead Remote and Hybrid Work subject matter expert for the The Kevin Eikenberry Group. Originally from Canada, he now makes his home in Las Vegas, US.