What are the best practices for the host when web conferencing?
- Email the invite to yourself. That way you can save the invite as a draft and re-use it each time you want to host the same access code/meeting.
Plus, you will be using an email client you are familiar with that already contains your address book so adding invitees will be easier than manually typing them into the Invite Wizard and the emails coming from your email address are less likely to be caught in a SPAM filter thus increasing the probability that your guests will receive them.
This article covers all of the options for inviting guests to your GatherPlace meetings in detail.
- Make sure the meeting settings are correct prior to the start of the meeting.
This is especially true for the audio settings since the GatherPlace teleconferencing services are not enabled for meetings by default.
For more information on configuring a meeting to use GatherPlace teleconferencing services see this article.
- Enable the Mute Guests when they Join option for the meeting.
This is a must if the meeting has the Allow Participants to Use Their Computers like Phones (VoIP) option selected and highly recommended if there will be a large number of people dialing in by the telephone. Most meetings can be accomplished with only the host speaking and the guests asking questions via the text chat. The host can also selectively un-mute any guest by clicking on their name in the Participant list. See the next tip for allowing multiple moderators to speak while keeping the guests muted.
- Share the Moderator code with other moderators.
If there will be one or more presenter, or moderator, that needs to speak frequently during the meeting and they will be using the telephone to dial into the audio portion of the meeting, tell them the 4 digit moderator PIN that is set in the meeting details so they can enter it at the second prompt when dialing in. That will assign them moderator rights for the audio portion of the meeting and they will not be muted by default even if the Mute Guests when they Join option is set on the meeting (see above). The host can selectively mute/un mute moderators from the Participant list if necessary.
- Use a headset instead of separate microphone and speakers if you will be using the VoIP option.
Headsets provide a much better audio experience during GatherPlace meetings as a separate microphone and speakers can cause echo in the meetings.
- Do a practice run of your presentation.
Ask a colleague, friend or family member to join you for a practice meeting prior to the actual meeting. This will allow you to find any issues before you go live and allows you to become familiar with the application. If you have a Premium account, you can also record the test meeting and then play it back to see what the guest experience will be like.
Starting the Meeting
- Turn off any instant messaging programs and calendar or email alerts.
There is nothing worse than an unintended message or alert popping up in the middle of a presentation.
- Begin the meeting prior to the actual scheduled start time.
It's always better to start the meeting 10-15 minutes early to make sure there are no technical issues and to ensure that all of the material is on the computer and ready to present. Make sure to start the applications that will be required so the guests don't have to wait for them to startup at the beginning of the presentation. Once everything is running, minimize the application windows and put up your welcome screen so any early guests will know they are in the right place and are waiting for the meeting to start.
- Consider a splash screen or welcome slide.
Many hosts create a PowerPoint slide or other document which they display at the beginning welcoming the guests to the webinar/presentation as they arrive. Many of your guests may be new to web conferences or webinars so they will not know what to expect as they try to join the meeting. Having a welcome screen displayed with the title or subject of the meeting, along with the date and time (and timezone) included as soon as they join will let them know they have joined your meeting correctly. Optionally include an agenda so the guests will know want will be covered in the meeting. Some hosts also include an image of themselves on the welcome screen or one of the first slides so the guests can put a face with the presenter.
During the Meeting
- Use application sharing instead of desktop sharing (Windows only).
This is especially true for presenters that have large or multiple monitors since the guests will have to scroll or scale the view to see your entire desktop. Since application sharing only sends the images of the windows of the applications that are being shared, they will use less space on the guest's viewer and usually negates their need to scale the view or scroll to see everything that is being presented. This is also very important if the meetings will be recorded and then downloaded in the Flash format.
- Consider lowering the screen resolution of the presenter's monitor.
When sharing the desktop, the images that are sent to the guests are the same size in pixels that the presenter's monitor resolution is set to. If the presenter has their monitor resolution set to 1280 x 1024 for example and all of the guests have monitors with screen resolutions of 1024 x 768, the guests will need to scale or scroll the viewer window in order to see everything since they don't have enough pixels to display the larger size image that the presenter is sending. If the presenter were to lower their resolution to that of the lowest guest, none of the guests would need to scale the viewer or scroll to see everything presented.
- Have guests use the text chat for questions.
This tends to works better than leaving the microphones un-muted for all of the guests and letting them ask questions verbally, especially in larger meetings where the background noise of all of the guest telephones can overwhelm the voice of the host.
- Turn off Public and Private Chat for the meetings.
When the Public chat option is selected, all the guests in the meeting will be able to send chat messages to all other participants by selecting Public in the To menu. When the Private chat option is enabled, any guest can private chat to any other guest in the meeting. Generally these are not selected by most hosts as Public chat can be very disruptive and private chat amongst guests can have other less than desirable effects. It is important to note that even with all of the chat option disabled for a meeting, guests can always chat to All Moderators or any moderator individually so they will be able to get a message to the host and/or other moderators in the meetings for questions (see the next tip for more on moderators).
- Appoint one or more guests as moderators in larger meetings.
With larger groups it can be very difficult to keep the presentation on track, on time and focused if the presenter is trying to monitor the questions that are posed via the text chat and facilitate the presentation. Depending on the type of presentation, the size of the group and their knowledge of the material, you may need more than one moderator to filter the chat questions/comments and create a succinct list for the presenter to address. It is also a good idea to create a list of questions, hold them until the end of the presentation and address them at that point. This will keep the presentation flowing as intended and help stay on focus.
Special Notes for Recording Meetings
- Recordings that are played back using a link sent by the host will be played back at the native resolution that they were recorded in. However, any recordings that have been converted to the Flash format from the GatherWorks My Recordings page will be scaled to a maximum size of 1920 pixels in either direction so the presentation will look smaller than the original. For this reason it is recommended that application sharing be used in any meetings that will be converted to Flash.