The success of a meeting can hinge in great part on the reliability of the tech tools you use. A little extra preparation can make the difference between a seamless experience and a full-blown disaster.
Try these five tips to prevent tech troubles from derailing your agenda:
1. Test equipment thoroughly.
This may sound obvious. Yet hiccups can result from running through this process too quickly or assuming that certain necessities will be in place. Along with checking the technology you'll need, be sure that cables are available and power outlets are working. Test computer microphones and cameras to ensure good sound and video quality.
2. Share presentations in advance.
Taking this step can help keep things on track should your technology falter, and it can encourage a more fruitful discussion. In your test run of computers and projectors, pay close attention to how presentations render — what looks beautiful on your screen may look different on another device. Usually a large, simple font and spare illustration tend to work best.
3. Provide dial-in instructions.
Double-check dial-in numbers, and give attendees more detailed instruction than you think are required. If they'll need an access code to enter a meeting, be sure to make this clear. If you're using a virtual conferencing tool like WebEx or GoToMeeting, encourage participants to test the service beforehand. You might even send step-by-step instructions for joining a call, since lack of familiarity with these tools can result in log-on delays.
4. Have help at the ready.
Keep phone numbers of anyone who could offer technical support if you run into trouble. This can alleviate stress and save time should a piece of equipment fail. Know who the best person is to help with certain types of technology and who can troubleshoot a spotty web connection.
5. Devise a backup plan.
Preparing a few contingency measures can help head off problems — especially if you're talking with an important client or partner. If your meeting is web-based, consider appointing someone as a backup host who could lead the discussion should the host's computer crash. If you're unsure about the quality of your internet connection, consider using an Ethernet cable, as this is typically more reliable than Wi-Fi. If you need a conference line, have an alternate number at the ready should the connection falter. Take note of any key things that could go wrong, so you can plan to work around them.