Last month, a historic event took place in the high-definition (HD) video conferencing facility on the University of Denver’s campus through their Institute for the Study of Israel in the Middle East. Here teenagers in Israeli, representing Arabs, Jews, Christians, and Muslims met with 25 Iraqi high school students who were visiting the University of Denver to hold a peace summit to explore barriers to peace in the region and how to overcome them.
The Iraqi students visiting Denver were part of the Iraqi Youth Leaders Exchange Program sponsored by the US State Department and they met and talked directly with Israeli students who had convened at the AVCOM facilities in Tel Aviv.
The videoconference allowed these Middle Eastern youth to see the faces, hear the voices, and ask direct questions of their counterparts whom, under regular circumstances, they would never get a chance to meet or get to know as people.
The positive results of this meeting showed how the use of new communications technology can help break down barriers that have existed for decades, facilitate communication, and foster understanding.
The event showed that the creative application of new communications technology which allows people to meet on their own terms under non-threatening conditions breaks down communication barriers and allows conversations to take place that could never occur otherwise.
the innumerable advantages afforded by modern technology is the ability to
transform your home into an office even though the two boundaries can be and
often are somewhat blurry. Still, there is something to be said for not having
to deal with traffic jams, rush hours, punching clocks and the cozy plushier
alternative of sitting in an office chair clad in pajamas and silly slippers.
Not only that, in terms of your own virtual business, your hours and profit
are all your own. But beware. That could mean that your shop is NEVER
The freedom afforded by a virtual company is limitless, but so
are the problems and pitfalls if you do not organize, prioritize and get off
your butt so that you can eventually sit down on your butt. Unlike a
conventional organization, those of the virtual variety have no shared
physical space and no employees. An entirely different frame of mind and set
of skills are required than those who work at a physical location. There are
some specific issues to be addressed however, some emotional, some practical
and others purely fiscal. Starting with the character traits that best lend
themselves to running a virtual business, here are some tips to consider about
how to make your virtual business a lucrative, satisfying, interesting and
successful business venture.
- Be passionate about working from your home. If you do not live
and breathe your particular product or service, you will eventually want to
take it out to the backyard and kill it along with all your dreams for success
on your own terms.
Understand your motivations. Are you driven to work for yourself? Virtual work
settings attract different people for different reasons. Make sure your
reasons are clearly etched in your brain, as they will become part of your
emotional mantra when the hard times come and help to propel you through
- If it is at all possible, maintain two separate computers in
your home; one for work and one for your other life. This helps you to
distinguish work from leisure in your own mind, which is one of the greatest
challenges in maintaining a successful virtual business. Do not install
instant messenger programs, chat room applets or computer games on your
workstation computer; save those for your private time.
- If you are not determined to succeed, you probably will not
make your concept for a successful virtual business work very well. There's an
old saying that translates into something like: "Those who think they can
usually do and those who think they can't, usually can't." The good news is
that just like any other positive habit, determination is something that can
be developed over time. Make up your mind to not let anything stand in your
way to success and it won't.
- You will have to assume full responsibility for everything
that succeeds or fails within your virtual business. When problems arise, you
must solve them in the most responsible manner possible. Conversely, you get
to take every single scrap of credit for jobs well done, making the virtual
business unmatched in rendering a sense of pride and satisfaction.
- You must cultivate self-discipline and realize that if you
only have to report to yourself, the work involved will not get done unless
you go and do it. Distractions are everywhere even on your own website where
pleasant things are only a click away from realization. Most people don't have
this skill naturally, but rather learn how to acquire it over time. You too
can be among them (and maybe even be the first on your block to do so).
- You must get organized, set a schedule for yourself and stick
to it. As the head of your virtual business, you have the advantage of being
able to create a flexible schedule for yourself that fits around the rest of
your life. Whether your personal bio-rhythms call for you to work week-ends,
evenings, early morning or all or some of the above, you must remember that
your decided work schedule must be adhered to as strictly as possible. Be your
own slave driver. In the end, it will all pay off.
Select practical office furniture. You will spend a major part of every day in
your office. Shop around and find the best computer, office chair, and
equipment and supplies for your money and your needs. These items can be
tax-deductible and are well worth their cost. They will serve you well. Buy
the best you can afford and do not buy impulsively.
- Select the right spot in your home for your office. This is
not only true for the achievement of that elusive concept known as optimum
feng shui. It also pertains to a space where you can work UNDISTURBED for
hours at a time. No distractions. This means, wives, husbands, children, pets,
friends and relatives, well meaning and otherwise.
- There must be a leader of the virtual business. No matter how
many partners and participants, there must be one person in charge of all the
operations of your virtual business. There is no underestimating the
importance of a strong leadership from the corporation's very
- All partners must be able to communicate with each other at
all times. With so many remote locations, it is mandatory for all who share
both profits and responsibility for the daily operations of a virtual business
to remain "in the loop" so to speak about all events and decisions affecting
the company. The two most effective ways to accomplish that are video
conferencing and conference calls. The most current video-conferencing systems
are very easy to use and they transmit pictures and audio of the best possible
quality. It really is almost like being there.
- Despite the liabilities associated with video conferencing,
namely the absence of eye contact and appearance consciousness, experts agree
that it is a valuable tool for the day-to-day operations of the virtual
business. As people become more accustomed to video conferencing as a means of
communication, these issues will disappear. Now that personal video-conference
systems based on a web cam, personal computer system, software compression and
broadband Internet connectivity have become affordable commodities, video
conferencing is available to many who otherwise would not have been able to
- The distribution of equity in a virtual business must be
clearly established in writing and understood by all participants. With
multiple partners, who does what and for how much should never be a matter of
guesswork. There will always be those partners who are either "hunters or
skimmers" in terms of working styles. Hunters make the kill and skimmers watch
them. In a very lean organization, however, there is no room for skimmers.
Everyone must pick up the slack and be a hunter. Still, each partner is
entitled to whatever share of the equity has been agreed upon.
- The participants in your virtual business do not necessarily
have to be friends, but they all have to be motivated by their common
commitment to the corporation. They all must exhibit a personal compatibility
in their dealings with the other members. Even remotely, one can become
intimate with the help of hi-tech conference calls and video
The statistics are a bit scary, although they are constantly
changing as people learn what works for the virtual business and what doesn't.
According to statistics, more than 90% of the people trying to earn a living
online are failing. This is a hard fact and must be addressed realistically.
The main reason for the failure seems to be the frame of mind that most
entrepreneurs are in when they embark on this type of business venture.
Many have an unrealistic image of a glamorous freedom from cares
and responsibilities all while money rakes in along side the enormous pool in
the backyard of the mansion. Too many are dreamers without direction. But that
doesn't have to be you.
Not every press release is created equal, at least not in the eyes of a search engine. If you decide to market your webinar through a press release, knowing how search engines work is critical. Below are some tips to help your press release rise to the top of the list when some company executive or manager surfs the web to keep up with the newest thing in the field.
- Use keywords in the title: Remember no one will be using the word "webinar" in their news engine search. If your company is well known, they may be looking for news on that as well. Use something like "Spud Corp. Offers Webinar for Hazardous Waste Engineers Handling Toxic Organic Compounds".
- Repeatedly mention keywords in the first paragraph: The first paragraph is where search engine rubber meets the road. It where they decide what the press release is all about. Use as many alternative spellings as you can, just in case a searcher might use "computer" instead of "IT". Whatever you do, don't use any keyword more than five times because the search engine then begins to think this is commercial span as opposed to a real news item.
- Put a worded hotlink to your site in the first paragraph: Most business news readers only scan the first paragraph, so no matter how much you want to put down all the info and then put the contact link at the bottom of the page. Don't do it. Associate your link with some well worded prose in the first paragraph where it is more likely to be seen and in such a way that it does not look like "marketing".
- Put some keywords in your hotlink: Search engines actually read the words in your hotlink not only to determine how to rank your press release, but also see if your landing page (which should be the webinar registration page) should be listed on the search engine.
As technology has advanced, making on-line training and information exchange simpler and more interactive, and as businesses and users become more familiar with online distance learning technologies, the webinar marketplace has exploded. The webinar industry is expanding at a rate of 20-30% each year. What this means to you is that search engines that are already swamped with webinar offerings will soon be more than swamped.
Let's say your company wants to move into the training field, or some other information-provider-oriented area. Because the Internet can reach an international, as opposed to local, audience and everyone saves on time and travel, let's say webinars are being considered as the medium of choice. As we know, it's one thing to create a great webinar and another to reach the people who might want to take it, especially with the crowded, ever growing field of webinar providers.
Of course your company can always simply list the webinar on its website and hope someone randomly types in the right key words and goes down low enough on the list of links on their search page and then is intrigued enough by the byline to click on the link and decide it is just what they have been looking for.
It can cost big money to register for Google AdWords or some similar search engine pay-for-placement/click utility to shunt potential users to your company's webinar. But did you know you can get great visibility by sending out a press release through Business Wire, PR Newswire, or Market Wire? Releases to these news providers get picked up by search engine news sites like Google, MSN, and Yahoo News. And the cost is a generally very reasonable flat rate AND it stays visible to search engines for 21-28 days.
Every day, companies and executives surf these news sites using industry key words to find articles of interest and if you word your press release right, you could reach your intended audience more quickly (and cheaply) than you might guess.
We are starting a new feature for our blog. We are going to post a picture of the week taken by members of the AccuConference team – so without further pause, here’s our first:
There's lots of talk these days about web-this and web-that. So much so that, for many of us, it can all be very confusing. In today's world in business and communications, the Internet is by far the major growth medium. Two of the most important and widely used means of communicating a specific message or sharing fast breaking news with others are webinars, also known as web conferences, and webcasts. Although their names are similar, webinars, web conferences and webcasts are very different communication mediums, each suited for different audiences or messages.
Webcasts are where audio and/or video content is streamed to many people over the Internet. Webcasts only allow you to hear and/or see what is being transmitted. There is no way to interact with the people transmitting the content. A good example of a webcast is when a radio or TV station simulcast their show over the Internet. Today a lot of companies use webcasting to make presentations for stockholders or potential investors.
Web Conferencing is a fully interactive, live conference that is held over the Internet in real time. In a web conference people at their personal computer and log into a host site, which generally has a wide variety of different applications that can be used to display and share information as well as audio, video, and desktops. A meeting then takes place between the people logged on.
Webinars are a type of web conference. Although many times a webminar is a one way transmission of information, generally a slide show. from a presenter to an audience who are attending over their personal computer, it can be designed to have elements of interactivity. Generally, in addition to logging on with a computer, attendees also call in on their telephones like is done for a conference call. Via the telephone, the presenter discusses the information transmitted to everyone's computer screen and participants can ask questions in real time over their phone. Like web conferences, a webinar is live and has a specific starting and ending time.
One of the more common ways of supplying information to a large and distributed group of users is called a web conference or webinar for short. This is where people sit at their computer, which is connected to a host company through the Internet. The host then provides information via various audio visual formats. Even up to a few years ago, information generally traveled only one way. From the presented at the host company to the participants personal computers.
Today, webinars can be much more interactive and combined with teleconferencing with participants responding over their own telephones. They can include slide presentations, live video, or a whiteboard that allows annotations by the presenter and/or attendees, depending on the sophistication of the presentation and the capabilities of the host site. There can also be provisions for live text chatting, polls that let participants vote on issues, and sharing of documents or spreadsheets.
Webinars are generally billed one of two ways, as a fixed “cost per minute” or on a “per participant” basis. Either way, this is one of the least expensive means of presenting the same information, simultaneously, to a lot of people who are widely distributed. Webinars are becoming popular not only in the training field, but also in the financial and business sector in terms of reaching a broader spectrum of stockholders and investors.
Unlike a teleconference, a video conference let's people see you or you and your team sitting across a table from them and interact almost as naturally as you do in a face-to-face meeting. Just as in the world of teleconferencing, organization and planning is the backbone of a successful videoconference. Because of technical issues, there are also rules of etiquette similar in nature to those in conference calling, but different because of the added visual element in the video environment.
In addition to issues like wearing the appropriate clothes and accessories that we talked about in a previous blog which was related to video job interviewing, there are a number of other things that are particular to the videoconferencing environment. Abiding by these guidelines will make your video conference work as you hope it will.
- As for conference calling, make sure you have an agenda for the meeting, distribute it to the participants in advance, and then stick to it.
- Be sure to get to the video suite early and check all the equipment to make sure it is working well and that you know how to make it work of have technical help at hand to do so. What ever you do, don't be late.
- Your camera settings should focus as much as possible on the people in the room and minimize showing a large expanse of table or wall. At all cost avoid having ceiling lights included in the view.
- Clothes with simple styling in muted colors help the camera stay focused and don't distract your audience from your face, which is what you hope they will be watching.
So your starting up video conferencing at your company or university or non-profit organization and want to really know what you're in for and how to avoid the most common problems? Well go online and check out the video on the University of Washington TV's "How to" production video webpage. You can do this by going to "the video conference zone".
The video is a take off of the classic 60's television show "The Twilight Zone" and shows you, for real, what things that can, but shouldn't, happen in your video conference or distance learning class. It is really quite humorous and if you have ever video conferenced before or taken any distance learning classes, you will recognize some of the classic faux pas.
Of particular note are the great suggestions the moderator, a Rod Serling clone, has for video conferences in which there are multiple sites participating. One of the best is to have one moderator at each site who orchestrates that sites interactions and an "uber" moderator whose job is to be sure that all sites are cooperating and functioning so the video conference maximizes its return for all participants.
Even if you have done a lot of video conferencing, the "Zone" is definitely worth a look, even if just for the chuckle.