Hosting an effective meeting can be a costly venture. Between travel expenses, charges for printing and creating effective literature, the cost of refreshments, and rental or purchase fees for equipment like projectors and corresponding screens, it can cost a pretty penny. Whether your meeting is across town or across the country, it’s going to cost you something to attend—the further you go, and the more people attend, the more it’s going to cost.
This all but cuts small to mid-size businesses out of the equation for professional and effective business meetings. More clients are lost, more remedial training is required, and less profit is made every time a cheaper, more simplistic meeting fails to satisfy the goal of getting together in the first place. But a truly professional meeting is bound to cost more than it earns for most small businesses, so what else is there to do? Even conference calls can rack up a phone bill to make any sole proprietor cringe. Thankfully, advances in modern technology have allowed an alternative to rise from the frustration of small business owners everywhere.
Make Virtual Your Business Reality
Going virtual with your business meetings and conferences is the best way to level the playing field when it comes to achieving effective and productive meetings. It takes a little practice, but a good service will work with you to make sure you get all the features your business needs at a price you can afford. The best services boast high customer satisfaction and multiple accolades—for instance, Blue Jeans Virtual Meetings were recently rated number one among all cloud-based video conference solutions.
The key is to know what to look for when you seek out a virtual meeting solution. Chron’s recommendation for virtual conferencing is a system that allows you to set up meetings in minute and connect instantly; the best solutions for any business, from mom and pop shops to Fortune 500 companies, offer key features:
- Easy to use from the outset: Simple installation and launching, easy connection, screen sharing, etc.
- Cross-compatible with multiple systems and devices: make sure it can run on your computer, your business partner’s computer, your iPad and your clients’ and employees’ various devices before you invest in a subscription or full system.
- Economic options: establish the features you need, such as screen sharing, mobile call-in functionality and more, and find the solution that offers what you need over what you don’t. There’s no point paying for bells and whistles you’re never going to use.
- Secure connections: protect your business’s most proprietary information by being certain that outsiders can’t crash—or hack into—your meeting.
- Functional for multiple industries: some video conferencing solutions have terms that prohibit some industries from using their service, mostly for legal issues. Make sure, especially if you work in law or with any sensitive information, that the terms of service allow you to utilize your preferred system before you make a purchase.
The fact that so many solutions can offer these features to begin with proves that virtual is the best way to hold your next conference, but incorporating it into your business model could be a bit complicated if you’ve never worked with virtual meetings before. It’s best to start a free trial of the service that you’re most interested in—and is most suited to your business—and see how long it takes you to get used to the system. Make sure to introduce it to your employees and colleagues as you test it out; if you’re the only one that finds the system easy to use, you may need to see out an option that is more intuitive to your business connections.
See the Benefits
The Wall Street Journal reported that eliminating business travel from a company budget would save 17 percent in the first year—and that’s not counting the money saved on fuel to and from the office by employees who usually work remotely.
The benefits of choosing to substitute physical meetings for their efficient virtual cousin are many, but here are a few of the best:
- Zero travel time, zero travel expenses, zero attendance hassle.
- Digital presentations are easier and less expensive than working with paper and projectors.
- Opportunity for attendance from employees, clients and business partners that normally would be cut out of the meeting due to matters of distance, health, or other issues.
- Allow your business to go green—as helpfully pointed out by Bussines2Community in 2013, using less fuel and paper reduces your company’s carbon footprint.
Going virtual also eliminates concerns of limited space for large meetings and conferences, removes the need to pay for refreshments, and helps increase productivity as a whole by allowing attendees to stay on task.
Prepare for Launch
Virtual conferences and meetings aren’t the way of the future, they’re the way of today. Now is the time to get involved and stay ahead of the game, no matter how large or small your business might be, no matter what industry you work in. Once you go digital, you’ll never want to travel for a meeting again.