Last week a friend told me a story that quickly spread throughout her global company. A number of executives were on a Zoom call. One woman on the call was likely unwinding from another stressful week. She had recently written a speech for their company president's televised meeting with President Trump. She had a very short timeline with frequent revisions.
Everyone was, of course, joining the meeting from their homes. With so many people new to this technology, I suppose this has played out multiple times in various settings. A short while into the call, a fellow executive sent her a private text message that her camera was on and if left on, she should likely be wearing more than just her underwear.
Separately, perhaps you saw SNL this past weekend, finally back from the video hiatus so many programs have been on. On the show, the woman takes her camera to the bathroom as her co-workers look on in horror and try to stop her from creating a visual they won't be able to unsee.
As the organizer of your meeting, you're unlikely to make that kind of mistake. But its hard to predict when you might need to be on a call, large or small, and need to be at your best. Some meetings carry more gravity than others. There are plenty of lurking surprises that you can avoid by being prepared. This can include video call coaching.
"Just dive in and make mistakes," is one line of thinking I've heard about doing online meetings and events. This can be good advice, depending on the situation. Consider this scenario…
You spend hours putting together an event. You have the date and time finally agreed to. You've set up the Zoom meeting and sent out the invitations. You have a good response from people anxious to participate. They are supportive, but also busy. It's your time to shine. You've rehearsed the event. You've timed out all of the segments and related graphics. You've taken steps to facilitate feedback via the chat and devised a way to monitor incoming comments and incorporate them into the event.
After all of that preparation and planning, you overlooked one detail and suddenly you have no audio. Or, you've recording the audio to post the event for others to watch, but it is distorted and fuzzy and impossible to listen to. And now it can't be recreated. The moment has passed.
In over 30 years of production, I've seen just about every mistake one can make - so you don't have to. Fortunately, I've avoided streaming from the toilet or meeting in my underwear…that I know of. Set up a free consultation to get checked out on the DynacomTV Webinar Cookbook (https://www.dynacomtv.com/calendar.html)
I first met Mark Cuban at an Infocomm show in Orlando in the late 90's. We had each finished our talks in the conference room there and the pressure was off for a moment. At the time I had just helped produced BP's first worldwide webcasts over their intranet. We were just starting to work with Mark's company, Broadcast.com, to expand our work for BP webcasting via other technologies. We had developed our own tools, but were impressed with what he had put together as a packaged service. We were not alone.
Mark was welcoming and focused. He told me he'd love to talk, but he was heading to the gym, and would I like to join him there for a workout. At the time, I had another appointment to get to and had to decline, but made plans to visit his offices in Dallas and he gave me his contact info. Mark was notorious for responding to emails (back then) and for that I was appreciative.
In Dallas, Mark had a cubicle, just like everyone else in their large work space. Well, I think Mark's cube was bigger than the others, but I was struck by his accessibility and openness. Eventually I left with my prized Broadcast.com denim shirt, something of a uniform there at the time. Within a couple of years, Mark sold the company for a reported $5.7 billion and went on to buy the Mavs.
Last night, Mark went on the air with CNN to talk about our new world. He is a great role model. I was struck by the fact that the guy who effectively invented video over IP was on screen with crappy lighting and virtually no thought to his backdrop (no green screen here). The information was in the audio, and there was no need to impress or create the notion he was anywhere else but on vacation with his family and taking a moment to speak to the nation.
There is a time and place for production value, but it is more important to deliver the message than it is to wait until conditions are perfect, with makeup and pro lighting. In this situation, the sound was clear and the message was delivered.
Consider your audience. Sometimes they just need real talk. If you have something important to say, let your voice be heard!
"Technical trouble spoils Joe Biden's first 'virtual town hall"
We want our leaders to succeed. That's why my brothers and sisters in television and video production are more important now than ever. Sure, we've slogged through major communications issues to bring the NBA, NFL, MLB, Olympics and other events for public viewing. But now, we have real messages to deliver. If you're planning an important event (from a simple Zoom meeting to a major announcement), consider to use professional technicians in your production. Some of the most talented, fun and friendly people I know and have had the privilege to work with are now available (for a limited time). Work with professionals!
Not to minimize the seriousness of this situation, but with the latest health concerns, companies are cancelling all non-essential travel. Many people will be producing their first ever webcasts and meetings. Even seasoned pros may just need a helping hand for an increased volume of events. Dynacom can help you with all aspects of planning and implementation. Contact us for more information.