Todd Tolbert, senior director, information technology, at the Internet Society, and Chris Parks, senior director, information technology, at the American Health Care Association, talk video teleconferencing.
What should people know before implementing a video conferencing system?
Tolbert: Two main things. First, the field is wide open. The technology is there. However you want to go about it, there are tons of solutions to pick from. Second, your culture will have to adapt to utilize these things, and that takes time. That's not a technology fix.
Parks: The first question is: What are you trying to do? What's your end goal? Do you want to do a one-on-one conference? Will it mostly be a manager conversing via videoconference with a staff member? Is it team oriented, where you have a weekly meeting with multiple parties around the country? Do you need to do international videoconferencing?
What advice do you have for associations launching this type of system?
Parks: Most of the vendors out there have free trials and have limited engagements that you can go through. Try them all out and figure out which is the best for you and what's the most cost-effective for you. Also, I will add training, training, training. I offer probably three or four training classes a year for staff on how to use our video conferencing solution effectively.
Tolbert: People sometimes get so wrapped up in what the video is going to look like that they don't think about what the audio is going to sound like. Consider things like echo cancellation. The last thing you want is someone on the remote end always telling a conference room full of people to mute the room because he or she is getting a bunch of feedback of their own voice.
For more on this topic, check out Parks and Tolbert's Learning Lab, "Embracing Video Teleconferencing in Your Association," at the 2014 ASAE Technology Conference & Expo, December 16–17.
[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "Seen and Heard."]