Archive for July, 2017

The ABC of Online Meeting Participation

July 14th, 2017

In a world where herds of employees have been transformed into remote workers, knowing how to be a successful online meeting participant is important. Especially if you crave for success as a digital freelancer.

In a world where freelancers made up 35% of US workforce in 2016 (Forbes, https://www.forbes.com/sites/elainepofeldt/2016/10/06/new-survey-freelance-economy-shows-rapid-growth/#4b533e847c3f) , knowing how to behave during online meetings is a matter of life and death.

So, in this article I have taken down the most important best practices for online meeting participants, with the hope to help digital nomads, freelancers and remote workers to make the most of their participation to video and audio conferences.

1 Be active. Like in real-life meetings, during online meetings you shall be active and give your contribution, no matter how important it is. Wallflowers have been never welcomed; on the contrary, being able to add value to meetings has been always the first step to success.

2 Respect good manners. That politeness always wins on rudeness goes without saying, doesn’t it? But what are the rules of etiquette in a digital world? They are quite similar to those of real-life meetings. So, give the other participants respect by arriving on time, paying attention to speakers, avoiding butting in, waiting your turn to speak, and respecting the dress code. Nothing so different from the old, traditional meetings around a table, after all.

3 Prepare yourself before. Study the topic before and prepare some questions. Prepare your answers to the possible questions that some other participants could ask you.

4 Check and know how to use your technology.  Virtual meetings rely on a more or less complicated technology. Before entering a conference, check that everything is fine with your cam, computer, laptop, headsets, microphone and conferencing tool. Don’t look clumsy; illiteracy on the tech matter is not much appreciated today.

5 Be an active listener. Pay attention to speakers, and try to retain what they say. This will help you to come up with some few questions or a contribution later. If not, you will have fulfilled your obligations as participant to the meeting at least.

6 Invite other participants to contribute. If it occurs that you end up leading a meeting for any reason, don’t panic. A good strategy is to invite other participants to contribute by asking them their opinions on the topic of the moment.

7. Ask questions. When in doubt, ask questions. Often the meeting leader can’t wait for that, as questions break monotony and make meetings lively and productive.

8. Make a revision after the meeting. It is always useful to check your behavior after the meeting in order to understand what work for you and what does not.

In conclusion, being a good participant to an online meeting requires the same dedication of real meetings. The rules are similar, except for those few rules expressly connected with technology.

If you are interested in on-line meeting strategies, you are going to find many other resources on R-HUB`s blog at http://www.rhubcom.com You can also enjoy a free period of 30 days when you can test your ability as online meeting leader by hosting some web video conferences through R-HUB web video conferencing servers.

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The ABC of Virtual Team Management

July 13th, 2017

Managing a virtual team can turn out more difficult than expected. Luckily, there are some few best practices that help.

Managing virtual team implies to face a whole host of challenges, from lack of face-to-face communication to working across different time-zones. Luckily, some few best practices for remote managers have been developed in the last few years. We have summarized them up in the following list of tips.

1) Prepare a welcome manual to provide your new hires with all the necessary information about how to do things. This will help you to save a lot of time and make your new hires more productive and less questioning since the beginning.

2) Utilize some operational documents during each step of the process, so that everybody knows what have to be done next.

3) Include in your welcome manual a Communication handbook, or, better, create it as a separate manual. Here, you will lay down the directions on how to communicate with other team members.

4) Hand out a contact information sheet, or make it available as shared document to every team member.

5) Hold regular virtual meetings both individually and with the whole team. It is the only way to create cohesion within your team.

6) Make periodic reviews to inform your team members about their individual progresses. In the reviews, measure individual and team performances, in order to give adequate feedback.

7) From time to time, have some face-to-face time with your team members in order to build confidence and strengthen relations.

8) Consider time difference. You’d better change meeting times frequently, in order to avoid making the same people wake up early or stand up late.

9) Hire the right kind of workers. Select only people that are really cut out for virtual teams through a test period.

Tools are important for virtual teams. It is necessary to have an instant messenger, screen sharing, screen capture, cloud file sharing, and other collaboration tools. You’d better opt for an all-in-one solution, like R-HUB`s web video-conferencing servers http://www.rhubcom.com , rather than creating a confusing, contradictory and often difficult to manage personal set of various apps.

R-HUB has a suite of servers purposely designed for real time collaboration that gives you all the necessary functionalities to hold and manage your real time conferences. The utilization of a new technological approach allows R-HUB to knock down delays to 3-18 seconds only (usually they are 30-40 seconds) in their live streaming servers, in order to enhance interactivity.

Live interventions during a conference are supported, so that your virtual meeting looks as real as possible, and contents are shown on the whole desktop for a more effective communication. Differently from traditional live streaming products, speakers can be located everywhere in the world.

Last, don’t forget to develop the proper mindset for virtual team. The feeling of being isolated from the team can be fought by appreciating and celebrating team members’ achievements. If you manage a team composed of people from any corner of the world, working on flexible schedules is a real necessity as well as accepting all cultural differences and setting the hours when you are available online in case of need.

In conclusion, managing a virtual team takes more work than a local team, but it can be affordable. Just keep in minds these simple tricks and good practices when building your virtual team.

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The Secret of Live Stream Video Technology Attractiveness

July 11th, 2017

Live stream video technology has been recently rediscovered by institutions and individuals, at the point that today it is one of the most popular media artifacts. What is behind its success?

When it was given by Hulu the possibility to watch The White House Correspondents Dinner in real time, the success was high, and this only one of the dozens of examples of successful live-stream video events. Today, organizations of any kind try to exploit live stream video technology, especially for commercial purposes: for example, to create new brands, like Esperian, or to enhance the promotion of traditional brands, as Nissan did with its Maxima launch at the New York auto show in 2016.

So, why does it work? The answer is enclosed in one word: liveliness. Remote viewers are promised to have a similar experience of those who are going to attend the event for real, despite the fact that they are not actually present. Coming deeper into the concept of liveliness, we find out that liveliness is composed of two main components: the illusion of presence and remediation from TV. These two factors are equally balanced in making live-stream events so captivating and alluring.

The Illusion of Presence

When viewers watch a live stream video, their point of view is the one of the camera that works as a kind of proxy viewer from them. In other words, it is as if they were physically present at the event, or, to say it better, they has the illusion of being physically present. This effect is what is also called telepresence.

Naturally, it works in the measure that the stream is seamless and smooth, without any disruptions. This is the reason why the choice of the technology is important. For example, the new R-HUB`s live streaming servers http://www.rhubcom.com/v5/live-streaming.html are able to reduce the delay to 3 seconds only (usually the value ranges from 30 to 40 seconds).

The TV Remediation

Remediation is described as “the mix of older cultural conventions for data representation, access and manipulation, and newer conventions” (Lev Manovich). In other words, TV remediation is a combination of elements taken by traditional TV broadcast and newer forms coming from the internet.

In this way, live stream video technology reinvents the web by remediating what has gone before on TV. The effect is that viewers are going to experience something that is old and familiar at the same time, the live TV-broadcast of the past reinvented for the web. Nothing could be more reassuring.

The Charm of Direct Interaction

The main difference with the old live TV-broadcast is that viewers can have live interactions with the speakers during modern live-stream video events through the internet. It is sufficient to combine live stream video technology with web conferencing, as R-HUB has done in its latest severs.

The benefit is that the illusion of presence becomes even stronger, not to mention the level of engagement of the public that really peaks up. In facts, it is proved by some Harvard University researches that direct interaction is a great way to involve people (source: http://healthland.time.com/2012/05/08/why-we-overshare-the-brain-likes-it/ ).

This is the reason why this new medium is growing popular in organizations, as it allows real dialogues between managers, salesmen and customers. This latest feature is particularly important in some new marketing strategies, like the above-given example of the creation of the brand Esperian.

In conclusion, live stream video technologies combined with video conferencing could have an increasingly important role in the digital economy. The extent of its use is quite wide and includes areas as marketing, product promotion, remote collaboration, and remote team management.

The secret behind its success is its allure that is based on liveliness, a mix of telepresence and remediation from TV. However, the reliability of the live stream video technology that is used is crucial, as even the smallest disrupt could break the thin illusion of distant viewers that they are being present for real at their far events. And without this magic, live streaming is useless.

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How to choose the Best Live Stream Solution for your Video Conferences

July 7th, 2017

Live stream video conferences enable speakers to use powerful tricks to engage their audiences, like having outside guests, or even allowing participants to intervene and speak live. How to choose the best live stream tool? Here come a short report on the different solutions that are available on the market today.

What could do better than a live talk-show, in order to engage your audience? According to some Harvard University researches, people love to talk about themselves and share their experiences with the world (source: http://healthland.time.com/2012/05/08/why-we-overshare-the-brain-likes-it/ ). Luckily, to live stream a talk-show is not an excessively complicated affair.

The best solution is naturally to use a specific product for the purpose, like R-HUB`s live streaming servers http://www.rhubcom.com/v5/live-streaming.html .

Designed specifically for real time-collaboration, R-HUB`s servers are silent and compact, and very easy to set and use. They allow your participants to have live interventions, the most requested feature of this kind of products.

A strong point of R-HUB`s live streaming servers is that speakers can be located everywhere in the world. This is a great advantage in comparison with traditional live stream products which can broadcast contents from one physical location only.

The content is shown on the entire desktop, in order to maximize the message impact on the targeted audience. Interactivity is much enhanced by knocking down delays to a range among 3 – 18 seconds depending on the network conditions, and security is the highest thanks to the choice of the on-premise server based technology.

A second option is to use some special software, in order to incorporate your guests from outer sources into your live stream. The advantage of this solution is flexibility: you can use your existing Skype, Hangout or other video call solution accounts, and go with software for the whole process without buying any single piece of hardware.

Among the software that makes you reach this result, we mention OBS Studio and Wirecast. They both allow you to add a video chat to your live stream, and they work pretty much in the same way. The difference is that OBS Studio is more difficult to use than Wirecast, even though it is to be said that the addition of vMix (an external paid utility) makes the process much easier.

A problem with software based live streaming solutions is the frame delay: it can be unreliable, as it is much dependent on several factors (like the browser and the network conditions).

A third option is to buy some kind of dedicated software for live stream integration of video chats. For example, vMix Call, an evolution of the basic version of vMix. The advantage on the second option is that you have a fully integrated live video streaming tool that is generally intuitive to use and does not require long setting preliminary processes.

In conclusion, live-streaming your talk-show is now possible without much pain and problems, on the condition to have the right tool at hand.

While R-HUB`s live streaming servers offer you an easy-to-use, fully integrated and inexpensive solution which merges video conferencing and live streaming together, other products simply enable you to fumble your video chat into live stream process in a more or less complicated way. They are more flexible, but the price to pay is a tricky setting process and a lower level of security and stream quality.

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