Going Virtual


Back in the 1970’s (before many of you were born!) Bell Telephone advertised long-distance as “the next best thing to being there.” Today, in the world of internet and unlimited cellular connection we don’t even think in terms of long distance calling; it’s just normal. Still, a phone call does beat hopping a plane and attending a meeting 99% of the time. So, what is the “next best thing to being there” in today’s world?

  1. Pick up the Phone

Don’t send an email down the hall; walk down the hall (and get your Fitbit steps in to boot). Or pick up the phone. With speed dial, 4 digit dialing, and Siri it’s effortless and much more efficient.

  1. Use IM. Instant Messenger is available on basically every platform in the world. Within Outlook there is now the Skype for Business or Lync option. It’s so easy to send someone a quick message and get a quick response—assuming they have their side of the equation on (duh!). Or there’s Google Chat. Or Pidgen. Or…the options are endless. It’s actually much less intrusive to send me an IM than an email. This should replace 50% of emails.
  2. Use conference calls. I know. I hate them to. They are the multi-tasking Mecca. But truthfully, the main reason that people multi-task during conference calls is because they are pedantic, boring, irrelevant and poorly facilitated. The alternative to multi-tasking is to poke a fork in your eye. If you are going to do a conference call do it well. See the previous two posts in this series on how to run good meetings; the same principles apply to calls.
  3. Do a GoToMeeting or Webinar. Tons of technology exists to enable you to share screens from long distances. GoToMeeting,, Webex, JoinMe, and now both Skype and Lync have screen sharing and integrated calling features.
  4. Use live video interaction. Skype, Lync, GotoMeeting, Google Hangouts and many more enable participants to see and be seen. Assuming that good meeting rules are used this is my favorite way to communicate. Nothing beats being there but in today’s global market reality says that I can save a lot of money, a lot of time, a lot of physical wear and tear, and protect a lot of marriages by holding meetings virtually—online, with audio and video.

No doubt someone will say that the technology to hold virtual communications is expensive and hinky. Au Contraire! Any iPhone, Android, iPad, Surface, laptop or desktop can handle it assuming reasonable internet speed (which is pretty much everywhere). I, for one, am looking for virtual alternatives to every meeting that comes up. I don’t get there every time but I’m looking. Why don’t you try it?

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