The Recommended Approach
1. Stick with what works.
If you can find a video solution that works for your internal team, use that most.
We have video conferencing services we like and use regularly. Everyone on the team knows how they work, and what to try when the connection gets rough. It isn’t always perfect, but it’s familiar enough that when we do have problems, we know how to quickly troubleshoot them and get back on track.
Sometimes video isn’t appropriate (odd hours of the day, when we travel, etc) and video fails often enough that we’re always ready to switch to an audio-only option. Our team can start with video because we can recover quickly – quickly enough that it doesn’t wreck our meeting if we need to jump to another service.
For us, the easiest to use and most reliable fall-back option is the integrated TurboBridge number.
2. Be prepared with at least 3 conferencing alternatives.
You can only save a call by switching to another service if you have one at the ready.
Every professional running online meetings should have and know how to use:
- A videoconferencing service
- A real conference calling service, with options for computer audio, international and toll-free dial-in numbers
- A direct-dial number
3. When meeting with new people outside your team, start with a dial-in number and a have a backup plan.
When we meet with someone outside our team, we always start with web audio and a basic phone number first. If there aren’t very many people on the call, we might then ask if it’s OK for us to switch to video.
Why start with audio-only if you really want to use video? Because you don’t want to spend the first 10 minutes of your client call teaching them how to turn on their camera.
Dial-in numbers are less convenient, but make up for this by having a tendency to always work. Your client may dial the number or code wrong a few times, and that can be frustrating for everyone. They won’t, however, be as likely to run into problems downloading software, navigating network outages that drop the call, awful echo, software that freezes up on their older machines, confusion trying to get their microphone plugged in and setup correctly, and all the other issues you had to work through when you first started using video conferencing with your team.
Of course, if you can work out that your attendees prefer Skype in advance (for example), go for it. Just don’t assume up front that they’ll be able to use whatever it is you use.