Remote Board Attendance Via Skype

I’ve been on a number of board calls this month while I’ve been in Paris. About half of them have been via Skype; the other half have been standard audio conferencing. I’ve also had a bunch of other meetings, discussions, and pitches via Skype.

The quality of the meeting and interaction – when all attendees are in person or via videoconference (in my case Skype on my laptop) – was 10x better than the ones via audio conference only.

I’ve been vacillating between a “physical attendance at all board meetings” approach or “video conference at all board meetings approach” to life. It’s impossible for me to physically attend all board meetings, but there’s no reason why I can’t attend by video conference. I’m now encouraging everyone I work with – as well as everyone that has a board meeting – to have a physical + video conference approach. It is so much better than having people on audio conference.

In several of the meetings, we simply set up Skype on a laptop and put the laptop at the end of the table. It’s a simple, low cost (free) solution, that works awesomely well. In one case, there was more than one person on Skype. Rather than try to do a Skype three-way (which works well also), the company simply set up two laptops with a separate Skype session on each. Skype audio seemed to work just fine in all cases but one, so we did an audio conference for voice and Skype for video.

While there will always be adhoc conference calls on short notice for boards that need to ratify something, for any meeting over an hour, or any scheduled meeting, putting the effort into getting everyone either physically there or on video makes a huge difference.

I know it sounds trite, but it’s remarkable how much better – even in a one on one conversation – the discussion is when it’s video instead of just audio. The calls are higher impact, body language is apparent, and people pay full attention rather than “minimally acceptable attention + email”.

We’ve been waiting for and talking about video conferencing for a long time. I think it’s really ready this time.

  • http://www.pointsandfigures.com pointsnfigures

    I have a more robust way of conducting business.  Gogette.com.  You might want to try it for your next remote board meeting. 

  • http://www.pointsandfigures.com pointsnfigures

    I have a more robust way of conducting business.  Gogette.com.  You might want to try it for your next remote board meeting. 

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  • http://learntoduck.com/ micah

    Give how spread out we are, we seem to always have someone (board, staff, observer, etc.) on video. We have been using fuzemeeting.com which lets us upload content (like a presentation), share screens, etc. and is like $60/month. To make sure that everyone in the company is used to using it, every Friday we have a “town hall” meeting, which everyone is required to attend (its a quick update, free lunch and an open Q&A session) where we use fuzemeeting. Our board meetings run extremely smoothly with someone remote and its great to have multiple people be able to run the same presentation, etc.

  • http://learntoduck.com/ micah

    Give how spread out we are, we seem to always have someone (board, staff, observer, etc.) on video. We have been using fuzemeeting.com which lets us upload content (like a presentation), share screens, etc. and is like $60/month. To make sure that everyone in the company is used to using it, every Friday we have a “town hall” meeting, which everyone is required to attend (its a quick update, free lunch and an open Q&A session) where we use fuzemeeting. Our board meetings run extremely smoothly with someone remote and its great to have multiple people be able to run the same presentation, etc.

  • http://learntoduck.com/ micah

    Give how spread out we are, we seem to always have someone (board, staff, observer, etc.) on video. We have been using fuzemeeting.com which lets us upload content (like a presentation), share screens, etc. and is like $60/month. To make sure that everyone in the company is used to using it, every Friday we have a “town hall” meeting, which everyone is required to attend (its a quick update, free lunch and an open Q&A session) where we use fuzemeeting. Our board meetings run extremely smoothly with someone remote and its great to have multiple people be able to run the same presentation, etc.

  • http://learntoduck.com/ micah

    Give how spread out we are, we seem to always have someone (board, staff, observer, etc.) on video. We have been using fuzemeeting.com which lets us upload content (like a presentation), share screens, etc. and is like $60/month. To make sure that everyone in the company is used to using it, every Friday we have a “town hall” meeting, which everyone is required to attend (its a quick update, free lunch and an open Q&A session) where we use fuzemeeting. Our board meetings run extremely smoothly with someone remote and its great to have multiple people be able to run the same presentation, etc.

  • http://learntoduck.com/ micah

    Give how spread out we are, we seem to always have someone (board, staff, observer, etc.) on video. We have been using fuzemeeting.com which lets us upload content (like a presentation), share screens, etc. and is like $60/month. To make sure that everyone in the company is used to using it, every Friday we have a “town hall” meeting, which everyone is required to attend (its a quick update, free lunch and an open Q&A session) where we use fuzemeeting. Our board meetings run extremely smoothly with someone remote and its great to have multiple people be able to run the same presentation, etc.

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  • http://tonepedia.com/blog Danny Strelitz

    I would check out the google + hangouts for video board meeting. Quality is great and the smart focus on the talker is also very good. One for skype is the ability to do a share my screen, but I am sure that both can be used at the same time or using MS live collaboration or google docs can be a solution as well

  • http://tonepedia.com/blog Danny Strelitz

    I would check out the google + hangouts for video board meeting. Quality is great and the smart focus on the talker is also very good. One for skype is the ability to do a share my screen, but I am sure that both can be used at the same time or using MS live collaboration or google docs can be a solution as well

  • http://tonepedia.com/blog Danny Strelitz

    I would check out the google + hangouts for video board meeting. Quality is great and the smart focus on the talker is also very good. One for skype is the ability to do a share my screen, but I am sure that both can be used at the same time or using MS live collaboration or google docs can be a solution as well

  • http://tonepedia.com/blog Danny Strelitz

    I would check out the google + hangouts for video board meeting. Quality is great and the smart focus on the talker is also very good. One for skype is the ability to do a share my screen, but I am sure that both can be used at the same time or using MS live collaboration or google docs can be a solution as well

  • http://tonepedia.com/blog Danny Strelitz

    I would check out the google + hangouts for video board meeting. Quality is great and the smart focus on the talker is also very good. One for skype is the ability to do a share my screen, but I am sure that both can be used at the same time or using MS live collaboration or google docs can be a solution as well

  • Andy Blackstone

    Brad, I’ve been using Skype for remote conversations with clients, and couldn’t agree more. Makes the conversation very different than audio alone. I’m much more effective in helping with issues that come up when both sides can see each other. Quality of the calls has been excellent.

  • http://www.feed.us RacerRick

    Every year my fantasy football league attempts to do our draft via video conference. Multiple computers running skype is really the only way it has worked decently but mostly it doesn’t work.

    This year we were going to try the AIM AV (http://www.aim.com/av/).

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Seems like a job for a Google+ Hangout!

  • Anonymous

    Video is 100x better than audio.  But in person is 1000x better than video.  The problem with video for Board meetings is that it works pretty well if one person is on video because that person has to miss traveling to the meeting.  But it doesn’t work nearly as well if two or three people have to use video, even with a high quality bridge system.  

    • DaveJ

      I concur, but for a different reason: I just don’t (personally) get much out of ANY meeting that isn’t conducted in person. Oh, I have a lot of calls, but they’re all for negotiating or selling something.  Board meetings are supposed to be about the CEO getting advice/value from the board, but when anyone is remote, it just becomes about “having the meeting.”

  • http://www.microsourcing.com/ MicroSourcing

    Skype is a big help to anyone who has a meeting in an offshore location, but the quality of the meeting depends on how strong the signal is in your area. Downtime can also be a problem, but after their international server failure, Skype is doing everything to keep the same thing from happening.

  • http://www.rvibe.com/category/updates/ Braydon

    Totally agree that using live, multi-way video makes the interaction much better than audio alone. When you can’t be in person, it’s the only way to go.  It’s even better when you have some kind of rich, synchronized content collaboration as well (I don’t mean simple PPT share).That said, I think it also requires improved technique, process and technology to pull it off for group meetings (board meeting – although you could do it for investor pitches too which would be super cool). Technology is a foundation, but there has to be a cultural development piece to the puzzle (to @micah ‘s point).

    We have a lot of clients using this kind of thing for in-field sales rep training and it’s a huge improvement and cost saver.

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  • http://twitter.com/robertvoliva Robert Voliva

    We use G+ Hangouts all the time (almost every night).  It’s so convenient and simple I don’t know why you *wouldn’t* want to use it.  We’d have to have a paid account with Skype to do the same thing.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      I tried to use G+ for the same think and the performance just wasn’t anywhere close to Skype.

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  • David Fleck

    I agree that video is better than just audio.  However, I will also state that it is uber important for boards to get together in person frequently, too.  That direct human interaction produces the best outcomes, allows individuals to disagree but achieve progress, etc.  Also, if the board is dispersed, there is also just an innate seriousness that comes with traveling to the board meeting (e.g. you spend time on the plane preparing) because you for damned sure want to have a high ROI on the time you are investing.  

    People can just ‘mail it in’ to an audio or video conversation.  

    My $0.02.  

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