Avoid Meeting Glitches with a Checklist


A few minutes often separates success from failure. Personally the Be Prepared motto has served me well. Every pilot knows not to start their engines before stepping through the pre-flight checklist. The Checklist Manifesto generalized this approach from aviation to complex high value activities like surgery. IT folks usually don’t hold people’s lives in their hands, but anomalies impacting our CEO or VP certainly may put our jobs on the line.

Skype Meeting Broadcast shattered the old 250 attendee barrier. When all goes well, you save your company significant production fees. The challenge is to avoid glitches which can easily disrupt a critical meeting. Below is a checklist to ensure successful broadcast and regular Skype for Business meetings:

  • Know your network. As a rule, always use a wired network connection and turn off Wi-Fi. By running a speed test in the meeting room you can get a point in time measurement. If wired is not feasible, then insure that your access point is broadcasting on 5Ghz. You also need to avoid sources of interference such as microwaves or cordless phones. The bars in the client will give you real time feedback on the network. Consider dropping video if the network cannot keep up.
  • Use certified AV equipment, preferably wired devices connected directly to the computer. The best devices have built-in echo cancelling technology. For video, use a free standing tripod to avoid table motion. Avoid backlight and noisy backgrounds. Make sure that the microphone has a short clear line of site to the speaker.
  • Verify that your computer has the latest version of everything especially drivers and Skype for Business. Why experience a bug that’s already fixed?
  • Use a higher performance computer. Open task manager to verify that another process is not using excessive: CPU, memory, disk or network. For example, perform an antivirus scans and Windows Update well before the meeting is scheduled to begin. Close any applications you don’t absolutely need.
  • Perform a dress rehearsal using the same room at a similar time of the day.
  • Join the meeting early along with someone remote to verify the AV and sharing.
  • Upload your PowerPoint slides to insure that if something goes wrong, everyone else will still have the slides. The next best option is to share your screen with the resolution set to 1024x768 pixels or 800 x 600 pixels portrait for tablets.
  • Have one computer join the meeting per room which will eliminate the chance of echo.
  • Avoid background noise by muting everyone except the speaker. You can schedule your meeting with the “Mute all attendees” meeting option set. As a participant, don’t be bashful in muting those who are disrupting the meeting.

Skype Meeting Broadcast requires these additional checks:

  • Create a test meeting with participants located in critical locations to ensure that Skype Meeting Broadcast is correctly setup for your organization and that the needed URLs are not blocked by filtered by a proxy server.
  • After scheduling the meeting, customize the Attendee page settings by clicking on the Customize link. Under Troubleshooting and support choose the Custom link button. Copy the default URL in the URL text box. In the Link text box, add something like: “IM <alias> for help.”
  • Create a shortened URL for attendees and schedule a backup meeting. In the event of a catastrophic event, all you need to do is to start the backup meeting then update the URL.
  • Limit attendees to the inner meeting and meeting room to speakers and producers.
  • Have someone monitor the attendee view to insure that the experience is optimal.
  • If multiple video feeds will be used, do extensive rehearsal to test out the network and equipment. A scripted agenda will enable the producer and speakers to know when each person will speak.
  • Question & Response works well through Yammer. Senior leaders who aren’t speaking can answer questions and filter which questions to send to the speakers to answer. A designated person in the room can then ask the question to create a more dynamic interview style presentation. The first few questions may take time so you should start with some known questions.

Help us help everyone to have outstanding meetings by sharing your best practices.

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