All posts by Samantha Morgan

Samantha Morgan - or Sam to friends - is the Senior Product Manager at ReadyTalk. Sam geeks out on understanding how ReadyTalk can help marketers share their best ideas with their audience, and take the stress out of webinars. She also works with our customers and partners to build integrations with the ReadyTalk platform, including Salesforce, Marketo, Eloqua and more.

3 bad habits that prevent collaboration

Collaboration is important at every company, as it drives the innovation that ultimately improves products and services. However, certain behaviors can detract from productive team work. Make sure you don't exhibit any of the ones below:

1. Being quick to reject other people's ideas

Meaningful collaboration depends on a safe space for team members to share their thoughts without fear of being shot down regardless of how "out there" those thoughts are, said Dan Sines, CEO of Traitify, a developer of personality assessments. While honesty is important, how you respond to others' ideas has a big impact on your employees' confidence levels. Avoid using negative language, and instead, focus on the positives. Remember, there are no wrong answers, just different ways of looking at the same question, and employees should be recognized for having the guts to share their ideas.

2. Pledging allegiance to the rules 

The most successful brainstorming comes when people let go of rules and expectations and instead think outside the box with no limit to their imaginations. In a business setting, it's easy to fall into the trap of encouraging or considering only ideas that fit into existing workflows. Of course, there are limits to what companies can achieve, and protocols provide order in chaos. However, the best ideas for your organization may be lurking outside of the rules. Encourage out-of-the-box creative thinking, and if something brilliant and unorthodox is thought of, that proposal may be worth tweaking your standard processes. 

3. Randomly building teams 

What scenario do you think is more likely to produce meaningful collaboration: a bunch of random employees who have never exchanged more than two words with each other or a group of workers who are already well-connected? It's the latter, according to the Harvard Business Review. The publication found that when 20-40 percent of team members have established relationships with each other, the group experiences more effective collaboration from the get-go due to the networks of trust that have developed. Take this point into account when assembling project teams, and if you find strong relationships lacking, host company events to increase interaction and help a higher number of employees get to know one another. 

So many companies know that productive collaboration is integral to their success, but so few know how to actually make it happen. By working on your bad habits, you can begin fostering a collaboration-friendly culture at your organization. 

How to optimize productivity in meetings with remote workers

Having remote workers enables you to get the best talent on your team, no matter where it's located. But for telecommuting arrangements to actually be an advantage for your business, you need effective connectivity and collaboration with your remote employees. 

Many managers already struggle to hold meetings that engage in-office workers, let alone those located on the other side of the country or world. But don't sweat it; with the easy productivity practices below, you can make sure meetings with remote workers are worthwhile. 

Use video instead of audio-only meetings 

Video meetings and web conferences are the way to go when it comes to connecting with your remote workforce. They enable face-to-face communication, which helps remote workers feel like they're in the loop and part of the team. These tools improve understanding because you're able to see facial cues and not just hear someone's voice. And as organizational effectiveness consultant Shani Magosky noted in a post for InsideOut Development, these types of remote meetings reduce the chance that employees multitask while in the meeting – so no worries that they're answering emails or working on other projects while you talk.

Keep it action-oriented 

When you have remote workers scattered around the world, with each one potentially following a unique schedule, it's important that meetings bring your company closer to its goals in tangible ways. Make sure every meeting has a clear goal and purpose; for example, find a solution to a workflow issue, de-bug a tech problem or decide on next steps for a project. Even more "abstract" activities like brainstorming can have concrete objectives drawn from them, such as aiming to come up with X number of product ideas to present to upper-level management. Participants should go into the meeting knowing exactly what they need to do and come out knowing their next steps. 

Share materials seamlessly 

Remote workers shouldn't feel far away, and with video conferencing tools that enable you to seamlessly share relevant materials, they won't. Share online content, presentations, sales pitches, product demos and more during video meetings with remote workers to take collaboration and productivity to the next level. 

With the innovative platforms available today, remote workers are closer than ever. Use these tips to boost productivity in meetings with your telecommuters. 

State of the Webinar in 2017: It’s Time to Shake Things Up

Webinars have been a trusted tool for marketers and lead gen pros for quite some time, but we find ourselves at a crossroads this year. Research gives us every indication that marketers are using webinars in full force and to great effect. But that may not be the case for much longer if we don’t take an in-depth look at where webinars stand and how they can be improved, rather than exhausted. Through our work with customers and prospects, we’ve observed and distilled five key trends that constitute the “State of the Webinar in 2017.”

 

Engagement is imperative.

 

We spent a week at Marketo Summit (read our full set of learnings here), where there was a clear theme: Customer engagement needs to replace marketing. Nowhere is that more true than in webinars. Audiences are no longer willing to sit through a sales pitch to get to the meat of the presentation. Even presentations are evolving radically, and are moving away from static slides (no matter how beautifully designed) accompanying speakers droning on for 50-60 minutes. Framing the webinar as a conversation rather than a presentation, with 30 minutes (or less) of speaking followed by a balanced amount of Q&A time, is an emerging trend. We’ve even seen experiments that mix live and pre-recorded segments so the presenter can engage real-time with the audience via chat or social, providing additional value during the event.

 

Video makes its way into webinars.

 

This probably isn’t a shock, but video is showing up in webinars more frequently than ever, just like any other online channel. Making a webinar video-centric goes a long way toward making it more intellectually and visually engaging. It modernizes the look and feel of the content far beyond the capabilities of traditional slides. Don’t be surprised when you start seeing more “fireside chats” or one-on-one interviews when you join webinars. Now that video streaming technology (both live and pre-recorded) has achieved more reliable quality and scale, video is undoubtedly going to reign supreme in the webinar realm.

 

Everything’s gone mobile; webinars are no exception.

 

As part of the Future of Work Movement, webinar attendees aren’t always consuming content in a standard office setting on a desktop, and often aren’t tuning in to the webinar at the scheduled time. This will be the year that mobile support for on-the-go webinar consumption becomes absolutely critical for vendors. We’re predicting that mobile browser-friendly dashboards and content will prevail over forcing people to download yet another app to attend or re-watch a webinar on their mobile devices. Because the end goal is always to make the interface and experience as simple and frictionless as possible for the end user, expect to see more integrations with single sign-on (SSO) providers, as they work particularly well across mobile platforms.

 

Not all industries are created equal.

 

We’ve primarily talked about trends on the cutting edge of webinars, but the reality is that not every company or industry has utilized webinars for as long as others. Even in 2017, there’s a broad spectrum of use cases and experience, ranging from companies just kicking off a webinar program to those embracing a video-first mindset. The hospitality, legal, healthcare and public sectors tend to be more fledgling in their familiarity with webinars and are still navigating their way through strategies and decisions that other industries (like high tech) faced three to five years ago.

Advancing analytics will always be a top priority.

 

The years go by, but marketers and lead gen experts still crave the same thing: the latest and greatest way to measure a webinar’s effectiveness and extended ROI as part of the sales funnel. Basic metrics (like attendance duration, chat questions asked and link clicks) have been available for a while, but as webinars and content enter the era of engagement, analytics must evolve too. This is the year of connecting the dots and reaching real webinar insights, rather than making assumptions based on discrete . Try ReadyTalk, and see how webinars can help you reach your marketing goals.

My First Webinar – From Panic to Calm

Have you ever been asked to recommend someone to do something, that isn’t in your comfort zone, and you panic, because the recommendation is you? That happened to me. A member of our Marketing team asked for a recommendation for a speaker to talk about and demo our new product, ReadyTalk Illuminate – Replay. The correct answer was me. Afterall, I’m the Product Manager. Panic washed over me. I had never been a speaker on a webinar. To add to my anxiety, the webinar was slated to be done live. I gave a noncommittal answer, said I needed time to think about it, and, as a well-trained Product Manager, asked for the deadline.

Drew, Robyn and Sam talking about the webinarAfter getting over my panic and getting a, “You know the right answer” nudge from my manager, I committed. As we planned the event, and my anxiety didn’t subside, it dawned on me. “Why not use Illuminate – Replay?” A Replay about Replay! My anxiety turned into sheer giddiness. Without much selling, my co-worker agreed. Then, the team changed. Our webinar pro was no longer available. The new team responsible for this webinar included two webinar newbies, and one person who hadn’t conducted webinars in a while. Using Replay sounded like an even better idea now.

Replay enabled us to laugh, joke and enjoy the experience

We decided to do an interview style discussion, a demo, and then the big Replay reveal. The preparation ended up being a planning session, a recording session for the interview portion, a recording of the product demo, and a review of the edited recordings. We all had some angst going into the planning session, which was supposed to be our recording session. By the end, we were laughing and joking. I looked forward to the recording session. During the recording session , it was awesome to be able to redo the bloopers (and to laugh at them). Not having the stress and pressure of being live was even better.

I recorded the product demo portion of the event on my own time. I loved being able to fix mistakes and produce the demo about which I felt good. Again, I appreciated not having the added pressure of being live.

Instead of stress, the day-of was fun

On the day of the event, all three of us went about our normal morning work in the morning. We met 15 minutes before the start of the event. I had butterflies, which was silly. I only needed to monitor and respond to chats. The rest of the work was done. My webinar-experienced coworker shared that normally the morning would be filled with nothing but preparation for the event along with a lot of stress and anxiety. Instead, the three of us had childlike excitement with an overall sense of calm. We discussed what a strange set of feelings those were.

We continued to be productive in that 15 minute pre-event window. When the event started, we began whispering to each other. We burst out laughing. We didn’t need to whisper. No one could hear us. We monitored chats and even did some brainstorming. Another realization came to us, we could be interacting with our attendees right then. We started posing questions in chat to spark a conversation. We didn’t get a lot of chats during the interview segment. Once the demo started, a few attendees started asking questions. We responded in the moment.

Great feedback about the webinar

After the big reveal, that our event was a Replay, we asked if the attendees noticed. We received some great feedback – all positive. There were no concerns with the fact that it was pre-recorded. We also received some very humorous chats.

Webinars can be stress-free

The whole experience was pleasant and positive. I loved that experience and the feelings I had leading up to, during, and after the event.

My main takeaway: webinars can be fun and stress-free. I will never shy away from doing another webinar again … as long as I can pre-record it.

For more about Replay

For more about Replay or webinar referenced here, watch below.