June 01, 1998
Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio June 1998 Current Issue
June 1998 ChecklistPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:



This checklist was compiled with the help of Michelle Mitterer, director, Executive Conference Center, Sheraton New York (City) Hotel & Towers, and networkMCI Conferencing, 8750 West Bryn Mawr Ave., Suite 900, Chicago, Ill. 60631


  • One-way videoconferencing: Uses a two-way audio system and a one-way video system, allowing attendees to view and hear the speaker and the speaker to hear and respond to audience comments. This setup is ideal when the objective is to deliver critical information to a large audience. Keep in mind that satellite transmissions are not 100 percent secure.
  • Interactive videoconferencing: Uses both two-way audio and video capabilities, allowing small groups to view, speak and respond to one another. However, the more participants, the more difficult and costly it is to facilitate participation and interaction.
  • If your meeting is heavy on audio and requires little or no visuals, consider a traditional teleconference, which is far less costly to execute because it does not require video.

  • Provide all participants with the meeting agenda. Include conference date, time, time zone, complete list of scheduled participants and a meeting contact name and phone number.
  • Make sure each speaking participant has a clear understanding of his role in the conference.
  • Build in time for audience interaction, which will help give the meeting a more traditional feel.
  • Provide participants with instructions to follow in the event of technical problems or a disconnection.
  • Consider using a facilitator to ensure full participation, especially if more than two sites are involved.
  • Advise participants to avoid wearing anything too distracting, such as clanking and/or flashy jewelry, or boldly striped or flowered clothes.
  • Plan for time zone differences.
  • Request that all participants be ready 10 minutes prior to actual start time.

  • Prepare the conference room at least 30 minutes before the meeting.
  • Be sure video equipment is on and functioning.
  • Adjust camera angles. For optimal picture quality, not more than 10 percent of the total picture should appear above the speaker's head.
  • Keep curtains and blinds closed to reduce glare.

  • For interactive videoconferences, introduce the speakers and attendees from each site before beginning. State the purpose and agenda of the videoconference.
  • To maximize conference time, stick to the agenda as closely as possible.
  • To avoid distracting background noises, which can affect audio quality, place non-speaking participants in a "listen-only" mode until it is their turn to speak, or until a designated question-and-answer period.
  • Encourage participants to address other conference participants by name when responding to questions to avoid confusion during interaction.
  • Organize presentations in short segments to help the audience better retain information to which they would like to respond.
  • Make the most of highly visual printed materials such as colorful charts and graphs to communicate key points, and use clear vocal cues before introducing new material.
  • Avoid sending unintended signals with careless body language, such as pencil tapping, chair swiveling and finger drumming, which may convey anxiety or boredom. Also, remember lips can be read during videoconferences.
  • Speakers should anticipate some voice delay with international link-ups and time their responses so they do not overlap with incoming comments.

  • Distribute minutes of the meeting to all participants.
  • Invite those who didn't attend to listen to or view an audio or videotape of the conference at their leisure.
  • Notes:

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