The COVID-19 pandemic has forced much of the world to take their business online, and condominium corporation boards are no exception. Thanks to the necessity of social distancing, many board members have started exploring web conferencing software to continue meetings while protecting everyone's health.
Benefits of video conferencing
If you've never tried video conferencing, and especially if you're not technically savvy, the options might be overwhelming—but once you get the hang of it, you might never want to hold an in-person board meeting again. Here are some of the benefits of video conferencing:
· Convenience: Perhaps the biggest benefit of taking your condominium corporation board meetings online is the sheer convenience involved—since there's no travel time required, your board members can join the meeting from anywhere. This makes it more likely that you'll have better attendance and higher participation, since your members will need to take less time out of their days to contribute.
· Visual and audio communication: Conference telephone calls are a good tool, but when you can't see who's talking—and you're not familiar with their voices enough to tell—teleconferencing can quickly devolve into chaos. Video conferencing offers both visual and audio communication, allowing the participants to see who is talking at all times, lessening confusion and contributing to the meeting order. It also permits us to rely on visual communication like body language and facial expressions. When you're just listening to a person speak over the phone, it's harder to discern who is speaking and what their intent may be.
· Recording and screen-sharing capabilities. Video conferencing software has additional features that make it uniquely suited toward professional meetings. First, you can record the meeting for your minutes, making it simple to go back and access exactly what was said and decided upon anytime you need it. Second, you can share your screen, enabling you to share presentations, photographs and other visual aids, just as if you were using PowerPoint or handouts in a normal meeting.
Popular video conferencing software
Many of us have had to quickly become familiar with video conferencing software over the past couple months. Here's a closer look at some of the most popular options—if your default choice isn't all it's cracked up to be, alternatives are available:
· Google Meet: At Imperial Properties, we use Google Meet software to conduct our virtual board meetings. The free software has replaced Google Hangouts and can handle meetings of up to 250 people. You can share documents, use captions, call into the meetings and send chats during the conference.
· Zoom: Zoom has robust free options with time and attendance limits, and paid plans that start at just $15 per month. Like Google Meet, you can share your screen, chat with participants and control the chaos by muting attendees.
· GoToMeeting: GoToMeeting is a user-friendly option that offers a 14-day free trial. It shares many of the same features listed above, as well as the option to hold webinars and mobile access.
· Microsoft Teams: If your board uses Microsoft Office programs, this video conferencing tool seamlessly integrates with them while offering many of the same features listed above. However, it costs $5 per user per month.
Whichever video conferencing software you use, we recommend sending out an email with an agenda and basic guidelines, such as "please mute your microphone when someone else is talking." With a little preparation, the convenience of technology will keep you all connected long after the pandemic is over.