As consultants with clients around Austin and in different cities around the country, we here at ArgonDigital are often required to hold and run online meetings. We have found that desktop sharing applications are an invaluable tool for remote collaboration and can make the difference between a ho-hum meeting and one that is truly productive. While I’m sure this is true for folks working in almost any area or industry, ArgonDigital’s emphasis on using RML models as a requirements elicitation technique makes the ability to share visual content with meeting participants real-time almost a necessity for me and many of my colleagues. Most organizations I have worked with use some sort of enterprise-grade web conferencing application, and while I have found that I like some more than others, I am not here to praise one more than any others (besides, there are already numerous sites out there that do exactly that…you can find a few here , here, here, and here). Rather, I’d like to share some general tips and tricks for running successful web presentations, as well as talk about how BAs can use web presentations to make their elicitation meetings more successful.
Tip #1 – Prior to the meeting, send out a “hard copy” of any documentation you plan to display
Inevitably, someone will be unable to log in to the web conference and will need to follow along using an offline version. Sending out the documentation prior to the meeting means you won’t have to take time at the beginning of your meeting forwarding that person the file—you can get right down to business.
Tip #2 – Close out all IM programs, mail applications, etc.
Unless these are an important part of your meeting—I don’t know, maybe you’re showing an email from a colleague—close out of any program that flashes notifications up on your screen. An Outlook reminder for your next meeting is at best distracting and potentially awkward depending on who it’s with and what it’s about. Similarly, an unexpected IM from a colleague during an online presentation can be distracting to everyone involved, and potentially incredibly embarrassing depending on what the content of the IM is. Does your colleague want to get a beer after work? Or maybe complain about someone attending the online meeting? It’s best to close all windows and programs that might distract you during your meeting and find out after the meeting is over!
Tip #3 – Use as big a monitor as possible and avoid running online web meetings on a laptop screen
It will be really tough to view what you’re showing if you’re using a small screen to do it. Some web conferencing applications allow participants to zoom in on their own displays but that distorts the resolution of what you’re showing and makes it look fuzzy or blurry. Use a true monitor whenever possible to make it as easy and comfortable on your participants as you can.
Tip #4 (Business Analyst specific!) – Use a Web conference to update RML models real-time
Updating a visual model that you’re reviewing with project stakeholders can help you get instant validation that your model is correct, assuming you have the Visio skills to make it work. It lets you make corrections while they watch so that they can validate your changes, provide feedback, and ideally sign off on the completed version, all before the end of the meeting! Then, all you need to do is send them the final version after the meeting. However, if you are not confident in your ability to make updates efficiently and gracefully, it is best to record any suggested updates as meeting notes and then make the changes after the meeting, since attempting to do so during the meeting could stall the conversation and take up valuable meeting time that would be better spent on discussing the topic at hand.
Have you done web presentations? What other tips and tricks do you have? Leave a comment!