Why Host Online Consultations?
While traditional face-to-face consultations are still alive and well for store-front businesses, the online industry has opened new doors for consultants and professionals to conduct their business. In the online world, meetings go from an inconvenient form of communication that requires wasted travel time and money from both parties, to a simple video conference that can be hosted and attended from anywhere with an internet connection.
Online consultations are an extremely popular platform for business professionals, due to their efficacy as a communication tool. The convenience of being able to communicate from anywhere in the world has made them so popular they have begun to surpass traditional forms of communication and take over as the new norm.
AFFORDANCES & CONSTRAINTS
Reliability on Internet Connections & Quality – Online consultations are typically criticised for their dependence on high-speed internet connections. If you or your clients have poorer internet quality, it can appear laggy and unprofessional which can really hinder the overall quality of your consultation.
Losing Face-to-Face Contact – Many people really value the personalised kind of service you receive from a face-to-face consultation. Further, some consultants enjoy travelling to meet their clients, and experiencing not just the meeting, but other bonding activities and rituals that come with face-to-face consultations.
Time & Money Saving – Online consultations are first and foremost effective; in terms of dramatically reducing costs and saving time. No longer do you spend wasted time travelling between importants, taking time and effort away from the things that matter to you. Now you can connect anywhere, at any time on your own terms, saving you time to do the things you love.
Increased Client Base – as your physical location is no longer a barrier, online consultations allow you to build up a global client base. If you can market your business effectively and provide a quality service, the opportunities for increasing your client base are limitless.
Decide Your Working Hours – They allow you to take full control over the scheduling of your business, and while that may mean some unconventional hours, it also means freedom and more time to do the things you enjoy while still providing a great service.
Choose Your Office – perhaps the best thing about online consultations is that you can choose where you want to conduct your meetings from. Away on vacation? Commuting? Lazy day in bed? They can be done from anywhere with an internet connection.
All in all, it the constraints of face-to-face consultations are aided by the online consultation. While online consultations simply may not be suited to every businesses, they can dramatically reduce costs, improve your client base and give you more time to focus on other things.
TIPS & TRICKS
Knowing how to effectively conduct these calls can mean great things for your business, so it’s worth following these tips to discover how to take your video calls to the next level and ensure they are always successful.
Send reminder emails before the consultation
It’s best practice to send your attendees reminder emails an hour or so before the call to make sure they don’t forget and have time to prepare for the meeting if they do.
Tidy your area
Your area should be clean and distraction free. Make sure there’s nothing in the background that could be too distracting. If you are hosting your consultation in a public space, make sure you have your own space within that area, otherwise consider moving somewhere less busy.
Adjust your lighting
Make sure that there is a good amount of lighting in your area. Check that your light isn’t casting unflattering shadows or that you aren’t partially in the dark. Putting lighting that directly faces you behind your camera (and is unobstructed) usually eliminates any shadows.
Test your audio
Test your audio before the call begins. Check your microphone is working correctly. Check for outside noise that may be coming into the room. Make sure there’s no echo. If you are in a public space, make sure the background noise isn’t too overpowering or it could make for an incredibly unpleasant and difficult meeting.
Have a good internet connection
In most cases the quality of your internet connection is out of your hands. But as mentioned above, it is extremely important to be using the best connection you can get because it heavily affects the overall quality and clarity of the meeting. If you know you get better reception in certain areas – move there. If you are in public try to avoid shared connections. It’s best to conduct online consultations on a private, high-speed connection. The higher the quality the better the meeting and very little bit helps.
Choose your wardrobe carefully
Even though you may be conducting the call from home, you shouldn’t be dressed as though you are. Dress as if you’re meeting with someone in person. Further, it’s not common for you to see a television presenter wearing striped or patterned clothing and there’s a good reason for it. If your attendee’s internet connection isn’t great, patterns tend to get distorted and end up looking very distracting. Instead, go for a bold colour or something that contrasts your skin tone, this makes for overall better visibility.
Avoid obscure angles
When you have your camera angled up at your face, your face appears much wider than it is and tends to highlight some pretty unflattering features. On the other hand if you’ve got the camera placed too high and angled down, your viewers will predominantly see the top of your head and it will be difficult to see your eyes. Other than straight on, some suggest that the most flattering angle to have your camera at is at forehead height and slightly tilted down, this way you can see your whole face clearly.
Always talk to the camera
Even though it may seem natural to talk to the image of the person on your screen during your video call, it is considered rude to not make eye contact when addressing someone.
Try not to fiddle too much
Be expressive in your body language to emphasise your points and engage your viewer but try not to make your gestures too distracting. Appropriate gestures are things like simple hand movements. Avoid fiddly things such as tapping your feet and twirling your hair, or repeating the same gesture over and over again.
Don’t get distracted
Give your viewer your full attention. This means no email checking, no perusing the internet or anything of the kind. Even if you have other things you need to be doing, leave it till you’re finished with the consultation, otherwise you could make the other person feel extremely uncomfortable.
Do your research
Do you research about the client before the consultation in order to avoid embarrassment on either side. This means knowing their name, having a basic understanding of the viewer’s geographical location, as well as social and cultural knowledge about appropriate business etiquette, using correct titles and appropriate greetings.
Avoid using industry jargon
This one is particularly important because it is something so second nature to business communication. Jaron is often seen as exclusionary language. You want your attendee to feel comfortable and relaxed when they meet with you. You don’t want to risk seeming pompous or offensive so it’s best to avoid it altogether and go for a more casual approach at first.
Using humor and anecdotes can be particularly effective in online consultations as it helps to close the gap that’s sometimes created by distance communication. Engaging in lighthearted conversations can do wonders to improve your relationships with your clients.
Remember time zone differences
Online consultations will frequently involve you communicating with clients from different time zones (it’s one of their greatest benefits). Therefore, it’s important to keep these in mind when you’re interacting with each client. You don’t want to be calling them in the middle of the night, or missing meetings altogether because of it! Having a world clock is not a bad idea if you’re constantly communicating with people in different regions of the globe, as it will allow for synchronicity across all of your clients. Another key is scheduling. Have a strict plan with notes that remind you of important times to ensure you have something to help you keep on top of your meetings.
Take time to build your relationships
Your business will be far worse off if you are constantly trying to fast-track past the niceties and get straight into business in every meeting you have. These consultations provide you with a unique opportunity to get to know your clients on a more personal level and build familiarity, both of which are all-important parts of developing loyalty. If you want your business to remain successful and your clients to remain loyal, spend time building out your relationships.
Use the right technology
Make sure the technology you employ caters well to your clients. It needs to be accessible to clients all over the world, with solid connections and optimum speeds. Features such as booking calendars, file sharing, built in payment systems and automated email reminders is what puts Yondo ahead of the pack when it comes to video ecommerce. Instant messaging services like Slack and file sharing services such as Dropbox become imperative in order to maintain a strong line of communication between you and your clients.