How Virtual Meeting Rooms Are Beating Traditional BoardroomsEffective and efficient collaboration drives growth in companies, large and small, and no environment is more collaborative than a meeting room. Whether it’s for a sales pitch or to troubleshoot a business problem, meetings bring thought leaders together in a central location to make things happen. With companies becoming more IT capable, though, this “central location” is changing. No longer should the term “meeting” conjure images of large boardrooms, backs of heads, outdated video screens, and a primary, far-away speaker. The business world is moving out of boardrooms and into virtual meeting rooms, environments that marry collaboration and IT to maximize efficiency and make smarter use of company resources.

More Than Standard Videoconferencing

A host local or remote server and a Web browser plug-in make a virtual meeting room possible. Once logged in, those in the meeting can view a list of all the other participants. Audio and visual tools—like webcams and microphones—are often required.

The function of a virtual meeting room is similar to that of standard videoconferencing—colleagues get together in a virtual environment to collaborate. Often in a videoconference, though, at least part of the group is gathered in a physical location and is trying to engage with their virtual counterparts. While these setups do have substantial merit and provide utility to businesses with a high number of remote workers, it can be difficult to share content within a videoconference, and information can be lost quickly if not recorded.

Virtual meeting rooms, on the other hand, include many points of connection, as well as collaborative tools for participants that aren’t always available in a traditional videoconferencing setup. For example, virtual meeting rooms can include avatars to represent meeting-goers in instant message chats, or they can be figuratively “face-to-face” with one another through live audio/video thanks to VoIP technology. Participants can also utilize in-meeting apps that allow note sharing and host and review virtual polls.

The Benefits of Virtual Meeting Rooms

Virtual meeting rooms serve a number of purposes, standing out as key locations to perform the following functions:

• Training employees
• Hosting guest speakers
• Sharing important news
• Planning and strategizing
• Networking in conferences
• Hosting classes or collaborating on projects
• Sharing written or visual content (like documents and slideshows)

There are many functions of virtual meeting rooms, and there are also many benefits to choosing this form of collaboration. The primary advantage of utilizing virtual meeting rooms boils down to economics: If businesses can bring people together virtually and accomplish the same goal as a face to face meeting—even, perhaps, with more collaborative opportunities—they avoid the time and expense that would be required of physical travelers. Other benefits include the following:

• Companies don’t have to set up large displays for meetings or conventions.
• Meetings can be recorded, increasing knowledge retention and promoting accountability.
• The opportunities for global connectivity increase exponentially.
• Consistent virtual meetings with the same participants can facilitate relationship building and business growth.

In sum, virtual meeting rooms take the best of what today’s business IT has to offer and combines those features—like audio, video, messaging and file sharing—into a suite that fits nicely into business plans and budgets.

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