Dr Paul Duignan on Outcomes: More on room visualization. Increasingly I've been doing day-long virtual meetings with groups using the DoView Outcomes-Focused Visual Strategic Planning approach. It keeps travel costs down and it means that I don't have to waste any time or stress traveling. 

You have to concentrate more as it's somewhat more 'abstract' than actually being in the room with people - being physically present grounds you in a way because you are actually in the room with them.

Going virtual, it's even more important that you get serious about setting up the room for visualization. When doing a virtual session the normal room visualization issues I blogged about the other day apply just as they do for a real-world meeting.

As an aside, maybe we need some new terms for this virtual versus real-world distinction. The problem is that being virtual is now no less real-world because virtual is increasingly becoming our day-to-day real-world. For some of us it's becoming more important that the old real-world. 

Regarding the audio, I usually don't try to use computer audio unless some Tech has set it up properly at the other end. I use a phone link for audio to a teleconference speaker whenever one is available. 

I currently use GoToMeeting since we're experimenting with it for use with DoView related on-line training. I used to use Glance which seemed faster and more agile for setting up quick meetings than GoToMeeting. But Glance does not have all the features of GoToMeeting.

The set up for one virtual meeting the other day was interesting. First they tried to connect me to a Smart Board of some type. The problem was that the image of the DoView model was going to be way too small for the people in the room to see. 

It's really important that you spend some time with them - ideally connecting the day before - to set up the room and communications they way you want. 

However the Smart Board had a really cool camera view which took in the whole room. Because they had already connected me to this I could see that they had that magic thing - a plain white wall - at the back! So I got them to bring in another data projector to project onto that wall from a different computer (not the one connected to the Smart Board).

I left the Smart Board connected to GoToMeeting and got them to join the other computer to GoToMeeting as a new user. We kept the webcam on the Smart Board going through the meeting so I could see the room as a whole.  

That is a much better perspective than you normally get from the webcam on a normal computer. It's usually at table height and only shows you a couple of people on the other side of the table rather than you being able to see the group as a whole. 

From a psychological point of view it's nice to be able to see most of the people in the room so you get a feeling for the audience you are working with. In this case the room was rather dark as you can see in the image above, but it was still better than a lighter image of just a couple of people across the table. They had turned the lights down to get a clearer view of the data projector image. 

The good thing is that as time goes on links will get better, audio will get better, lighting and webcams also. Even with the current level of technology - which is still a long way from optimal - I can manage an all day virtual workshop now. I have ten or so minute breaks about every hour and we do a lunchtime. But it's still a bit more complex and demanding than a real-world meeting.  Hopefully as the tech infrastructure gets better and better it will become more immersive, less stressful and even more fun than it is at the moment.

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