Stop Wasting My Time! Conference Call Edition

As join.me went pro last week, I realized we haven’t talked about those other types of meetings – the conference call. I pinged our friend @MeetingBoy on his thoughts on how to have conference calls that won’t put everyone to sleep. Plus, he gave us some of his past tweets to accompany his expertise.

I also gave some #joinmetips on how join.me could make conference calls better. Because it can.

Stop Wasting My Time On Conference Calls!

If there’s anything less productive than a conference call, I have yet to see it. Their record for time wasting is worse than meetings. Yes, meetings. So I’ve compiled a list of things I want you to do before you schedule that next conference call.

You have to earn my attention. When you hold a meeting, you can see me and I can see you, so I have to at least pretend to pay attention or I’ll look bad, or you could make me look bad. And that’s no matter how boring you are. But on a conference call, I don’t have to pretend, so you better have something to say.

If it weren’t for conference calls, I’d never catch up on my Words With Friends games.

Send any materials ahead of time. Shouldn’t this be obvious? If you want to go over your PowerPoint, make sure you send it to me.

I don’t have your presentation in front of me, but I’ll take your word for it that it’s not as pointless as everything else you’ve ever done.

#joinmetip: You can still send your PowerPoint ahead of time – but you can also just share it during the call on join.me

If all you’re going to do is read, just send it. I know how to read.

You made me get on the phone so you could read me your damn PowerPoint? Well, I hope you know I’m mocking you on Twitter right now.

#joinmetip: There’s no need to read your PowerPoint – everyone can see it on the screen you’re sharing!

Get to the point, and make it quick. Once you lose my attention, you aren’t getting it back.

Beginning 2nd hour of conference call. Or I’ve died and am stuck in Limbo for eternity. Someone remind me how to tell the difference.

If some of the people are in a room together, they need to remember people are on the phone. The worst conference call is when eight people are in a room and two people who are traveling have to call in. Why? Because everyone in the room forgets about the people on the phone.

Why did I call in if you won’t acknowledge me? I’m a person too!

Stop talking over each other. In a room people can see each other and they choose to interrupt each other. On a call, because of the way phones mute out the other end, people often can’t tell, and so no one hears anything.

People keep interrupting. We need a new system for who has the floor. Robert’s Rules won’t do –  we need a conch!

#joinmetip: You can also utilize the “chat” feature in join.me so no one gets lost in the mix.

If you schedule it during lunch, people are going to eat. And that’s your fault, not theirs. Sure it would be nice if they were polite and didn’t eat on the call, but people have to eat.

Thank you for taking the conference call from the busiest deli in town.

It’s OK to multi-task; it’s not OK to make it obvious. If you don’t have a mute button on your phone, you shouldn’t be allowed on the call.

Sorry, could you repeat that? Someone was slurping soup.

Just because it’s a conference call doesn’t make it OK to hold it after hours.

Sure, a conference call at 8PM on Friday doesn’t require people to be in the office, but it’s still a crime against Weekends.

#joinmetip: Agreed – but if you have to, your meeting will go much quicker with join.me – everyone will be on the same page – literally!

@MeetingBoy: But can’t your software just shut down at 5PM on Friday?

(That’s a “no”, by the way.)

Any other other tips for making conference calls better? Leave them in the comments.

(PS: @MeetingBoy will be at our Coffee Break tomorrow at 2pm EST – join us at join.me/coffeebreak to win free join.me coffee mugs / gift certificates for your office.)

         

Collabragicians: Shawn McGuire

We’ve started this cool series of video interviews called “Collabragicians,” where we Skype with join.me users and find out how they are using join.me and how it’s working for them. Here’s our first video featuring Shawn McGuire – one of our first join.me advocates and a frequent visitor to our join.me Coffee Breaks.

Are you a frequent join.me user with a story to tell? Let me know at maggie@join.me and let’s talk.

         

ABC – Always. Be. Caffeinated.

I saw The Sales Guy at our Keurig the other day and we were talking coffee – I was filling him in about our Coffee Breaks, and he was waxing poetic about join.me and sales – with a caffeinated twist. Here it is:

“Glengarry Glen Ross” is the best sales movie of all time. No doubt about it. Alec Baldwin’s five minute cameo alone has given me a career’s worth of quotable, bleep-able, one-liners. What’s the most memorable line in my brain bank? Easy. “Put. That coffee. Down. (pause) Coffee’s for closers only.” The mere act of pouring sugar into an empty coffee mug on a brisk October morning prompts me to recall my current quota attainment status.

Fortunately, I didn’t see the movie until after I started my sales career. David Mamet wasn’t exactly on a mission to glorify the life of a sales professional when he sat down and drafted the “Glengarry Glen Ross” screenplay. Quite the opposite. This film exposed viewers to a profession filled with forced, ill-timed cold calls and dreadfully awkward in-person meetings.

Fortunately, the sales profession has come a long way since the 1992 film. Companies are smarter about acquiring new customers. They tend to target segments of users that make the most sense for the products and services they offer. That way, even if a salesperson is cold-calling, at least they’re calling someone who looks like a great fit for their product on paper.

I spoke with a salesperson using join.me last week. He told me about his need to deliver a powerful 30,000 -foot company and product overview within the first 30 seconds of the call. Pretty standard duty in sales. But, now he has pictures to help deliver the message. With join.me, he can share his screen within 10-15 seconds, show a pair of compelling PowerPoint slides, and schedule his follow up call for a product demo via join.me…all on the first call! A simple cold-call, combined with the speed and power of a join.me meeting, has transformed a mundane sales activity into a true driver of business…and deal closings.

So if coffee is indeed reserved for the closers on your company’s sales team, tell them to have join.me at the ready for every dial. Their daily caffeine dependency is safe with us…

         

And now: A few words from our CTO

It’s a big deal to let a product run free after months and months of preparation. I caught up with Marton Anka, CTO of LogMeIn, to find out where join.me came from – and why it’s important to LogMeIn. Here’s what he had to say:

It was many months ago when I first started pressuring some of my peers into accepting the idea of a dirt simple screen sharing product. Obvious questions were raised: “If you don’t require registration, how will we ever market to the users?” “If you allow them to install the app and they never have to come back to the website, how will you ever market to the users?” “If you give so much away for free, what will you market to the users?”

Honestly, I did not really care to know what the answers were. If LogMeIn wanted to enter the collaboration space, we’d have to bring something fresh to the table. And I’m not talking about “fresh” compared to the dinosaurs that rule this market, but I’m talking “fresh” compared to the countless, neat offerings by little, unknown startups, as well.

We have a very solid platform that allows us to provide the service with a very low delivery cost. If we can offset these costs by a small fraction of users purchasing, or just offset them by having new faces be exposed to our other products, we have a potential winner on our hands.

We’re counting on a large crowd to start using the product, because the point of join.me is that it’s a free but highly valuable tool. You use it on your terms, the way you like it, when you like it. We give a complete solution away for no charge, because it wouldn’t be useful otherwise. The word “free” has been tremendously devalued. Googling for services and software products, you’re confronted with ads and SEO-optimized crap that purport to offer you something for free. Well, ladies & gentleman of Google AdWords fame, I don’t consider a 30-day trial free – just the opposite, I’m doing you a favor by giving you my time and consideration. It’s about time to give the word Free some meaning again.

I may have gotten carried away there. We’re not setting out to change the world with this product. It’s a super-simple yet super-reliable & secure tool that lets your peers take a look at your screen no matter where they are. For now, that’s it. It doesn’t have video conferencing or a darned VPN built into it, and it may not ever have these things. If you want to do video conferencing, go use a video conferencing product. If you want a VPN, go use Hamachi (ahem). And if you want to share your screen for whatever reason with one person or a couple hundred, use join.me. It’ll grow on you. I use it several times a day – not because I want to or need to, but because I can’t really imagine not to. Not anymore.

That’s not to say we’re not going to improve this product. We have many ideas of our own, and your feedback during the beta period has been invaluable too. We’ll do our best to walk the fine line between making it better and making it fatter.

Enjoy, and let us know what you think.

-Marton

         

The Release We Wanted To Write

The Release We Wanted To Write

(but our lawyers wouldn’t let us)

In what has to be one of the worst kept secrets in history, we just told the world at large about some new, fast and easy screen-sharing product called join.me.  I know.  Hardly new news, right?  Well, consider yourself among the proverbial early adopters.  The join.me insiders.

But between us friends, this wasn’t really what we wanted to release.  I’m not saying our parents are uptight.  The LogMeIn’ers are actually pretty chill.  But we like to stick to tradition.  So for you insiders, here’s the REAL join.me release.  Just do us a favor – don’t show the lawyers.

join.me: So ridiculously fast and simple that you’ll swear it’s not an online meeting product

Oh, and did we tell you it’s free?!

WOBURN, Mass. AND the INTERWEBS, October 21, 2010 – The good folks at LogMeIn are at it again.  They’ve decided to give away a perfectly good product that others would have charged a fortune to use.  And then they made it so fast and easy to use that the otherwise sane and measured folks in the media have characterized it as ‘ridiculously simple.’ Then, like all proud, loving parents, they reluctantly set it free to makes its own mark on the world.

The product?  A quick screen sharing product called join.me so lightweight and, er, ‘ridiculously simple’ that its product marketers argued daily as to whether or not it should even be mentioned in the same breath as kludgy “web conferencing” or “online meeting” products.

When asked what it actually was and how it was intended to be used, a PR flack under the guise of LogMeIn VP of Collaboration, Kevin Bardos, said, “It’s about getting a second or third pair of eyes on that presentation.  About getting your people together without getting your people together.  It’s the last two words in an invitation to be collaboratively better.”

Asked just what the <expletive deleted> that means, the frazzled guy posing as Bardos responded, “Honestly?  I’m just telling you what the creative dude down the hall told me.  The reality is people will use it how they wanna use it.  That’s kind of the point.  Why don’t you just ask them? “

The less-than-well-kept launch comes three months after tens of thousands of people discovered a less-than-hidden beta site – and flooding the join.me inbox with feedback, some of it rather blunt.  So what did they say?

“I like it, is it going to be free forever? Or is it only going to be free until its out of beta?”

Yup.  Seriously, have you ever met our parents?

“I would request that scheduling be added so that I can send an invitation a week or so in advance.”

Check.  We built that.

“Let users have a dedicated screen share number.”

Yup.  Built that too.

“Please remove the feet from the homepage. Thanks.”

OK, this one caught us off guard.  But we heard you – it’s gone.

Bardos elaborated, “I would have thought the stubbly bald dude in need of a manicure would have caused a bit more of an uproar.  But apparently people hate feet…or 1970s rainbow toe socks…or some combination of the two.  Either way, we heard you.  We killed the socks and built out the rest of the stuff.  Are we good?  Everyone happy now?”

There’s been some chatter already about join.me this morning in GigaOM and then the New York Times Business Day Technology Blog.

What are you thoughts / feedback on join.me? Are you using the free or pro version? What are your favorite features? Let me know in the comments.

         

Special join.me session with @MeetingBoy

In the office, we are constantly cracking up at @MeetingBoy’s tweets. We love his style and wit so much we are doing a special join.me session on Tuesday, October 19 at 2:30 PM EST at join.me/askmeetingboy where @MeetingBoy will be answering your questions about meetings, tips and whatever else you guys come up with.

What do you want to know? Email askmeetingboy@join.me and tune in for our session on Tuesday, October 19 at 2:30 PM EST.

Feel free to also leave questions in the comments.

(@MeetingBoy will also be joining our Coffee Break on Friday at 9AM EST. Win some free coffee and mugs for your office and chat with @joinme and @MeetingBoy. Looking forward to seeing you there!)

         

MeetingBoy: Stop Wasting My Time!

Over the weekend, I caught up with my friend @MeetingBoy (and FYI – we are going to be collab-ing in some pretty awesome ways so stay tuned) about his favorite topic: Meetings. Check out his expert suggestions (complete with some of his Tweets) on how to make your meeting better than ever – or at least tolerable.

(I also couldn’t help but interject some #joinmetips on how join.me could make meetings better, too. You had to see that coming, right?)

Stop Wasting My Time!

By: @MeetingBoy

I have to spend a lot of time in meetings. Last week it was over 30 hours, and many of those meetings were unnecessary or too long. That’s why I’ve come up with this list of ways to make meetings better. Oh, sure, I know nothing will come of this, but indulge me…

  • Have less of them.

I have 4 meetings today, and then later, no doubt, one with my boss about how I’m not getting anything done.

  • Have an agenda. And give it out before the meeting.

“You’re probably all wondering why I called you here today. If you figure it out, I hope you’ll let me know.”

  • Stick to your agenda. No checking your Blackberry in your own meeting.

Please tell me you did not call this meeting so you could read your email?!

  • Don’t overinvite. Yes, I just coined a new word, but everyone knew what I meant. Better to hold an impromptu meeting with a few key people on the fly than to get a roomful of people who don’t need to be there but will speak up because their egos require it.

You called 20 people to a 40-minute meeting that served no purpose, thus wasting 800 minutes, yet somehow I’m the bad guy for wasting 30 minutes on Twitter?

#joinmetip: With join.me pro beta, people have to “knock” to be let in to your meeting – so if you don’t want them in that particular meeting, don’t let them in.

  • Show up on time. And if it’s your meeting and you’re late, you should never be allowed to hold a meeting again.

It’s a meeting, not a college party that starts at 9:00 but the cool people don’t show up until 11:30!

#joinmetip: With join.me, the meeting doesn’t start until you start it – so, if you need a few seconds, take them. If you need a few minutes, well… like @MeetingBoy said, this ain’t no college party!

  • No meetings before 10:00, during lunch, or after 5:00. If you hold a meeting before 10:00, then people won’t be done responding to whatever drama arrived in their mailbox overnight. But maybe you’re that magical person who can get people to work hard for them even when they are resentful, distracted, hungry and cranky. Go for it!

I can’t be held responsible for what you told me before I had my coffee.

#joinmetip: If you’re holding a join.me meeting, everyone can be paying attention AND eating. Or wearing pajamas.

  • If you must hold a meeting during the usual lunch time, pay for lunch to be brought in.

Sorry, I can’t make a meeting at noon. You’re buying lunch? Look at that– it just opened up.

  • Don’t read me your PowerPoint. I can read!

Every time you treat me like an idiot, I’m tempted to act like an idiot just to frustrate you.

  • Don’t ask for feedback and then not listen. If you can’t take criticism, especially in front of a group, then don’t open things up for feedback.

“Did I say I wanted your feedback? My mistake. I meant rubber stamp.” My job would be much easier if people could just admit this.

  • Be considerate. Everything I’m saying can be boiled down to this– think of every awful, boring, tedious, pointless, time-wasting meeting you’ve been to. Think of the times a wasteful meeting has meant you were behind and had to work late. Think about what made those meetings awful. And then make sure you’re not doing them, or then you’re the guy I’m tweeting about.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. That’s because the Romans invented the status meeting.

* An Even Better #joinmetip: @MeetingBoy is going to answer YOUR questions next Tuesday in a special @MeetingBoy join.me session. What do you want to know? Email your questions to askmeetingboy@join.me

         

And In This Corner…

… with brand-new features that will delight the masses, with the same lightweight and simple product you’ve grown to love minus the ugly and widely-scrutinized socks-in-your-face background, is…

join.me pro (beta). Check it out now at join.me.

join.me pro (beta) has some nifty new features.  Surprised?  Why?  You’re the ones that asked for them! Here’s some real-life feedback from you user-types and what we did with it:

“I would like to see the option to schedule future meetings.”

Introducing: The Scheduler. Come on, you didn’t think we were going to allow you to schedule meetings in advance? We like to plan, too (sometimes).

“I would like to have a standard url I could setup that is static.”

Introducing: Your own personal link. Use the same link every time so you never need to write down those 9-digits again.

“Why can’t I install join.me as an app on my computer?”

Introducing: The join.me applet. Now you can keep join.me on your desktop/dock for easy access.

“I would like to be able to approve who connects just in case the link to my shared desktop gets out.”

Introducing: Knock to join. Someone knows your personal link but you dont’t want them in your meeting? Don’t worry. With pro (beta), your meeting is automatically locked – making you the gate keeper.  So ask politely. And bring a joke.

“I love how simple this is – will there be accounts? Can I have other people on my account?”

Introducing: Presenters. Since we need an email and password from you to unlock the pro (beta) features, you can add as many “Presenters” as you want on your account during the beta so they can do their own thing, managed by you.

These pro features are in beta – so feedback is appreciated. You can leave feedback at join.me. Try these features out, tell us what you love, hate, need, want – we want to know.

And count your lucky stars I didn’t end this post with a picture of those socks.

         

Picture Power

I pinged your favorite Sales Guy to find out why sales and join.me live in perfect harmony in his pitch. Here’s what he said:

As you know, I’m in sales. (Hence my moniker). Been in this industry my whole professional career. Yet, I find myself incredibly frustrated by the average salesperson. They call me and wedge themselves into my increasingly valuable time and present their monotone, poorly scripted elevator pitch with absolutely nothing that compels me to ask for more. Makes me crazy.

Now, a good salesperson? I’m happy to talk with them. They will ask me a couple qualifying questions that pique my interest. I ask a few questions back. They talk to me as a person instead of an opportunity.

Any good salesperson knows a deal will essentially close itself if you can do two things: 1. Identify a true fit for your product for that particular prospect (square peg, square hole) 2. Establish a transparent relationship that allows you to openly discuss budget, timeframe, incumbent solutions, etc.

Question is, how do you develop that trust and transparency? Well, you show them something.

I’ve been using join.me to show my prospects various LogMeIn products. It’s super-duper-uber simple. With join.me, I can share my desktop with them in less than 20 seconds. When I’m pitching to sell and crunched for time, join.me works perfectly.

What I’ve realized in my sales career-and everyday life for that matter-is that visually experiencing a product is the most powerful way to see and sell it. The power is in the picture. Nowadays, I talk less and show more. And you know what? People actually like what my join.me session has to say!

Any other salespeople out there selling with join.me? What has your experience been like?