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Avoiding a Collaboration Ground Hog Day

This morning, I didn’t walk up to the tune of “I Got You Babe” on the radio. Nor am I actually reliving the same day over again (though sometimes the motions are familiar). One thing that doesn’t seem to change very often is how we choose to communicate with other people – and that can make a very big difference to how we feel about the impact we have in a given day.

Inspired by Bill Murray’s character in the classic comedy and the good news that a short Canadian winter was predicted today by both Wiarton Willie and Shubenacadie Sam, I’ve compiled a list of ways to collaborate with your peers, to help you avoid using e-mail and maybe even avoid feeling like today is just another every day.

1. Avatar-Based Collaboration

Although at first Avatar-based collaboration can feel more like a game than a productivity tool, you might surprise yourself at how effective these platforms can be. Research by MIT Sloan back in 2011 showed that Avatar-based collaboration platforms are still in their infancy, but that users who use these tools for their recreational use are able to bring the productivity gleaned from them into the business world. Project co-ordination and brainstorming topped the list of uses for these tools in a business context:


Interested in trying it out for yourself? Check out Avaya’s free demo of web.alive.

2. Adobe Connect with Communication Manager integration

Conference calls are great for small to medium size groups – but what if you want to broadcast a message to a cast of thousands – including sharing videos, slides and making the whole experience accessible via the web or telephone? Utilizing Avaya meeting exchange (http://www.adobe.com/support/connect/audio_teleconferencing_adaptors.html),  Adobe Connect users can integrate their call seamlessly with a conference bridge – allowing the call to be extended out to phone-only users, but also to tie the conference call users back into the adobe connect experience. This allows for wide-scale collaboration with 1,000+ people simultaneously – powerful stuff!

3. Text Messaging / BBM / iMessage

A recent survey by Pew Research revealed that 31% of adults would choose a text message vs. voice communication on their mobile phone. Why not reach out to your peers via text message their mobile phone.


For customers with IP Office 8.0 in their environment, you’ll want to check out the new One-X Mobile Preferred application , which features integrated text and conferencing capability in a finely-tuned Android app.

4. Video Calls

Let’s face it – audio calls are easier to make then video calls. Video calls are more transparent- you can’t hide your body language, and you can’t take the call in your PJs. Most of us, though, do have the capability to use video in our daily calls. For all you Avaya One-X communicator users out there, you can easily turn on video in the options menu. Ask your direct team to do the same and regular calls placed via one-x will automatically turn into a video call! Your audio will continue to be routed in whichever way you have selected – through your office phone, your computer or even your mobile phone / home phone, while the call control and video continue to be handled by your PC.


5. Run a Great Conference Call

OK – so you can’t avoid using conference calls all day. With so many work teams being virtual these days, the conference call is still the most important way for most of us to communicate. That doesn’t mean you can’t make a conference call great though. Here is a quick overview of how to host a great conference call, courtesy of worksnug.com:

· Send a pre-call email to all participants outlining the agenda, dial in details and any material they need to read.

· Dial in on time or a few minutes early, if you are the organiser. A lot of conference calls waste the first 5 minutes with constant beeps and interruptions from latecomers.

· Think about your background noise. If you can’t take the call from a quiet place, use a noise-cancelling headset for when you are speaking and put it on mute when you are not.

· The power of your voice. Stand up for important discussions, this will help to project your voice.

· Don’t ever put your phone on hold. You will probably subject the rest of the call to your hold music or beeping.

· Remember to un-mute your headset when you want to talk!

· Keep to the agenda and on time as much as possible

· Participants should keep contributions as concise as possible. No one appreciates a rambling monologue!

· If you want everyone to follow the same presentation – try web conferencing for screen / presentation sharing.

· Focus on the conference call. It is easy to be distracted with emails/Facebook/online shopping, etc.

· Close the call with a clear summing up of next steps and follow up with an email with action items for participants.

Keep trying new things! The best way to get better at communicating is to leverage new tools as they come out – some may work for you, others may not. Either way, trying one of these five things will ensure you don’t get stuck in a groundhog day!

Rob Daleman is the former National Marketing Manager for Avaya Canada. Before joining Avaya, Rob led midmarket strategy for Dell Canada. Rob holds an MBA from the Schulich School of Business. more

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