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Book named Indistractable by Nir Eyal, sitting on a table
Webinar: Indistractable — How to control your attention and choose your life

Webinar with best-selling author, Nir Eyal

Tomorrow.. Tomorrow.. I’ll love ya.. Oh wait. I don’t know you (or maybe I do). But that’s not the point.

Tomorrow is an exciting day! Webex is hosting a webinar with best-selling author, Nir Eyal. And trust me, you won’t want to miss it.

For years, Eyal has immersed himself in the psychology of distraction and even wrote a book about it called: Indistractable. Tomorrow, he is going to let us in on his research.

Key takeways

We’ll learn:

  • Reasons why we get distracted
  • Why we don’t do the things we know we should do (think: eating healthy, exercising, getting good sleep, etc).
  • How to master the internal triggers that make us uncomfortable
  • Cool tricks/ways to make a pact with yourself to do the work you say you’re going to do
  • How to cultivate self-compassion
  • AND SO MUCH MORE!

Register here today: https://use.webex.com/webinar-indistractable-with-nir-eyal

Date: Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Time: 12 PM ET

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Cisco Webex Meetings 39.9: Discovering some video conferencing hacks
3 business communication barriers you can break down with video conferencing
Video conferencing and the generational divide

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Young hipster man with tattoo sitting on floor and playing acoustic guitar
Times are changing, so is music

Virtual music change

Usually at this time of the year my friends and I begin the banter and planning associated with our annual pilgrimage to the Isle Of Wight Festival. Although we weren’t able to participate this year, I am always seeking ways to keep music an active part of my life.

Live music especially is an important part of my life. The energy and anticipation in a room just before a band comes on is electric. The difference between a great gig and an “Epic Gig” is marginal but in my opinion, the venue, sound system, and people form an essential combination to reach “Epic Proportions”.

I was a bit cynical about the virtual gig concept. How can it possibly be the same?

No people, a tinny sound, and I’m in my front room!

Support with playlists

Then Chris Martin partnered with Global Citizen. Seeing the performance in a stripped back and relatively unproduced manner reminded me just how good Coldplay is. It even made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.

So much for no energy! Those tunes touched me, and the atmosphere came from the situation we all find ourselves in.

A few days later I decided to create a playlist ‘Isolation Station’ for my team- just a few songs and a little irony to put a smile on their faces.

Finally, one last virtual music event that really reset my perception that I needed to be in the venue, surrounded by like-minded souls was the Hacienda House Party, a live dance music event based around some of the original superstar DJ’s of the Hacienda in Manchester, England. This event provided my family with a backing music soundtrack for a lovely sunny Saturday. It was brilliantly produced and when pumped through the home sound system, it sounded awesome! Boom, we were raving at home.

Together at home

And whilst I’m waxing lyrical about virtual music events, check out the links below that caught my eye- irony and comedy in musical form.

Oh My God (Stay Home Edition) | Kaiser Chiefs

Reworking of a great anthem following a tweet by a fan to a UK radio station

The Rolling Stones perform “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” | | One World: Together

Check out Charlie Watts drum kit! I’d love to know the story behind this. Taken from the Global Citizen gig at the weekend which Cisco sponsored.

As the Chilli Peppers once sang “Music the great communicator.”

Live From Home weekly livestream

At the other end of the spectrum Cisco has done a good job of using Webex to showcase performing artists of all practices during the weekly series, Live From Home. Presented by AppDynamics and Cisco, Live From Home is using Cisco technology to directly benefit the performers and to provide top-notch entertainment for the public. They are also fundraising for art charities in need. My favourite was ‘Indie Night’. It certainly inspired me to pick up my guitar and start dusting off the old campfire favourites!

We all get so much from the arts which we can often take for granted. Streaming lets us listen to what we want, where we want, whenever we want, and whilst that is a good thing, it’s live music that now really keeps artists afloat. It’s not just for the mega bands touring the world on private jets, but more importantly it’s for the bands and musicians playing at bars and small venues, who are completely shut down for now.

In the clear

So, when all this is over and we can actually go to a venue with a sticky floor and a musty smell, let’s go show our support and help the next Coldplay or Billie Eilish breakthrough.

You can do that on May 5th during the Live from Home event on Cisco’s Virtual Experience Hub for the public.

To conclude, my perceptions were proven wrong….virtual music can move me and bring entertainment to the masses. Music plays such a huge part in all our lives, whether you play it, write it or just hum along because you don’t know the words, it’ll put a smile on your face or a tear in your eye. Right now, the power music has is remarkable and can help us all get through this together.

Stay Safe and tune into the next Live From Home event on 05/05

Learn More

How Live from Home is bringing artists into the Cisco community 

The ultimate Webex Events guide: From start to stream in under 2 minutes

Live streaming with Webex Meetings for your virtual events: What’s new and how to use it

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Serious woman using laptop checking email news online sitting on sofa, searching for friends in internet social networks or working on computer, writing blog or watching webinar, studying at home
How to create a video conferencing agenda

Hold engaging video calls with a meeting agenda ahead of time

Meetings can be a waste of time if not run properly. In fact, a 2019 study revealed the cost of poorly organized meetings would be $399 billion dollars, in the United States alone (1).

An important way to ensure meetings run smoothly and efficiently is to set an agenda prior to the call. Setting an agenda is important, so all attendees can come prepared. Often participants join a meeting, not knowing how to prepare, or what the meeting will be about. And as a result, a follow-up meeting is needed, making the first meeting more of a time-suck than a productive call.

Prioritize your time and energy

Before setting an agenda, consider these three things:

    1. Understand that you don’t have to solve every problem in one meeting

Think about what can be accomplished.

Meetings have different goals and priorities. While some are brainstorm meetings, others are status updates, or presentations on collected information or metrics data. The list goes on, but a single meeting shouldn’t try to fit everything into one. Before you set an agenda, understand what type of meeting you want to have. This will aid in how attendees prepare beforehand and in knowing how long to set the duration of the call.

      2. Consider making meetings shorter

Participants may be more engaged and less likely to multitask in a shorter meeting, knowing they can get back to their work.

Video conferencing calls don’t have to be a designated 30 minutes or 1 hour long. Yes, it’s true that sometimes that amount time is needed, but consider other approaches. For example, let’s take a brainstorm call. Try setting the meeting for 20 minutes and have participants come prepared with ideas they can share for the first 10 minutes. Then, in the second half of the call, have people try and think of additional ideas as a group. After the call, you can narrow down the ideas and send them out, and let people vote. Or set up a second, 10-minute call to walk through the top three and do a final vote.

For a read-out call, sometimes people fill space with information that is too in-the-weeds if there is not clear direction given. Consider setting a shorter call and instruct the presenter to give the top three bullet points and top three lessons learned. Or top three things that can be improved upon. This will shorten calls and keep people focused. If people are interested in more information, they can follow up outside the call.

3. Don’t be afraid of trial and error

Meetings can look and feel different. Try various methods to see what works best for your company.

People work in different ways. What may work for someone, may not work for others. After a meeting, ask for feedback. You may be surprised in what people have to say.

How to plan for and contribute to meetings

What should your agenda look like?

Based on the meeting type, consider:

  • What is the objective of the meeting?
  • How long the meeting should last?
  • How many people need to be on the call?
  • Who will need to talk/present?
  • Should everyone on the invite actually be on the call? (this is important because you don’t want people to feel like their time is being wasted)
  • How long each of those people need to convey information?

An example agenda:

Objective of call:

Example Agenda

At the bottom of the agenda (or within it), you can request what each person needs to do to prepare, or what they need to bring to the meetings. For example, do they need to send slides over beforehand? Should they come with one question to ask, etc.?

Additionally, it’s important to let presenters/participants know how much time they have, beforehand. In fact, to keep a meeting on track, you can give a 2-5-minute warning before the transition to the next topic and presenter. Because everyone will have seen the agenda and time allocated, the switch will be smoother and it won’t feel like someone is being cut off.

One last note

Remember, meeting templates can look very different based on the type of meeting. So, create yours to fit your business needs and detail it with as much or little information as it needs. You can experiment to see what works better with your employees.

Preparing for every meeting with a clear objective and thoughtful agenda will ensure a more productive and efficient use of time for everyone involved. Taking the time up front, will go a long way to ensuring you get the most out of each and every meeting.

And if you don’t already have Webex, you can sign up for the free offer, with an unlimited meeting time!

Reference

(1) 2019 study on poorly organized meetings

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3 tips for managing a virtual get together. A group of friends hanging out and drinking wine. Four young women in the webex meetings space. Wine glasses are put in the air to toast.
3 tips for managing a virtual get together

Meet by virtual means

Working from home? Me too.

It sounds pretty fun (and definitely has MANY perks), but can also get a bit isolating.

As remote working trends continue to increase, the shift from the office to the home “office” can feel big if you’re used to frequent water cooler conversations, taking  lunch breaks with your colleagues, and planning happy hours after work. Even for a regular “work-from-homer,” I still find myself going a little stir crazy every so often.

If you’re missing your friends or colleagues (who may also fall into the friend category), here are 3 tips for hosting and/or attending a virtual get-together:

Plan a time

If you’re with your colleagues, look at their calendars and find a time that works. You can even use a team collaboration space to suggest times, using reaction emojis, like the thumbs up, to let others know if a specific time works for you. If you don’t have visibility into calendars or a space with all invitees, texts or survey’s work as well.

Assign a host

This person is in charge of figuring out the time, sending out the invite, remembering to show up. Like a host at a party, they can greet people who join the call and mediate if everyone starts talking over one another. Prior to the call, or at the start of the call, it’s important to lay out a set of “guidelines” as well as what they should expect.

For people who have never joined a video conferencing meeting before, you can let them know in advance that they may need to download the app (if joining from a phone or new device). And it’s fun to see everyone, so encourage them to use a device with a camera.

Because there can be background distractions and noises, ask attendees to keep themselves muted until they would like to talk. In addition, unlike normal happy hours or get-togethers, side conversations are near impossible. On a video conference, they tend to result more in people talking over one another. If this happens, suggest that people try the chat tool to either directly message one person, or the entire group.

If you’re the host and need to leave early, you can assign a new host.  That way the call won’t end for everyone.

Change the layout

Webex offers three views: active speaker view, active speaker and thumbnail view, and grid view. Instead of just seeing only the person talking, change to the grid-view where you can see up to 25 different screens. This view allows for you to see everyone’s reactions and makes it feel much more like you’re all together in person. It can also help in seeing if someone is trying to talk or when someone is finished talking, limiting interruptions.

Don’t forget your snacks and drinks! Host a virtual cheers at the beginning of the call, just like you would normally if you were in person. Don’t let the computer screen prevent you from ordinary get-together rituals.

As for planning your next get together, do it before you go! Use the polling tool to suggest times and have everyone vote in real-time.

Little things can go a long way in starting a get-together, especially for those new to the video conferencing arena. So, do you think you’re ready to virtually hang out with your friends? Start planning!

And if you don’t already have Webex, you can sign up for the free offer, with an unlimited meeting time!

We hope these tips help your next get-together run smoothly! See how @bshaughn of NYC consultancy makes virtual happy hour’s happen

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Blackboard Learn and Webex join forces to expand the reach of education
Blackboard Learn and Webex join forces to expand the reach of education

Webex Education Connector expanding the reach of the classroom

Collaboration in schools just got easier with Blackboard Learn + Webex Education Connector! For education institutes who have Blackboard Learn as their learning management system (LMS), they can now integrate Webex into Blackboard Learn via the Webex Education Connector. This allows the instructors and students to leverage Webex features and capabilities without downloading the Webex app. Instructors can schedule and start meetings within the Blackboard learn interface, while students can join meetings and view previously recorded sessions.  

The full set of capabilities includes:  

  • Schedule Meetings  
  • Start and Join Meetings 
  • View Recordings for past meetings 
  • Schedule Office Hours  
  • Create Teams and spaces 
  • Collaborate (Message, Call and File sharing) with students  

Blackboard Learn and Webex join forces to expand the reach of education

But wait…. there is more!  

In addition to Blackboard Learn, we now also have an in-depth Recording Library. In education, recordings have many valuable uses. Recordings of existing sessions can be re-used in future semesters, they can be used as supplemental material in other class offerings, or as guest lecturer content worldwide Additionally, with the advancement of flipped learning (pedagogical approach to learning where students learn materials before class), recordings enable class time to be used in a different way, focusing on deeper understanding of materials and problem-solving activities.  

The Recording library allows an instructor to create a recording and publish it to their students in other classes with the following capabilities 

  • Allows an instructor to rename, view and delete their own recordings  
  • Ability to host a Webex meeting within a course for the purpose of capturing a Webex recording, without making the meeting it visible to the students immediately  
  • Ability to record a private Webex Meeting recording and share with students in single or multiple classes  
  • Ability for a student to view recorded Webex Meetings that the instructor has shared  

Ability for a student to view recorded Webex Meetings.

What’s coming next 

Since not every educational institute operates via the same methods, upcoming features will include more administration for LMS and granular control over classroom groupings. Administrators using the Admin Panel will be able to control what users have visibility to, whether it includes all the features within the Webex Education Connector or just a subset. This helps ensure compliance with educational regulations as well as simplifies the experience by removing unused features 

For schools using the ‘sections in classroom’ collaboration feature in Canvas (creating virtual teams), admins will now be able to apply divisions so that students in one section will not be able to see the spaces created by other sections. This helps keep student work only in their group, keeping groups focused.

For schools using the ‘sections in classroom’ collaboration feature in Canvas (creating virtual teams), admins will now be able to apply divisions so that students in one section will not be able to see the spaces created by other sections. This helps keep student work only in their group, keeping groups focused. 

Bring the classroom together with collaboration

By partnering with educational platforms like Blackboard, we are always looking to see how we can use collaboration to make the lives of students, teachers and parents simpler, easier and more accessible globally. From the classroom to graduation, Webex has you covered.

To keep up with the latest advancements in collaboration education check out Webex Education Connector site.

For more information, on Webex Education Connector see the following:

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Improving patient diagnoses with video conferencing

Building bridges between business contacts and human relationships in your video conference meetings

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On-boarding made easier through communication skills and collaboration tools

Starting a new job at a new company is exciting, but often comes with challenges. These can range from understanding your role to understanding your team’s role in terms of the broader scope of the company to even finding out who does what, and who to go to for specific requests. Not to mention trying to understand company lingo/new acronyms. It’s all a bit of a learning curve at the beginning.

And now, some companies have the tools and technology to hire employees to work remotely. Remote working comes with many benefits, but as a new employee, the aforementioned challenges can be made even trickier.

However, an article titled “Ramp Up Your New Employees Better with Great Communication Training,” details how companies can train and onboard new employees wherever they are, with communication skills, to avoid some of the challenges that come with starting a new job.

Cory Treffiletti, Global head of Marketing for Cisco Webex, says “Improving the on-boarding process pays clear dividends in the form of higher employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention. And leveraging the same communication and collaboration tools the business relies on can make the process more effective while also preparing the employee for the working habits and culture of their new company.”

Read the following article to learn a bit more on how your company can leverage your collaboration tools to better onboard new employees.

Ramp Up Your New Employees Better With Great “Communication Training”

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