A Virtual Presence-Tation

Even though the economy has gotten a lot better, the corporate hatchet people are still going after the training and education budgets.  Those budgets still haven’t completely recovered.  When times are the most difficult, that’s when they think it is the best time to attack morale and eliminate necessary training.

I speak in more than 100 cites each year on innovative thinking, Internet marketing, the subject of my bestselling book,  The Social Media Bible, published by John Wiley & Sons, now in it’s third edition and hit #1 on Amazon, and now about the subject of my newest book, The Fusion Marketing Bible, published by McGraw Hill.

I get to see how Fortune 2000 companies rent entire hotels, grand ballrooms, break-out session meeting rooms, fleets of taxis, and buy 100’s of round-trip airplanes seats all to shuttle their employees or business partners in from all corners of the content for an annual event.  I can’t help but imagine the inordinate expense associated with these events; $50,000, $250,000, $500,000, and sometimes as much as $1,000,000 or more.  Is there a reasonable ROI on this investment?

Sure there is.  It’s all about improving the corporate bottom line by increasing morale and improving performance through new sales & marketing techniques and motivation.  That’s why businesses continue to hold annual sales meeting, MarCom conferences, professional organization meetings, trade shows, and spend this kind of money.  It’s also, because of this inordinate expenses associated with these events, that this is the first expense category that gets cut in recovering recessive financial times.

We all understand the value of training, and learning cutting edge engineering, sales, leadership, and marketing techniques.  We can measure the actual ROI.  We all understand why it’s important to motivate your team.  We all know that providing the newest and most competitive tools, returns the highest value – increased revenue. Is now the time to stop providing these assets to your sales teams, marketing departments, communications staff, and design divisions?

There is nothing more powerful than great content provided by a great speaker, live.  The very best next step would be great content provided by a great speaker, through telepresence.  All the content with half of the cost.

What if you could eliminate nearly 100% of all of those expenses and still provide the latest sales tools, training, and motivation for your team?  What if you could eliminate the round trip airfares, taxi fares, meals & entertainment, hotel rooms, meeting rooms, banquet charges, telephone, projectors, sound systems, Internet access, entertainment, expense accounts, and most importantly; thousands of hours of employee loss in productivity, and still deliver the same highly valuable, highly exciting, highly motivating, live, interactive presentations?  You can…  Use Web Conferencing.

In my book, The Social Media Bible, I talk about the different options in web conferencing in the chapter “Let The Conversation Begin – Interpersonal” I discuss web conferencing applications such as GoToMeeting, Adobe Connect, and WebEx.  Here’s what I have to say about these three “Best-In-Class” applications:

Web Conference Applications

GoToMeeting is for any business a cost-effective, easy-to-use online meeting solution that vastly improves productivity and sales. This service is to use on the fly or for scheduled presentations; to perform live demos; or to collaborate on documents in real time. GoToMeeting’s web conferencing tool allows users to meet online rather than in a conference room.

It’s the easiest and most cost-effective way to organize and attend online meetings. The patented technology enables colleagues, customers, and prospects to view any application running on your PC in real time. With the flexibility to meet in person or online, you’ll be able to do more and travel less.

Adobe Connect is the next best thing to an in-person meeting. With Adobe® Acrobat® Connect™ Pro software, you can provide instant access to engaging, collaborative meetings with just a web browser and the Adobe Flash® Player runtime. You can enable attendees to jump into always-available personal meeting rooms with no scheduling or registration required.

They’re able to share screens, use a whiteboard, chat, video conference, and enjoy real-time interactions without the hassle of travel. They can control meetings and related assets with robust management and reporting tools, and protect sensitive business data and meeting content with tight security and strong access controls.

WebEx provides the benefit of on-demand web meetings with no significant up-front costs, no servers to maintain, and no software to install or support. With just a web browser and a telephone, you can use WebEx. Users can integrate WebEx into daily business work flow, and use online meetings to get together with anyone at any time. Coworkers and associates can demonstrate products and services, share presentations in any format, and resolve open issues in real time with secure and reliable technology. WebEx allows the impact of live events by holding large, scalable online proceedings—such as all-hands meetings, shareholder presentations, and webinars—with interactive and dynamic multimedia presentations.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye

While the most effective web conferencing includes video, audio, and live chat for interactive question and answers, you could use free services such BlogTalkRadio or TalkShoe and have your employees “listen-in” on a live conference from any P.C. on any browser, anywhere.

A Virtual Presence In A Virtual World

Now here’s one for the books. It’s totally cutting edge, it’s really fun, and it’s also free!  You can hold your next live virtual presentation, conference, seminar, or corporate meeting in the virtual world, Second Life!  That right…  A virtual world.

When I contacted Mark Kingdon, the then CEO of Linden Labs, the creators of Second Life virtual world to ask him if he would do a ½ hour telephone interview for the book, he refused.  I was really surprised!  He went on to say that if I wanted an interview, I could meet him in Second Life.  Wow!  A live interview in Second Life with the CEO of Second Life.

I created a comfortable little place in Second Life with fountains, and swaying palm trees called The Social Media Bible Retreat and invited 30 or so people from around the world to join us.  If you want to visit The Social Media Bible Retreat, download the free Second Life software, follow this Second Life URL, and you will be instantly transported there.  I talk about this in my chapter “Virtual Worlds – Real Impact”  in my book.  It turned out to be the very first “executive interview to ever take place in a virtual world”.  Here is interview I did in Second Life with CEO Mark Kingdon:

The CEO Interview From Second Life Video

This story was so news worthy, it was actually picked up by CNN, both on their web site and their cable cannel and CNN made me a Second Life CNN iReporter!: CNN News Story

I now hold all of my design meetings for my company; Paper Models, Inc. in Second Life.  My designers come in from Russia, the Ukraine, I’m in Temecula, and my partners are in San Diego.  We can sit, see one another (or at least each other’s avatars), and speak openly about the company, marketing, and new model designs.  All live, all fun, all cutting edge, and all for free!

Conference Conclusion

So whether you iChat, Skype, AIM, web conference of visit a virtual world to collaborate, communicate, educate, and motivate your employees, you really need to consider the newest technology that is available today.  Here’s why virtual presentations can benefit you, your company, and your team:

  • Your team sees the performance of the presentation live.
  • If you want larger than life big screen entertainment, project it.
  • Your employees never have to leave their locations to receive that same great content.
  • It’s the same fixed cost whether you have 10 or 10,000 employees attend.
  • You can easily have it recorded and make it available for employees who missed it, want to see it again, and those you wouldn’t pay to fly to a remote presentation.
  • It can be stored as chapters / slides, and sound bytes.
  • It can even be converted to an audio MP3 for your employees to listen to at the gym, on their rush hour commute, or on their days off.
  • You can save $100’s of thousands of dollars.  And,
  • You save 1,000’s of lost production hours and lost opportunity.

As an example, I took advantage of this incredible efficient technology when a U.S. government agency hired me to do an entire conference series via the Internet.

I performed five webinars for SCORE, the Service Core of Retired Executives, which is part of the SBA (Small Business Administration).  During these five webinars I had 2,000 attendees!

Even with budgets cut to the max, you can still afford great, fresh, cutting edge, motivational, live content delivered to your employees right in their offices or at your next event.

Here is one final thought:

850 employees * average of 1,200 miles * 2 (round trip) = 2,040,000 airline miles

850 employees * 25 Miles * 2 (round trip home/airport ) = 1,700 Trips or 42,500 car miles

850 employees * 25 Miles * 2 (round trip airport/hotel ) = 1,700 cab fares or 42,500 car miles

850 employees * 2 Nights = 1,700 hotel room nights

What’s the carbon footprint on this?  remember, we also have a corporate responsibility to think “Green”.  :o)

Don’t loose the sale due to a low budget.

For more information on Lon Safko, go to:




Lon Safko is a respected international keynote speaker and the author of “The Social Media Bible” and “The Fusion Marketing Bible“.

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