As many of you know, I travel a great deal. And while I try to be home on Sundays for church, I can’t always manage it. That happened to me this Sunday, as I found myself in a hotel room on a Sunday morning, with no church within walking distance.
So what did I do? I Googled church. Yep. I searched online for a live webcast of a service for my denomination. I wound up worshiping with a congregation in Philadelphia, even though I was in Chicago. (Props to the pastor – who I might add, looked to be in his 60’s – for referencing his blog during the sermon.) I pulled out my smartphone and used the Bible app I downloaded to look up the scripture references and follow along. The only thing I didn’t have was a hymnal (and they didn’t announce the hymn numbers anyway, so it would have been hard to look them up.)
So why am I telling you this? Because it impacts what you do. If you run any kind of live meeting for people, whether it be for the general public or just for your team, there are things you can do to make that a welcoming place for people looking for that meeting right now.
Now you might say, “I have a hard enough time getting people to come to my meetings in person! Why would you think they would be looking for my meeting online?” But think about this for a second: we have huge unemployment right now. People ARE searching for ways to support their families. When they Google, can they find your opportunity meeting? And then add to that WHY people on your team don’t make it to the meeting…lack of childcare, husband worked late, car broke down, you name it. What if every single one of them could still come. They can if you make the technology work for them.
So how do you do that? Well, first, you need a webcam. You might already have one built into your laptop. Or you can purchase one for as little as $20. Here’s a list to get you started: Webcams on Amazon.com (affiliate link)
Next, you need a way to broadcast your meeting. Ustream is a free way to create a public or private meeting online. People can participate in real time via chat, or you can also set up a conference call (with a different service) for two-way audio communication.
Once you’ve got your meeting covered, you need people to have a way to access the content you reference. I had my Bible app on my smartphone to look up the scripture references. Does your company have an app that people can use to get the content they need? Or do you need to provide text onscreen (you can set that up through ustream) or documents via download (set up a special website for downloads, or put them in your team group for a closed meeting)? By planning ahead, you can give people the resources they need to participate fully in the experience you offer.
If you want real Google juice for your event, I suggest you make it a regular experience (weekly). You can even embed that show right on your website, if you’ve got one. Make sure you include a way that viewers can share your event with their friends with one click, use important keywords on the page related to what you offer, share the event through all your social networks, and encourage incoming links to your event page on your website. The more active the Page, the more likely Google will recognize it.
While online meetings don’t replace face to face, they can enhance the experience, and make it possible for more people to get there. Take my example…even though I regularly attend live services, when I couldn’t, I had an option that kept me plugged in. I appreciated that.
How can you provide options for the people you serve? Do you do this now? What could you do? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.