Reinvent Your Online Meetings the “Henry Ford” Way

The Ford Motor Company has such a long history that today many people think Henry Ford invented the automobile. He didn’t, of course, but his accomplishments are quite a story (with good lessons for online meeting organizers.) So let’s see how old Henry created a great company and made himself wealthy in the process.

 

Before Henry Ford came along, the automobile was a novelty item that only the rich could afford. But thanks to his ingenuity, automobiles have changed the world by bringing affordable transportation to the masses.

 

What Ford Really Invented

Automobiles were originally manufactured one at a time in small shops. That worked pretty well, but they were expensive. And if something broke . . . there were no spare parts. So you had to go back to the same shop and ask them to make you a new part — if the shop was still in business.

As it turns out, car-making was a risky business, even way back then. You had to purchase expensive equipment and raw materials then hire the labor to produce a few cars from scratch.

Ford’s idea was to reverse the process of manufacturing cars. Instead of bringing the equipment and materials to the workers, he would bring the workers to the equipment and materials.

And the assembly line was born.

 

 

Assembling Meetings

Do you see the parallels with today’s videoconferencing? It’s amazing how participants still travel to meetings. How much easier it would be to bring the meeting to the participants.

Oh sure, in-person meetings can be wonderful, just like one-of-a-kind cars would be fun. But what if you had to wait for months to get a new car . . . . or a spare part. Not so much fun.

And what if you could only meet with your key employees and customers once in a while? Thanks to modern videoconferencing, the inconvenience of in-person meetings is now a thing of the past.

 

 

Where Great Ideas Come From

Henry was a crafty fellow, but he didn’t think of the assembly line all by himself. He studied the Chicago meat-packing industry, where they bring the cows to the processing plant, not the other way around.

Let’s not get into too many details about what happens when the cows arrive. We’ll just say a definite process happens. The end result is . . . um . . . a food group :)

Ford adapted an existing concept and transformed an industry.

 

Processing Your Attendees

Not that your meeting participants are cows or cars, but meetings need a process too.

So goals are a good place to start. Will your meeting produce automobiles or hamburgers?

(Oops, cows again.)

More to the point, is your meeting intended to generate ideas? Inspire actions? Produce decisions? Educate participants?

Remember that even for routine meetings, you need a content plan. Meetings without a clear agenda tend to sputter along endlessly. Information presented without a Powerpoint slides or electronic whiteboard always seem to take longer and produce less favorable results.

And who needs to attend your meeting. If you’re holding a webinar to sell to prospects — the more the merrier :) But for a budget review videoconference, maybe only number crunchers and decision makers need to attend.

 

Polish Your Skills

Henry Ford made a famous remark that sounds strange today:

“People can have the Model T in any color – so long as it’s black.”

Of course, he revised that policy. Today, Ford cars are available in a bewildering assortment of models, colors and accessories.

Your new-and-improved meetings can get better and better too, if you take the time to explore the ClickMeeting features in your account.

As an organizer, you can take all the setup time you need. So think about the most effective use of your “assembly line” components:

 

  • Participants feel more comfortable if you adjust Meeting Room Rebranding with company colors and logo.
  • Organize your meeting content using Powerpoint slides then use Presentation features to stay on track.
  • Experiment with the Whiteboard, until you are comfortable with the drawing and editing tools.
  • Learn to use the Polls feature to get useful feedback and keep participants engaged.
  • Figure out whether it’s better for you to share your desktop or use the built-in browser.
  • Practice sharing the camera and microphone to allow participants to share questions or insights.
  • Learn to keep an eye on the interactive Chat feature, so you can respond to participants who need help.

 

And use the webinar recording feature, even if you don’t intend to share the recording. Reviewing it can give you valuable insights into how to improve future meetings.

 

Adapting Ideas

Other businesses quickly picked up on the assembly line idea, and it spread around the world, enabling manufacturers to bring us thousands of affordable products to enhance our lives.

In the process, history proved once again that we stand on the shoulders of giants. Those who come before us leave ideas we can build upon.

 

So don’t reinvent the wheel. Instead, adapt Henry Ford’s greatest idea: don’t bring the people to the meeting, bring meeting to the people.