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Does This Videoconference Make Me Look Fat?

Miss Manners has enlightened us all over the years on the proper fork to use, how much to spend on a wedding gift and the best way to tell your mother-in-law to stay out of your business. But one thing that seems to be unclear to most businesspeople is the proper etiquette for participating in videoconferences.

I enjoyed this recent Entrepreneur Magazine article on the subject. While it delved into some of the more basic recommendations (look into the camera when speaking, allow a two second pause before responding), it also focused on some less obvious tips like the concept of “foreshortening,” an unfortunate angle that results from joining videoconferences on a laptop from your couch or bed. I’m pretty sure we would all agree that enhancing our chins and nostrils is not the most flattering image to put forth! It also recommended removing clutter (chocolate shake, stuffed animals, the awful vase from your mother-in-law, etc.) from the room to appear more professional.

At Cisco, we’ve always held a firm belief that using telepresence properly can not only bring a personal touch to meetings, but actually make them more efficient and save time. In a recent blog post, my colleague, Kerry Best discussed the benefits of telepresence for dispersed government agencies. These benefits – such as reading each other’s nuanced body language and engaging in lively, natural dialogue without the common audio call hazard of talking over one another – also apply to the private sector.

The main etiquette point to keep in mind, as described in the Entrepreneur article, is that telepresence “isn’t a combination of talking on the phone and meeting in person. It’s its own thing, with its own set of rules.” We couldn’t agree more, and one final tip: keep your chocolate shake in the freezer for after the meeting.

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It’s Hot in Miami: Collaboration Summit News Highlights

It used to be that everyone had to be at the office to work. Phone, desk, computer, email–that was it. We’ve come quite a long way since those days and I personally am thankful. Using WebEx, Jabber, video, and a phone means I can work at home in my sweats on most days. I’m sure you have your own list of reasons that may or may not include a relaxed work-at-home attire.

This week at the Collaboration Summit in Miami, collaboration took a huge leap forward. Unified Communications via Jabber can now happen via a Web plug-in, so customers can use IM, Android, click-to-call and click-to-video from Apple, BlackBerry, Windows, and even Nokia devices.

Not only does collaboration offer great benefits to your own work experience, but these tools are a great way for partners to differentiate, too, by offering a host of integrated solutions and services to customers. And with channel programs, incentives, sales and marketing resources, partners can earn even more profits on the countless ways to customize collaboration solutions.

Plus, the Jabber Software Development Kit means new collaboration-enabled applications. (More details on the Collaboration blog.)

Let’s see, what else happened this week? New versions of WebEx, partners, parties, demos, and Cius ambassadors roaming the halls.
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Utah Education Network: A true innovator in education technology

Utah Education Network (UEN) joined the ranks of technology leaders in October when the Utah Governor broadcast a motivational speech to Utah high school students via live-telecast. Governor Gary R. Herbert was the first ever Utah governor to address students through statewide broadcast.

The Governor’s address was broadcast via telepresence from the USU/CEU center in Blanding and was available via live-stream to every high school in the state. A recording of Governor Herbert’s live event is housed on the UEN site. During the event, the Governor took questions via interactive video from students in Rich High School (Randolph, UT), Orem High School, and Murray High School. Read More »

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Maximizing Telepresence’s Value for Federal Agencies

Wanting to treat himself, my friend recently upgraded to the ultimate cable service in his area. He now has thousands of channels from which to choose, access to any movie on demand, and is the proud owner of a remote control with more buttons than the control panel of the Death Star.

You may wonder: Has he expanded his viewing preferences since acquiring the new system? Hmm … no. For one, he’s afraid of his remote—it’s way too complex. He also often struggles to turn the system on.

Those who invest in telepresence need not suffer this technological befuddlement. Nor would they want to miss out on the technology’s benefits, especially after making such a large investment. Yet, as Cisco’s Tim Markey pointed out at our Federal TelePresence Users Forum, several telepresence customers have struggled to maximize the potential of their systems. They had trouble transforming their workplace cultures to communities that embrace video as the paramount means of communication. Read More »

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Celebrating Five Years of TelePresence

As we celebrate the five-year anniversary of Cisco TelePresence, I think back on some of the most notable milestones and how we’ve helped transform the way businesses communicate and collaborate. We’ve changed the way people work and the way people learn; we’ve learned to do more with less and work across the globe. With telepresence, we’ve replaced countless hours of travel and given time back to companies and employees, while at the same time bringing people closer together despite great geographic distances between them.

I recently had surprise call from my five-year-old daughter via telepresence. She wanted to tell me about her day, so she sat down at our home telepresence end point, pushed where she saw my name, and with one touch she was talking to me in high definition. The same age as Cisco’s TelePresence technology, my daughter was able to call me from home, while I was at work. I am confident that in the years to come telepresence technology will proliferate to the point that all children will expect to see their parents live when they call them on video, just as my daughter already does.

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