Today’s business world is very diverse and many companies have employees as well as customers located all over the world. As you can imagine meeting with coworkers and clients can be time consuming and expensive if you are not located in the same area. Luckily, there are several types of conference call services options that you can use in order to effectively communicate without having to jump on a plane every time you want to meet.
Audio conferencing has been widely used for quite some time and is a cost effective way to hold a meeting with folks from around the globe. This type of conference call service uses the telephone and enables all the attendees of a meeting to hear each other in real time. People dial in to an open line and have a meeting much like they wood if they were physically located in the same room.
Video conferencing has been around for over a decade but has been mostly used by big companies due to the costs of the equipment. Today, however, costs have come down and this type of conferencing is available to even small business owners. A step up from audio conferencing, video conferencing involves the use of a camera and large television or monitor so not only can you hear each other, you can see each other as well. This works well for sharing visual info via a white board and is nice as it gives the team a more cohesive feel if they can see one another. Years ago I worked for a company that had two offices located about 1 hours drive away. We were in one office and our “sister” team in another. We had weekly meetings via video conference and it was a huge time saver not to have to drive for two hours just to attend a 1 hour meeting!
Web conferencing is a newer technology and makes use of the internet. People simply surf to a web site and the conference is held online. This is a great way to share files or visual aids and can be used in a power point presentation type of style. It can work well for training as well as for troubleshooting problems in software. Web conferencing has audio as well as visual and another technology that the others don’t have – text messaging. In a web conference, attendees have the ability to send a text message – be it a question or comment and you can hold the text for later rather than interrupt your presentation.
While these new technologies open up doors for different ways of meeting, the age old business etiquette of holding a meeting still holds true – with a few new requirements. Here’s some tips on how to hold a successful teleconference.
1. With teleconferencing, you need to be aware that your attendees might not all be in the same time zone. Therefore, you want to schedule the meeting for a time that is convenient for all. Whether you are holding an audio conference, video conference or web conference, you will need to schedule the media for the time you want the conference held. it’s a good idea to give yourself some leeway and schedule extra time before and after the meeting. This gives you time to iron out any technical issues before hand and allows for some wiggle room if the meeting runs overtime.
2. Once you have scheduled the room, be sure to send an invite to the attendees with the appropriate information. For a video conference it might be the channel or just the room if you have a video conference room. For an audio conference you will need the phone number and password. For a web conference, you will need the web url and password and, depending on the type of conference call service you are using, perhaps a phone number to dial in to as well.
3. Be sure to try out the call ahead of time. Dial or surf in to be sure everything is working. You want to be there first so you can “greet” your attendees and make sure everyone is online before you start the meeting.
4. Audio conferences and web conferences have another factor – the noise factor. With people dialing in from all over the place you can get a lot of background noise. It’s a good idea to ask everyone to mute the phone so the noise does not detract from the meeting. When it is their turn to speak, the can turn off the mute button.
Lee Dobbins writes for http://www.conference-call.minding-your-business.com where you can learn more about making a conference call and conference call etiquette.
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