AccuConferenceAccuConference

Mar
30
2009
Picking the Right Conference Call Service George Page

As more and more companies choose to do business utilizing conference calling, the question is often asked of us: How do I know exactly what kind of conferencing tools I'll need?

We feel that when you choose a conference call service, you should keep in mind future conferencing needs, even if you're sure now you'll never need anything that fancy later on. We always encourage folks to keep their options open.

Accuconference offers a wide range of conferencing tools, some of them you definitely need now and some you don't. However, adding the ability to share applications later is always an option, so no worries.

I just want to host a straightforward conference call.

A simple conference call among a smaller group (less than fifty) will require a conference line, invitations, and a date that works for everyone taking part in the meeting. Check it out.

What if I want to add a PowerPoint presentation?

Web conferencing allows you to share, review and revise documents or web pages, demo products or present a proposal—all in real-time, sharing the same screen space. Look here.

How about video? I really think it's important that people can see me as I speak.

Video conferencing will never replace the in-person meeting, but it will support your business meetings by providing you with unique ways to interact. The online collaborative tools can enhance a meeting in ways that can't be done in person. Find out more here.

Plus, Accuconference offers recording playback at your convenience, secure conference controls right from your computer desktop, and toll-free customer support for any questions you may have. A full list of our customer benefits is here.

Often people aren't sure about teleconferencing because they're nervous about learning how teleconferences work, not sure if everything will run smoothly at the right moment, and general nervousness about having to speak with a group via the telephone.

We can't help you with your nerves (talking on the phone in a teleconference will get easier over time, we promise), but we can promise a stress-free, easy to use experience when you choose our teleconferencing system. Our rates are reasonable and well-priced when compared with other conferencing services, and we offer outstanding customer service. And I mean outstanding. Our customer service specialists will and often do bend over backward to help our clients with any issue.

Still not sure about conferencing even after that amazing list of benefits?

If you have any questions or want more information on how Accuconference can help you with your teleconferencing needs, please let us know.

Mar
27
2009
This One is Just Right. Maranda Gibson

Porridge Cam

Mar
26
2009
Business Communications Across Generations Maranda Gibson

For employees who are Gen Y and Gen X, instant messaging (IM) is a no-brainer. They come into work and log in, using IM to contact fellow employees and others throughout the workday. No problem, right?

For the older generation of Baby Boomers, IM is a problem. It's not how they want to communicate with their colleagues or their peers. They prefer email, the phone, and face-to-face communication. So they choose not to log in to IM first thing on a workday morning.

It may not seem like a big deal, but for companies who rely on all employees to communicate effectively with each other, a little thing like not using the same tools can escalate into something more menacing. What kind of alternate communication channels should be encouraged? How does a company facilitate failing communication between two very different generations of workers?

1. Recognize the needs of each generation and keep everyone focused on the work to be done. Each generation has a way they prefer to work, as we've seen, Gen X and Y adore IM and social media, whereas Baby Boomers prefer more of a personal approach (phone, email, face-to-face), so can't the work get done by utilizing all of these communication channels? Have a face-to-face meeting at first, move to email and IM later, and then end the project with another face-to-face meeting is just one suggestion. Make it work!

2. Utilize each generation's disparate approach to problem solving so that everyone feels as if they play a valuable role. The face-to-face approach helps Baby Boomers feel that they are bringing their experience forward, whereas IM and social media helps Gen Y do research they need to find that same information. Both generations can provide the experience and research, it just takes a well-structured environment to bring it out.

3. Think through each generation's work concerns and figure out how to create forward motion together. While Baby Boomers want stability (and thus often attempt to control a project by their experience and "that's how we've always done it" approach), Gen Y wants to move forward with their careers by thinking outside the box. How a company melds those two concerns and moves forward is a matter of leadership. A manager who sees both sides, and welcomes all viewpoints and concerns will not bend to either side in finding a solution.

4. Above all, each generation wants respect in some way. The best way to give it to them, is to explain that everyone's approach requires some give and take. If Gen Y will let the Baby Boomers have their face-to-face meeting, perhaps the Baby Boomers can attempt to sign in to IM each morning and make their vast experience and expertise available to those who seek it.

All in all, the generation gap requires a strong management role that won't be influenced for or against any communication approach. That's the main challenge of business communications during this time.

Mar
23
2009
Are You Too Negative? Maranda Gibson

As a boss, is it hard for you to hear other opinions? Is it too difficult for you to accept suggestions from other people, especially your employees? When a client suggests you make a change in your operations or policies, do you instantly discard the idea?

What follows are some tips for becoming a more positive, interactive communicator.

1. Stop yourself before you go rogue negative. An instant reaction just is not worth it. Think before you instantly discard anyone else's feedback or ideas. When you stop to consider and think about your reaction, people will appreciate you taking them seriously.

2. Realize that people do want you to succeed. If people are giving you suggestions for improvements for your company, better policies, or streamlining day-to-day processes, recognize that they have your best interest at heart. Sure, some folks can be snarky and demeaning, but for the most part if someone brings it up, they're trying to help you.

3. Be open to off-the-wall ideas. Some of the best ideas coming your way might appear to be lame and genuinely ill formed, but before you quickly and instantly reject them, consider how you might refashion some of these ideas into workable solutions. Be open to fresh, unconventional ideas always.

4. Don't forsake your gut. Don't take on suggestions willy-nilly without really understanding why and how they will be implemented. If you have a check about a certain idea, you are the boss. Your job is not only to act on good advice, but also to ignore and refuse to act on bad advice. Simply listening to a plethora of ideas does not mean you have to take action on every single one. Chances are you'll only actually entertain about 10% of the ideas you hear. That's a healthy percentage.

5. Confirm with trusted confidants. Your board of directors or trusted group of likeminded business owners can help you weed out the good from the bad. If it's a truly good idea, others will think so, and they will bring up every aspect they can in order to help you decide. A trusted group of advisors can see right through the scams of the amateur; they can also know when to take that amateur idea and make it go pro!

All in all, thinking about your response and allowing yourself to be open to communication tactics and ideas you might not have otherwise entertained may not be something you've ever considered before. Maybe now is a good time.

Mar
20
2009
The New Parent/Teacher Conference Maranda Gibson

the new parent/teacher conference

Mar
18
2009
How to Crush Creativity George Page

In some companies -- especially large ones – creativity is expected and encouraged only by those paid to be creative.  The rest of the employees are expected to follow policies and procedures, keep quiet, and do what their told.  Of course it's never expressed like that, but the end results are the same.

But where do good ideas come from?  Where is the next gem that will send sales skyrocketing?  A spark of creativity can hit anyone at anytime.  When that does happen, it's best to support both the idea and the person.  Richard Highsmith of BusinessKnowHow writes some tips on how to NOT encourage creativity in the workplace.

First, remember that a man is an island.  Your employees get a paycheck and should be grateful for this.  Any ideas they have were probably inspired by your greatness and are therefore yours.  Plus, you're insulating them from upper management and office politics.

Of course, who are they to suggest anything anyway?  You know best about your company and department.  Only you can see the forest because they are all pruning trees.  Because of this, make sure you tell them your (better) opinions often.  How else will they know what's going on.

By just reading the title of this post I'm sure you realized that I don't really want to encourage the crushing of creativity.  However, I'm sorry to say the above examples aren't made up.  If avoiding these examples are ways to have more creativity in the workplace, what are some proactive things you can do?

Well, realize that other people can have good ideas, no matter their station in life.  If you can't be congratulated for coming up with something creative, at least you can be known as having the foresight, intuition, and humbleness to be able to spot and implement someone else's good idea.

But you can't spot what isn't there, so ask people their opinions about problems.  Have meetings to let anyone throw any idea out there.  Let people know that their thoughts are welcome, appreciated, and most importantly, listened to.

Posted by George Page, Communication Specialist

Mar
16
2009
Reading Without Words Maranda Gibson

Whenever we talk to someone, we don't so much pay attention to what they say as how they say it.  As it's been said before, 70% of communication is done through body language.  So, it would seem to be important to understand what the body is saying, especially in business.

Body Language

In his post on SalesGuru, John Boe begins with a great example of the power of body language using the Nixon vs. Kennedy election.  Right after their pivotal debate, opinion polls reported voters watching on TV felt Kennedy had won, while radio listeners were sure that Nixon was victorious.  What it came down to - for the TV viewers at least - was that Kennedy looked more presidential.

It is with this in mind that we look at business communication.  What is your customer telling you verbally that their body suggests otherwise?  What signals are sent that a co-worker is unhappy, in disagreement, or upset with a project or policy?  More importantly, if you could know all of these things all the time, how better would you communicate?

Boe's blog post is mainly geared for sales, but his points can be used for negotiations as well.  "Mirroring" is one such tactic.  This is where you mimic the other person's subconscious body language and it sends the signal to them - again subconsciously - that you like and agree with them.

These signals and tactics aren't for face-to-face communication only.  They can be invaluable during a video conference as well.  In fact, the signals may even be easier to spot.  Most people on a video conference tend to make sure they are clearly visible and close enough to the camera to be seen well. 

This makes it easier to spot someone touching their ear or scratching their nose.  And when they cross their arms, it's like a billboard saying, "I'm against this."  If you become good at reading body language, video conferences may be your preferred method of meeting.

At the end of Boe's post is a quiz about reading body language which I highly recommend to you.  For example, what would you answer to this question:

1. What emotion is associated with the "palm to chest" gesture?

A. Superiority
B. Critical judgment
C. Sincerity
D. Confidence

Go on, give the quiz a shot then see how many body language indicators you see in a day.  Good luck!

Posted by George Page, Communication Specialist

Mar
13
2009
Quacking Maranda Gibson

Twitter Cartoon

Mar
12
2009
3 Meeting Tips for Leaders Maranda Gibson

A meeting is a time to show what kind of leader you are.  Yes, it's also a time to gain or share information, but it can be one of the few times that employees get to see their boss at the helm.  How you run your meetings will tell a lot to your employees about you and the state of the company.

John Baldoni of the Harvard Business Press wrote about leaders and meetings in a recent blog post, "Now more than ever, senior leaders need to be seen and especially heard by the people who are counting on them for direction and focus." 

Meetings are times when you can be visible and proactive, so use them to inspire your employees.  Here are three meeting tips Baldoni gave us to help leaders run a solid and energizing meeting

1.  Be Focused – It's sometimes easy to get distracted or off on a tangent during a meeting, but this isn't strong leadership.  Have an agenda, stay on task, and schedule tangents for another time.  To quote Baldoni again, "Executives need to demonstrate their knowledge of the situation as well as their command of the situation."

2.  Tell Stories – This piece of advice is invaluable.  A lot of information is thrown around during a meeting, and often even copious notes don't catch it all.  And if you record your conference calls or web conferencing, you still have to remember what the webinar was about.  Figure out what your main point of the meeting is and tell a story about it.  A story will make it memorable, long after the notes are gone.

3.  Hear from the Field – A good leader knows they cannot do everything themselves, but must delegate.  It can be the same during a meeting.  You don't have to stand in front of everyone for an hour to be seen as a leader.  Instead, let people report about their departments, tell what they've accomplished, or voice their ideas or concerns.  You and everyone else can learn from these people, and perhaps be inspired by them.

Posted by George Page, Communication Specialist

Mar
11
2009
The Pros and Cons of Using Instant Messaging on the Job Maranda Gibson

As we saw previously, using IM is a generational thing. But how does IM work in an office environment? How best is IM integrated into proper office procedures?

1. Use IM as another form of email. If you receive information on IM, respond that you received it and will respond when you can. The instantaneous aspect of IM sometimes can lull users into a sense of non-response. Always respond, even if it's to say "Can't talk. I'm in the middle of something. I'll get back to you."

2. Be a leaver of messages. Especially when someone has an away message up, leave a succinct message and don't pester.  Instead of using IM as a chatter tool, transmit the important message and then don't keep typing. Work is not the same as a chat with your friends online.

3. Use chat rooms when there's more than one person involved. Nothing irritates people more than trying to have a discussion and one user takes forever to respond. If there's more than one person involved in the discussion, invite everyone into the chat by using a chat room. Better to have everyone involved from the first word rather than having to repeat from person to person.

4. When in disagreement, try a phone call or a face-to-face talk. Nothing online is worth insults and disrespect. If you can't resolve your issues through IM (or even email), pick up the phone, or go find the person and resolve it face-to-face. I've saved myself hours of IM discussion using this tactic.

5. Respect your fellow users' time. Forwarding web sites and cartoons and news stories is fine, but don't inundate your colleagues with an endless stream of content that only distracts from work. Sure, it's fine to have a little, but a lot gets old fast.

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