The dollar is losing value in overseas markets. A main effect of this is increasing expenses for business travelers going overseas. Not only has the average ticket price risen due to the dropping dollar, but add in the growing fuel surcharge tax applied by airlines on top of that and you're in for a double whammy.
The Business Standard says:
"The signs are ominous. The euro is kissing 1.5, the yen is below 108 and a low for the last several years and the pound is persisting above 2. The Fed"s broadest measure of the dollar (the 37-country trade- weighted BROAD index) is close to its historical low of 84, reached in Oct 1978, and July 1995. The news gets bleaker still - oil is at $100 a barrel and commodity producers are planning to change their century-old practice of pricing in dollars."
So, with the dollar at historical lows, overseas travel is an increasingly less attractive proposition for businesses to consider. With this in mind, savvy managers weigh all the options that they have available as they squeeze profit dollars to their bottom lines. Teleconferencing, web conferencing with application sharing, video conferencing, and instant messaging are becoming an accepted alternative to everyday overseas business travel in this growing global marketplace. Although not every business trip can be replaced by teleconferencing, many aspects – such as initial planning meetings, or updates -- can fill in, or even surpass "going there".
F-14 Tomcat Jet on the USS Midway Flight Deck at San Diego Harbor in California
Webinars have become trendy these days. To entice viewers to sign up as well as watch the entire webinar you have to offer something that when the viewer ponders the question "What's in it for me?" His answer will be "plenty." If your invitation to the webinar has the fingerprints of an aggressive copywriter all over it you're going to decrease the number of attendees.
Don't turn your webinar into a sales pitch. Some people will be bored while some will be resentful and they will simply exit the webinar. It's not like sitting in a convention room and having to awkwardly walk out of the conference while hoping a representative of the host won't stop and say "Where are you going?" They will simply "click you off."
It has been estimated that less than 10% of people who participate in a webinar are prepared to sign on the dotted line. Don't focus your seminar on your specific products or services. Don't instruct your sales team to contact the audience immediately after the conclusion of the webinar.
Offer a presentation filled with interesting and unique information that will establish your company as an exceptional source of information. This will create a rapport and a trust with potential clients. The delighted attendees will actually be promoting your webinar and your company to other potential customers.
Crumpled pieces of paper, some pastries and assortment of beverages along with exhausted and bored people are typically found at a company brainstorming session. With the arrival of conference call, brainstorming participants are now often sprinkled about the country. One advantage of an audio only conference is the timid participants won't be intimidated to stifle themselves by sneers or scowls by their confident cohorts. Here are six tips that can make a teleconference brainstorming session worthwhile:
- After you have introduced the subject allow everyone some time to think and write down their ideas before the conversation begins.
- Don't allow harsh comments while the ideas are being tossed around.
- Encourage participants to offer any idea, even if it's a bit outrageous; it could lead to inspiring someone to have a great idea.
- Continually vote on the ideas; eliminating the ideas that received a small percentage of the votes. Eventually the winning idea will emerge.
- Be on the lookout for hidden agendas. Some participants might have secretly agreed in advance to reject the ideas of specific members. They may have agreed in advance to praise a specific idea and stimulate others to jump on board.
- Bring in new people for the brainstorming project in order to add stimulation to the process.
Attending a boardroom meeting requires certain etiquette. You wouldn't shove somebody's paperwork off the table to make room for your sales report. Conference calls also necessitate etiquette. Here are nine valuable conference call etiquette suggestions:
- Be on time. Don't disrupt the meeting. It's also a little rude to ask a punctual person to supply a review of what you missed.
- If the moderator of the conference call excludes you from the introductions; don't be shy, say hello and mention your name and your location.
- It's polite to acknowledge the contributions people are adding to the teleconference. "That's a great idea" or "Thanks for the information." It also makes the meeting seem more active.
- Disable the call-waiting feature on your phone.
- Don't interrupt while a participant is speaking.
- If you are on speakerphone all the little noises such as keyboard sounds, chairs squeaking and papers being shuffled are annoying to the participants.
- Don't hit the hold button. You don't want the group to be serenaded by unnecessary music or irritating beeps.
- Inform your co-workers regarding the timeframe of the teleconference so they won't enter your office making sarcastic comments about the Chief Financial Officer for everyone to hear.
- Don't use a cell phone; too much background noise.
Etiquette and conference calls go together.
Due to robust bandwidth and technological improvements in high definition video and large screens, an applicant's facial expressions during a video teleconferencing job interview with a lawyer can eliminate him from contention for a prized job at a prominent law firm. A person's facial expressions during a web or video teleconference meeting may convince a lawyer he's guilty of a misdeed and he could be slapped with a life changing lawsuit. Lawyers are constantly monitoring facial expressions and body language; seeking information that people are not volunteering and defining their personality. With the upgrades in technology some lawyers have been convinced they will finally be able to notice every little facial movement during a web conference. People will also be life size on the big screen.
Motorola and Cisco utilized the high quality image technology in video teleconference meetings to interview and select their legal team for a Supreme Court Argument. Those who winced during the interview while being peppered with difficult questions probably wished they were using older technology.
With the impressive improvements in sound quality and clarity of the picture, the majority of lawyers might become enthusiastic about video teleconferencing for depositions. Law offices will be able to substantially reduce their travel costs and shrink their carbon output. Video teleconferencing may soon become a significant factor in the legal profession.
Should you limit the number of participants in your conference call? That depends on the purpose of the conference call. Perhaps you have never considered putting a limit on the number of participants in a teleconference because it seems like you would want as many participants as possible but then again you may want to consider a participant limit to be more effective.
If the sole purpose of the teleconference is to announce something and give listeners information that you really want them to know (and tell others), then you should allow any and everyone to participate. When you set up a teleconference as a way of publicizing new products and services, you may or may not want to limit the number of participants. On one hand, the more people you expose to your company and products, the better. On the other hand, you have to know that listeners will not feel special or singled-out.
Conference calls that are set up as a dialogue might benefit from a limited number of participants. Publicizing this limit will may make the truly interested sign up quickly. If you want time for the speakers and participants to take an in-depth look at a topic, then a limit will give them the opportunity to do just that. A moderator will still be needed, but that person probably won't have to do as much as they would if you had a large number of people involved.
We found an interesting educational site today. It mainly caters to governments and technology, but it is a clearinghouse for top-notch audio archives of niche-related teleconferences from 2007 and 2008. You can visit the Lorman Education Services site for the depth of selection and pricing.
What I found highly interesting was that the archived teleconferences were available for purchase some with price tags as high as several hundred dollars and available to buy as MP3 download or burned to a CD and mailed to you.
When you have a teleconference, don’t consider it a one time event. Take some time to archive it back on your website like Lorman has done, offer it free to prospects, or even offer it for sale on your website. You may find a brisk business in your “after-event” media that may surprise you.
Even if you don’t want to sell access to your previous teleconferences, an online archive that can be downloaded to portable media players or to computers will allow others to preview the quality of your teleconference events potentially raising attendance at your next teleconference event. Think about it the opportunities for your teleconference marketing are endless!
When you think of the type of people who utilize conference calling, businessmen in conservative suits with their ties properly positioned comes to mind. However, if Butler County sheriff Joe Gaddie gets his way, men and women wearing prison jumpsuits in the state of Kentucky will be participating in the world of conference calling.
Sheriff Gaddie wants to take advantage of the conference calling equipment which was installed three years ago in the courts in all 120 counties in Kentucky. It's an excellent way to prevent taxpayers from spending a lot of money transporting the prisoners back and forth to court and other destinations.
Here is why the local community may want to be concerned - the system has not been activated. This is a prime example of government agencies not understanding the huge cost saving benefits that conference calling can afford. Government officials in Kentucky and other states that are not taking advantage of the huge cost savings from using conference calling for court cases might change their minds by actually totaling up the cost for transportation and then deducting the cost to turn on their conference calling systems. Just the decrease in gas expenses and the overhead of the personnel costs of security staff needed to transport a prisoner to the court house may make county managers reconsider their uses of conference calling and actually look for ways to expand its use within the prison system.
Once you've tried holding a few audio conferences, you should consider doing more.
Your organization could sponsor an entire series of audio teleconferences. This is just one more way to improve your industry profile, communicate with clients and customers and spread the word about what you do.
Conference calls are great idea generators. So if you have one you are certain to get ideas for the next one and the one after that from the discussion. You will hear about or come up with new projects, initiatives, and resources after you've had the opportunity to get into dialogue with others in your industry.
You can plan your series to go with a yearly calendar, academic calendar, or to follow some other pattern. You could schedule conferences on a quarterly basis or on some other plan that fits your industry.
As the plan gains momentum, you'll find that more people want to get on board. At the start you will likely have to do a lot of publicity. It will be up to you to get those phone lines jumping and to find speakers, within or outside of your organization. Eventually you will be able to book industry experts who are seeking to join your conferences.