Arches National Park "Three Wise Men"
Photo Taken By Vanessa Foster
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Conference calls are not just for work, you know. A basic telephone is, above all, a communication device. And there is no more important function of communication than that of keeping up with friends and loved ones.
Why not schedule a teleconference with friends in far-flung parts of the country, or may even the world. Before you laugh or say it sounds ridiculous, think about it…you schedule business meetings and rehearsals and because you schedule them you make every effort to keep these appointments. So why not schedule time to talk and catch up with friends. Sure, you all have cell phones and perhaps after 9pm you can talk for free, but will you?
It is hard to get a conversation going with multiple people on cell phones. Or if several of you try to talk using the speakerphone mode, it may not sound quite right. A provider of audio conference tools has the set-up to make your conference call with friends sound crisp and clear.
Yes, it is saying something about the times in which we live when people consider setting up conference calls with friends. But the reality is that many of us are so busy that we just sit back, watch our friendships erode, and lament it all.
If you have been e-mailing friends who are far away, it is time to step away from the computer. LOL cannot replace the sound of genuine laughter. Get a group of friends together and find a time to really talk. You'll feel a whole lot better. And you just may decide to conduct a little business after all: you can use conference calls to plan your next group vacation.
To publicize a series of teleconferences, you have to get creative. Notice we said publicize, not advertise. Of course you can take out ads in trade publications and newspapers, but if your budget is limited, you may want to save those funds for another venture.
Instead of taking out ads in publications, you can write letters to the editor when you see an article about a topic your teleconference will address. Of course you have to mention the teleconferences in the letter! But don't make it like a commercial. Make sure you concentrate on relevant commentary about the topic at hand and mention the teleconferences as just one way your organization keeps the public informed.
Make sure that you talk about upcoming teleconferences every chance you get. When you meet people at conferences, happy hours and networking events, don't forget to tell them about what your organization is doing. This seems so simple, but you'd be surprised at just how often we all forget that word of mouth is the best way to advertise. Even if you meet someone and think that they are not in your industry, tell them about the teleconference anyway. They may know someone else who'd be interested.
If you have set up a video conference to communicate with colleagues, clients, customers or students in another country, make sure you are not saying things you don't want to say.
You may be very fluent in another language or your fellow video conference participants may be very fluent in English—but, it is still possible for your message to be lost because of confusing body language. As you know, non-verbal communication trumps verbal every time. Of course people are listening to you, but they are also taking in your gestures and movements at the same time and these resonate much more than do your actual words. No need to be stiff or unnatural, just consider your movements as you speak.
It is easy to become impassioned while making your point and slip into a hand signal or gesture that is innocuous or innocent in one place, but offensive in another. It is likely that video conference participants will know that you made a gesture out of ignorance, but they will still feel its effect. They won't blame you, but you will still have left them unsettled and that is not what you want to do.
It is also possible to make a gesture that, while not offensive, could confuse those viewing the video conference because it means something different in their culture. Here are a few gestures to avoid:
- The thumbs up sign
- The OK sign (making a circle with your thumb and forefinger)
- Vigorously nodding the head
When your team is far flung across the nation or around the Globe, instant messaging applications can give you quick access. I like to have my team all use the same instant messaging application. We all can see when each other are online. The message can be as short at a sentence, but gets an instant answer.
Using instant messaging you can even multi task, assigning client follow-up to a team member while you are on the phone with the client. One rule that we've established is that anything that needs numbers or prices however, must be done by email so we all have an archive copy. The hardest thing that I have had to learn is to update my status when I am unavailable or walk away.
Team members don't even need to be out of the office to benefit from the increased productivity that instant messaging can provide. Many offices use instant messaging even though they could just yell out the door or over the top of a cubicle to get an answer. Instant messaging versus yelling your question is so much more professional and does not add to your office background noise. Think of instant messaging as your new instant information pipeline and productivity time saver.
Sometimes in the flurry to plan an event, such as a web conference, many details are left unattended. This can happen to any organization, whether it is their very first web conference or they hold such an event every week.
Take some time to think about all that is involved, make lists, and divide up tasks. Do what you have to so that you can be assured that things will run smoothly.
You have no control over attendees' schedules, but you can make sure that the timing is coordinated. If you have participants in different parts of the U.S. or different parts of the world, you need to be certain that everything is set for the right people at the right time.
It is quite possible to get into a tizzy about speakers, technology, topics and other matters, forgetting that time is of the essence.
Also, be certain to inform participants not only of the time, but also of the duration of the web conference. It is so easy to concentrate on getting the start time correct, that you omit to advise people of how long they are expected to attend. You want key people to be able to take part in the entire web conference, so give them advance notice to clear time on their schedules.
We've all received them, but are you sending them yourself? I am specifically talking about an email message signed by an executive but with a Yahoo.com, Hotmail.com or Gmail.com address in the signature.
When you have a website, you should really use the associated email addresses that contain your domain name. Not only does this market your brand - your site and you, but using your domain name in your email address is a silent salesman to drive traffic to your website for prospects, customers, and even clients. Once on your website they can learn more about your products and services. You would be absolutely amazed at how many times you will find email application notes as referrers in your website traffic logs.
Yes using some of these free email services is easy, but does not communicate the level of professionalism or the services that you may provide. If you feel that you really must use these generic email addresses, you may want to consider having your custom domain email forwarded to your catch all Yahoo.com, Hotmail.com or Gmail.com account.
When you are an entrepreneur, you have to take advantage of every edge, every avenue, and every free opportunity to promote your brand and your services. There is simply no better way to do this than to use your own domain name as your email account.
Some students in New Jersey recently got a lot more out of their show and tell session than usual because they were having show and tell with a class in another country.
A classroom in the U.S. and a classroom in Taiwan were both outfitted with video cameras and television sets so that the students could have an international exchange. It is one thing to read about another country or see pictures of objects from that country…but it a completely different experience to actually see and interact with people in that country.
Setting up a video conference can help you take the classroom experience to new levels.
If your city has a sister city in another country or if your school has formed a relationship with another school, consider using video technology to take advantage of the partnership. Seeing it on a screen really is the next best thing to going there.
Perhaps your class has already made a trip to a foreign country. In that case, use a video conference for follow-up and to cement ties between your students and their new friends they made on their trip. There may have been some things your students were curious about, but unable to see during their stay. And surely you found that your hosts abroad had many questions for you. A video conference is a great way to keep the lines of communication flowing.
Certainly if you should charge or not for your conference call as well as how much you should charge is totally up to you. There are two different philosophies when it comes to charging. Some feel that they should offer conference calls free as a way to expose prospects to their services in a non-threatening way. Impressing potential clients with their business acumen or level of expertise in their field may work for you as an approach as well. This is certainly a very workable strategy as every one loves to get something for nothing. The other philosophy is that unless you charge a prospect will not assign value to your information.
When you don't charge for your conference call, you may unwittingly communicate that their attendance is not important to you. Attendance at your calls may suffer as the call appointment may be easy to blow off if there is a conflict or the day gets busy, because, you know it is free and there will most likely be another one.
Sometimes the best in between is to charge a modest amount and refund the fee against the first order or service contract. Whatever you choose, paid or non paid, you may want to test several options, check out your competition, and ask your own clients their opinions.