Corporate "Earnings Calls": Best Practices in Notification

The National Investor Relations Institute has a lot of good advice on their website on earnings calls and webcasts and what you can and should not do. Their advice is something you should take to heart if you are thinking of initiating or fine tuning your present earnings conference calls.

In setting up any kind of earnings teleconference, the thing that should be first and foremost on your mind is how to get the word on your corporation out to as many interested parties as possible. Although there is no one way to do this, there are certainly best practices.

If you are planning to hold an earnings teleconference, the best thing is to issue a press release to one or more of the major Internet corporate news sites. Of course, you should also post the date in a position of prominence on your company’s website and if you have a news letter, mention it in that as well. Although you might want to email investors who have asked for information about the company, do not think this is a substitute for a news release.

Information should be provided on the date and time of the call and how it can be accessed. Be sure to contact a service provider, like us, who can simultaneously connect hundreds of callers to your teleconference for this type of meeting.

In terms of other information, if you are going to be presenting financial information in the presentation, be sure the material is posted somewhere on your website or included in the webcast which should be archived on the website as well.

Education Online: The New e-Campus

When you want to take a college level class, learn a new skill, keep up-to-date on continuing education classes, the e-Campus has become a hot property and first choice for many.

Using the Internet with teleconferencing, application sharing, and interactive options such as forums for after class discussions the e-Campus is becoming a mainstream education choice. Not only have traditional four year colleges embraced the Internet as a way for professors to communicate lesson plans, post notes, and monitor class assignments, but graduate level courses are being served with interactive video allowing the actual class members to share and discuss topics under the supervision of an instructor in real-time.

Many of these online classes use teleconferencing and Web conferencing as ways to listen to and watch a lecture and to interact with a professor. Some classes use a forum or online blackboard to post lectures, video lessons, and some actually support far-flung virtual classrooms connected via the Web with class and instructor video feeds. The diverse use of technology to disseminate information, train and educate students, and offer higher level education to a wider sector of people is changing the face of higher level education.

Many online classes allow for self-paced learning and some prefer the strong class interaction of having everyone online at the same time. Either way education is taking a new advance and allowing more options in how you go to class on the new e-Campus.

Teleconferencing is Less Taxing

At some point the business traveler who spends countless hours waiting in airports or on runways has to wonder if it is really worth it.

There are times when you really do need to appear at a meeting or event, but there are just as many cases where you find that the expense and hassle of travel may not have been worth it after all.

After the travel arrangements have been made, you are whisked to the airport, you go through security, walk through the terminal to your gate, wait for your flight, return phone calls, spend the flight time reviewing notes—all this before you are arrive at your destination. You may feel as though you already completed a day’s work although your work has yet to begin,

This is where teleconferencing comes in because it allows you to accomplish your communication goals without having to hail one taxi.

When you choose to conduct business by teleconference, you will avoid the hassles of travel. You’ll be more alert and ready for discussion in familiar surroundings. By choosing to teleconference, you can be certain that you have all the up-to-the- minute information you need because you will be in your own office.

Copyrighting Your Teleconferencing Materials

You may want to consider the value and importance of copyrighting you audio, video, and PowerPoint conference materials, especially if they are available online for anyone to access.  Putting your presentation in PowerPoint rather than word makes it harder to copy and steal (adapt). You can also make your documents permission based, read-only so they cannot be edited.  Be sure to include a copyright symbol on the bottom of the page, and at the beginning and end of every recording.
If you are amenable to sharing the information, as long as you or your organization is cited as the source, you can state that policy also.

The point is you want to retain control of your content and your concepts. You may even want to register a copy of your presentation with the Library of Congress (www.loc.gov) in advance, so that if anyone tries to copy or repurpose it, that you will have protection under the Copyright Act. While every document you create IS copyrighted at its inception, filing the copyright gives you protection if you have to mount a lawsuit.

By the same token, if you are using anyone else's content in your presentation, you should call, email, or write them and ask for permission to use their content. If you are just using a sentence or two, you can simply cite it with the proper attribution or website, and you are sufficiently covered.

Be smart. Be honest. Better to be safe than sorry.

Create the Right Impression: Video conference Job Interviews

With the more distributed and global nature of modern business, more and more companies are moving to interviewing potential employees through video conferencing. The objective of the parties on both sides of the line are the same as if it were a face-to-face meeting: to hire the right person or to be hired.

If you are being interviewed via a video conference, here are some tips to help you do your best.

  1. Be sure to arrive well ahead of time so you can be briefed on the technology, get comfortable with the controls and surroundings, and set up the room or table the way you like it. Make sure you know where you can get technical assistance immediately if something happens to the reception or equipment during your interview. Minimize what you put on the table and keep whatever you do have there neat so you don’t distract the interviewer.
  2. Make sure you have the picture-in-picture option turned on so you can see how you look to the other person. It also helps you eliminate shadows that might fall on your face because of the lighting. If you see a shadow, you can generally make it go away by shifting your face or body slightly.
  3. Sit up straight, look alert and interested, and be sure to make eye contact with the interviewer. If you don’t, sometimes the camera will focus on another bright feature in the room.
  4. At the outset, ask the interviewer if their reception of your station is good and let them know immediately if there is any problem with you receiving them on your side.
  5. You will be asked the same type of questions as you would be at any other job interview, so be prepared. And be prepared to ask questions of your own as well.

Having a successful video conference job interview is more than just mastering the technical aspects of the videoconferencing venue. It is all about what you say and how you answer their questions. Knowing what the interviewer is going to ask is a big plus, because at your leisure, you can then plan what you want to say or highlight so when that question comes up, you are prepared instead of surprised or flustered as you furiously think of what to say.

There are plenty of websites now that list the most asked questions in interviews of all types. Just type "job interview questions" into any search engine and a legion of websites devoted to them will pop up. Many also have strategies on how to answer tough questions like "What are your weaknesses?" or, for people who were fired or who left a dysfunctional job situation, "Why did you leave your previous employment?".

There are not really any interview questions out there that have not already been asked a million times, and reading through a number of these websites and thinking of how you might answer some of them in light of your experiences and expertise, really helps build your confidence and comfort. Two things that are paramount to transmit in any interview situation.

Choosing The Right Hardware For Video and Conference Calling

The conference calling equipment of today comes with almost too many options for the average business owner to choose from. It becomes so much more than just an issue of eliminating the nasty entanglement of wires. Sophisticated options for muting, recording and call inclusion are among a few of the special premiums offered. If your video conferences are not quite up to par because periodic static or fuzziness of picture interferes with their presentation, there is hope that these and other problems can be easily resolved or eliminated. Read on for some tips on what to look for when choosing the proper hardware for your video and conference calling.


Desktop Computers and the Internet

Although it would seem almost unnecessary to say it, some offices, particularly newer ones, are not fully equipped with desktop computers. You must invest in PCs for your staff if you plan to incorporate conference calls into your business protocol. You can actually calculate your net worth based on the quality of the computer technology you can afford.

Each employee should also have total Internet access, far beyond the ability to check email or download a joke of the day. The extra expense is worth it for the vast array of information and the ease and speed of communication that it provides for web conferencing.

Avoid low quality and Mobile Phones

With mobile phones, many variables can cause issues such as changing environments, wind noise (when talking outside) and background noise. Make sure you are using a solid land-line (cannot be had with a cordless phone).

There are a few cordless alternatives, however, should you prefer to go that route. Conference call cell phones shaped like a half star-fish can operate without the wall outlet and only need battery power. This might work well in a conference room, which lacks the floor telephone jack in the middle of the room, which does sometimes occur. A wired phone still might be a better way to go because of the problems with frequencies that often occur in many office buildings.

VOIP services have their pros and cons. Their lines use the Internet to transfer audio and because of the varying levels of speed involved, these lines can waver in voice quality. With VOIP, make sure to use *6 to mute extraneous noise.  VOIP costs less, especially in regard to long distance calls, which are offered at flat rates, and incoming calls can be automatically routed to a VOIP phone regardless of where the Internet connection is located. VOIP phones can also be integrated with other Internet services and a user can easily send or receive messages or data.

About headsets

For best results, use a headset with a quality microphone. A headset allows you to have both hands free, and when you use a standard model, in which the phone is held with your hand, it can cause variations in the volume due to the unstable position of the microphone and your mouth.

About microphones

Whether built into your PC or an external plug-in, you can't do without a microphone if you wish to communicate over the Internet. Spend a little more than the minimum because the cheaper ones will not eliminate static or provide for a clear conversation. Microphones provide that which there is no substitute for during a video conference; namely, the clear enhancement of voices picked up from other participants on the conference call.

About Webcams

A webcam is simply a camera that is connected to the Internet. This broad definition makes it difficult to determine which type will best suit your particular business needs. If your conference calls will be soley of a verbal nature, you won't need a webcam. Face-to-face-interaction however, should never be underestimated, as it permits the utilization of facial expressions and professional demeanor. A webcam will allow you to turn a computer-enabled meeting into a personalized one.

One of the biggest business mistakes made with webcams is that they aren't given the "marketing attention" they deserve. Often they are simply “thrown together by an astute computer employee who doesn't realize the economic power that a webcam can generate. Highly rated webcam sites are almost always capable of 5 frames per second or more. Consider investing some time and money to make your company webcam pay off for you.

Choosing the right hardware for your next videoconference can make all the difference between creating an effective business meeting and a disappointment. Choose wisely and spend some quality time in understanding all the options available. Don't buy impulsively even if you are under pressure due to a time frame or other factors. There are so many options available that there probably are several hardware solutions that would work for your company.

Just remember that the videoconference you save may well turn out to be your own!

Teleconferencing Technology Can Improve Health Care

Agencies that provide health care can use teleconferencing to confer with and counsel patients.

A network of mental health agencies in Ohio has used teleconferencing technology since the 1990s. They faced several hurdles in training staff and reaching patients, especially in rural areas. Teleconferencing provided a way for them to keep staff up-to-date and communicate with patients who lacked transportation.

At the Woodland Centers there were some questions about how patients would handle talking to a screen, but they found that the technology was a boon to their operations.

In addition to the challenges the agencies faced in instructing their own staff, it was also difficult to find qualified psychiatric staff. They were able to find the staff they needed by offering a teleconferencing option.

For example, a psychiatrist can have patient records sent to a computer in a home office. This file transfer can take place while the professional is teleconferencing with a patient. This way doctors can cut down on travel time to medical facilities.

Continual improvements to technology mean that medical professionals and patients who communicate through teleconferencing can see and hear each other much better than in the past.

Using teleconferencing can benefit health care providers and communities they serve.

Teleconferencing in Community Colleges

For students at community colleges with multiple campuses, it can be a big hassle to travel from campus to campus, sometimes hours away from each other. Thanks to teleconferencing technology, students from any campus can be taught by one teacher in one "virtual classroom." This increases the availability of students to be able to take the course, as well as decreasing the need for multiple teachers a college has to hire to teach one specific course.

This amazing technology makes classroom teaching more educationally efficient, by being able to share pictures, slides, and video, virtually anywhere and to anyone. This idea is also very fuel efficient, as it cuts down on travel for both students and faculty.

Most community colleges in the United States are taking advantage of this astounding breakthrough in the world of virtual interaction. Teleconferencing can be great for almost any subject, especially the sciences, math, liberal arts, history, foreign languages, business, economics, human resources and anything else that involves a great deal of talking and visual learning. With special microphones built into each of the screens, teleconferencing can also be a practical tool for class discussions.

Teleconferencing has changed the traditional classroom into a worldwide network of educational possibilities.

Use Teleconferencing to Plan Family Gatherings

Teleconferencing isn't just for moguls and executives: this technology can be used to plan all kinds of events.

Many families spend a lot of time and energy on the phone planning family reunions. You can cut down on numerous phone calls by using teleconferencing. Seeing everyone face-to-face can minimize the time spent organizing the festivities.

Although the reunion is a social occasion, there is nothing wrong with taking a business-minded approach as you put it together.

If there are things that family members in other parts of the country need to see videoconferencing makes it easy to share. Relatives can preview and give their opinion on the family reunion t-shirts, decorations and other items.

Teleconferencing can make planning smoother and cut down on any misunderstanding. It is much easier to understand people when you can see them. Plus, there will be no need to pass on messages when you have everyone right there.

Using teleconferencing is also a way to get some of the family together beforehand. There'll be fewer awkward greetings because a number of you will have been working together. Those of you who have already built some camaraderie can spread the cheer around once the reunion actually takes place.