ALWAYS mute your speakerphones

Are your telephone conferences cutting out when you’re listening on your speaker phone?  It’s a common occurrence with a simple solution.
Many conference call systems use a feature that mutes everyone to eliminate background noise. But if you or your office uses a speakerphone, then it’s also important to press the mute button. If you don’t, the conference call will intermittently cut-out.
Click here to find out why
Here are some tips for speakerphone users:

  1.  
    • Use the mute button on your speakerphone when you’re not talking
    • Test your speakerphone to make sure the volume sounds right.
    • Choose a quiet location. Shut door, turn of the cell phone etc.
    • Speak directly into the mic
    • Speak one person at a time

Commuting and conference calling

It’s that time of year when gas prices start creeping up. Yesterday we had someone in our office pay $60 dollars to fill up their mid-size SUV. That’s high considering we’re located in Texas where gas prices are traditionally low. 

So since we are in the business of saving people money, here are some helpful links:

http://www.gasbuddy.com/

http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/drive.shtml

You can also earn a $20 gas card for any conferencing referrals. And if you’re considering commute for a business meeting, remember that a tank of gas ($60) is the same as two, hour-long conference calls for five people

PowerPoint Tips for the “Presentationally-impaired”

Bad presenters are like toned-def singers… they don’t know how bad they reallyare. So just in case, here are some tips that will catapult you to becoming the next presentation guru (…or at least point you in the right direction)!

The 10 / 20 / 30 Rule – This stands for ten slides, twenty minutes, and thirty-point font. This is a formula you can implement as you develop and revise your next power point. Remember that the average person can only comprehend about ten different concepts in one sitting. Keep your presentation under twenty minutes to ensure that you leave enough time for Q & A and that you don’t bore listeners with too much information. Lastly, using 30 point font will force you to use fewer words and make your slides easier to understand. This tip comes from Guy Kawasaki (http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2005/12/the_102030_rule.html), who’s blog points us to this PowerPoint competition.

Six Words Per Slide – So why use fewer words? Seth Godin, best selling author and marketing consultant, suggests no more than six words on a slide, EVER (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2007/01/really_bad_powe.html ). He says that PowerPoint is meant to compliment you as the speaker and not become a replacement. Instead, he suggests using captivating images and catchy headers that will blend well with what you are saying. The fewer the words and the better the image, the more memorable it will be.

Cue-Cards & Handouts – If you limit the amount of words for each slide, then you should make yourself cue-cards to remember the details. You should also create a hand-out with important information on it for your listeners. We advise however that you don’t provide a hand-out until after the presentation or else people might leave early or become distracted by your notes. 

Top 5 Outlook Plug-ins / Toolbars

  1. AccuConference Outlook Plug-in: Allows you to easily create a conference and send a calendar notice to your participants. Its free and is compatible with all conference call providers.  http://www.accuconference.com/outlook/plugin/
  2. David Allen’s Productivity Plug-in:  Lets you implement David Allen’s email productivity tips with the click of a button. http://gtdsupport.netcentrics.com/buy/
  3. Did-They-Read-It: Tells you if, when, where (geographically), and for how long your e-mails are read. (http://www.didtheyreadit.com/index.php?aff=2&affad=3
  4. Google Desktop Search: Search your emails (and files) quickly and easily. http://desktop.google.com/
  5. Spambayes: An effective anti-spam plugin. http://spambayes.sourceforge.net/windows.html

Conference Call Contest

It’s relatively easy to hype up a one-time conference, but how do you keep your participants engaged for a weekly meeting? Try a weekly conference call contest!

For example, have your attendees share an innovative business idea. It could be a solution to a current problem, or a new idea to boost profit and sales. After everyone submits their idea, cast a vote and the winner will receive a gift card. In order to be eligible for the prize, the winner must attend next week’s meeting.

There are multiple ideas worth sharing. Submit your own weekly incentive to AccuConference and you can win a $25 restaurant gift card to Brinker Restaurants (www.brinker.com) Gift card can be redeemed at Chili’s, On-the-Boarder, and Macaroni Grill.

Terminate your call: The * 9 Command

Did you know that as the moderator you can terminate a call with the touch of a button? Simply press * 9. This will ensure that you are not charged extra if your participants do not hang up their phones. Avoid paying for the “stragglers” who stay on the line to chat, and for the phones that are not hung-up properly.

"Turn off" the barking dog (and other distractions): The * 6 Command

 

Dogs can be very entertaining, but they can also be a nuisance especially when they are barking during a conference call! Believe it or not, it happens. Many professionals work from home where noisy distractions abound. So if you have not trained your dog to "mute" on command, then consider pressing *6 to mute the phone when you’re not talking. And if you need to put participants on hold, and you don’t want the "hold music" to interrupt the call, press *6.

We encourage all of our clients to use the *6 feature on a regular basis, whether at home or at the office. This will enhance the conferencing experience for everyone.

Keep your conference names organized!

Are you having troubles making sense of your monthly statement?

Instead of naming your conferences 1,2,3,4,5…. try using the following:

1.) Department – (i.e. Marketing, Accounting, Public Relations.)
2.) Individuals – (i.e. John Smith, Lisa Brown)
3.) Region / Location – (City, State, or Country)

There are two types of conferences to keep your organized: Active and One-Time Use.

Active conferences, which are used on a regular or semi-regular basis, can be named like this:
 
1.) Marketing – Weekly Review
2.) Accounting – Quarterly Update

One-Time Use Conference, often used for special speakers or events, can be named like this:

1.) David Byrd – How to maintain a salt-water aquarium
2.) Rob Anderson – The secrets of a car enthusiast.

You can use similar steps when creating customized participant codes.

Follow these suggestions and you will be able to track attendance, usage and expenditures easily. 

Be a Rock Star


Would a rock star begin a concert without testing his instruments and microphone? In the same way, take the time to do a sound and system check before you start your conference call. This includes testing your phone / headset and your computer if you are using our web-based features. It is best to have someone else assist you who can call into your test conference to make sure everything sounds right.