Teleconferencing has been around for more than 50 years and continues to grow in popularity. By some estimates, North America accounts for approximately 70% of the conferencing market. The revenue of the conferencing industry is expanding by 10% a year while calling volume has been growing at a rate of 20%. Web conferencing and video conferencing are also experiencing significant growth; although revenue from the audio variation of conferencing is higher.
By utilizing teleconferencing and video conferencing, entrepreneurs located all over the world can base their business decisions on global factors and not just neighborhood factors.
Teleconferencing is now an established way of doing business for small businesses and medium size companies all over the planet. Millions of audio conference calls occur in the world on a daily basis. Frost & Sullivan's U.S. Audio Conferencing Services Market report estimates that total volume will make it to 35 billion minutes in the year 2010.
I realize some of you are not stunned by this number because your loquacious teenage daughter is almost gobbling up that many minutes by herself in a year and a half. Perhaps future generations will be astonished when they hear their parents tell stories how they used to spend hours flying in an airplane in order to attend a sales meeting.
Photo taken Vanessa Foster
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The last business meeting you had featured an assortment of unruly behavior; yelling, arguing, confrontations and topic hijacking. You need a strategy to run your next meeting in an orderly manner. Here are some useful tips:
Create a well structured meeting. Have a precise agenda which includes an objective. For example: Agenda topic - the cost of doing business. Objective - strategies to significantly decrease costs. Having a structured meeting decreases the opportunities for arguments among the participants. Striving to meet the objective can make everyone feel like part of a team.
Prior to the meeting, offer the attendees an opportunity to review the agenda and encourage them to suggest additional items for the agenda. By participating, the attendees will be less likely to oppose you during the meeting.
Only invite those who must be at the meeting. People who are forced to attend unnecessary meetings might become resentful or pout during the meeting.
Encourage everyone to participate and don’t let the argumentative types dominate the discussion.
As the leader of the meeting, have the courage to be firm with the disruptive participants.
Decrease confrontations by encouraging attendees to focus on their own goals and not evaluating the plans of the other attendees.
An orderly meeting can be highly productive.
It's always a challenge to find good employees. Most employers feel that employee referrals are often the best source for qualified candidates. Some even offer a small employee incentive for the referrals that are hired and stay with the firm for 3 months or more. Referrals are a great idea if you don't have a full time human resources department or spare management time for interviews. They also work well if you need to hire special skills really quick.
Another avenue you can try is your industry trade association. They may have an online job board or an email newsletter where you can post your job opening. For little or no cost, this ensures that you look at the best qualified people without having to sift through tons of irrelevant resumes. You may even be able to post the job listing anonymously.
Depending on the nature of the job, you may also find Craig's List (www.craigslist.com) to be a great resource. This is especially true for entry level jobs, attracting a younger workforce, or even for temp positions.
Here are some other online job boards to consider:
- www.dice.com (for tech jobs)
- www.idealist.com (for association or non-profit jobs)
There is usually a nominal fee for posting jobs to these websites. Don't forget, you can also add a "Careers" or "Jobs" section to your own website.
The trick about hiring is starting with the right job description. Be specific about the skills you are looking for. Don't put all your wish list items in there. If you have budget constraints, put the salary in the ad. This will allow candidates to self select which will save you a lot of guesswork and time.
You completed a very successful conference call. Feedback from the attendees was very positive. Some mentioned it was the best conference call they ever attended. Congratulations on the teleconference, yet it's time to pull out that list of those who signed up but did not attend your captivating call.
Send the "no-shows" an email that contains a link to your archived event. Let them know they have another opportunity to listen to the insightful conference call at their convenience. Briefly remind them why listening to the call is an excellent use of their time. Entice the no-shows by quoting a few of the attendees who gave enthusiastic responses.
In the no-show email, offer people a free trial for your services. If you had requested and received information about their product preferences in the registration form, offer them a tempting product discount. Free offers are also typically welcomed by way of a telephone call.
For those who actually attended the call, utilize an on-line survey device to gather attendee comments after the teleconference. Their comments can help you create an even better presentation. An online survey will also make them an active participant and less likely to "click you off." Remember to place a "contact me" box in the after the event email survey. With appealing emails the no-shows might be clicking the contact me box after your next conference call.
The English language is used throughout the world, however when you have conference call attendees that consider English their second language and live in places such as China and Poland there are some factors you might want to consider in order for all the participants to fully grasp your comments:
Americans are known as fast talkers. Slow down your speech so the "English as a second language" folks won't get frustrated or misunderstand your agenda.
Don't sprinkle your speech with metaphors or jargon. International attendees might be puzzled by your comments. If you say "Cat out of the bag," they may find it difficult to understand why you put a cat in a bag.
At appropriate times, ask the international audience members if they understand your comments and if they have any questions.
Sometimes it might be appropriate to hire an interpreter to assist you during the event.
Be careful with using humor in your speech. You may end up saying something offensive to English as a second language participants or saying something that makes you seem ridiculous and they loose respect for you.
Be on time. In some countries being just a few minutes late is an insult.
Your etiquette may have to be adjusted when working with an international audience.
If you think you can avoid work by calling your boss and complaining of a flu or cold; those days might soon be over. You won't have the opportunity to go shopping because your boss might suddenly throw together a conference call concerning a new client or perhaps to have a brainstorming session and your attendance from home is required.
You can probably remember at least a few occasions when a co-worker walked into your office, coughing and wiping his nose and looking miserable. You were terrified of acquiring the horrible germs. You tried to avoid him in a polite way but a few days later you were lying in bed feeling miserable. The sick employees can now stay home and attend meetings with their fellow employees with conference calls. You can touch the file cabinet without worrying about nasty germs.
Those who live in a heavy snow area and find no joy in the snow removal process at least have the benefit of skipping work a few days during the winter season due to hazardous road conditions. Teleconferencing will put an end to the mini break-from work. Snow and the flu are no longer excuses to avoid meetings.
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