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Dec
19
2007
Energizing Your Teleconference: Using Fun to Make an Impression – Part II Maranda Gibson

Making a conference call or audio workshop memorable and having attendees leaving, but remembering what fun they had and all the great new people they met is an art.  Much of it comes from getting the teleconference participants to interact with each other in a relaxed and stress-free atmosphere.  Lightening the mood and providing a lot of lighthearted topics and free interaction within the group is one key element in making a conference memorable.  Below is a list of other ways you can make your conference call or audio workshop something to be remembered and talked about for years to come.

  1. Think about the liberal use of humor. Remember to be cognizant of taste, of course don’t use off color humor or jokes stay safe.  But like the entertainment elements, when incorporated into presentations these help to lighten the mood for attendees.
  2. Have teleconference conveners and staff interact with the group throughout the event.  This not only helps attendees identify the people running the show, but it serves the purpose of lightening the mood and presenting additional networking opportunities when the time for follow-up starts after the call. If your staff is small, use your own staff to act as attendees and use pre-planned questions to start of the interaction at your free exchange or question and answer time.
  3. Play upbeat music where people enter and leave the conference call.  Choose music and lyrics that reflect the conference theme.  This can also make for a good conversation starter among attendees. If your attendees know each other or have had some interaction with each other, allow for casual open conversation between participants before the teleconference starts.
  4. Have the phone registration line staffed by outgoing employees who have a great telephone presence.  This leaves an energetic and upbeat initial impression about the teleconference and enhances the anticipation for your event.

Dec
08
2007
Web or Video Conference: How to Know Which One You Want Maranda Gibson

Sometimes you need to get your team or group together for a meeting, but it is just impossible for everyone to get together in the same place at the same time. Because it is important to have everyone seeing the same thing at the same time, a teleconference just does not seem like the best vehicle for interaction. What do you do?

Well, pretty much, you have two choices: web conferencing or video conferencing. How do you know which one would be best? It can be confusing. There is overlap in capability because web conferencing can include video and you can share documents via video conferencing.

To decide, which one is best for you and your meeting, you have to ask two things: "What do I, and everyone else, need to see?" and "What is being emphasized, the content of a presentation or interactions between people?"

If the answer is "the presentation and its content", then you should be thinking "web conference". If you want, you could arrange a small pop-up window on the screen with a video of the speaker just to add a personal touch. If the answer is "personal interaction", then video conferencing is your communications vehicle of choice.

Web conferences are very good if you are making product demonstrations, analyzing reports/data or doing software training. Video conferences are better for board meetings, negotiations, interviews, or depositions.

Of the two, because video conferencing requires more technology and infrastructure, it is the more expensive option.

Dec
04
2007
There Are Times When a Phone Call is Better than Email Maranda Gibson

Sometimes it is not a good idea to email a message, it is better to pick up the phone and chat.

We've all received an email message that we simply wished we wouldn't have gotten, one where we've been chewed out or chastised for something whether we deserved it or not. In some cases the criticism that has been sent in the email message would have been received in a much more constructive manner if instead it would have been given by phone.

Here's when it is best to pick up the phone and chat and not to email:

  1. If you have to discipline and employee, although email is faster and you have a written documentation of the situation, a verbal conversation is much better. A written confirmation of the call can be sent by email after the conversation.
  2. If you have a difficulty with a client, a long winded response by email should definitely be replaced by a quick phone call to clear up the gray areas. In most cases prompt action in a misunderstanding with a client will resolve a problem quickly before it grows into a huge difficulty or nasty misunderstanding.
  3. Training issues are best done by phone or even better via web conferencing. You have a much better chance of having an employee understand the directions if they see you perform the action once online while they watch. To send long instructions via email can cause some employees to scan the information and not to follow the instructions step by step as they do not understand the importance. Once you have verbally explained the instructions revisions or repairs may be minor or non-existent. 

You probably have others that you can add to this list as well, but the key is to understand that although we all lean heavily on email as a major form of business communication that sometimes teleconferencing is by far better than email.

Dec
03
2007
Business Travel and the Holidays Maranda Gibson

Now that Thanksgiving is over, we have a bit of a break before Christmas and New Year's at least for personal travel, but business travel continues as usual. This time of year however, is the bane for the business traveler with longer lines to check in at the airport, huge queues to get through airline security and capricious weather forecasts.  Not only is traffic in the airport heavier and especially as we approach Christmas, but with fuel prices rising the airline fuel surcharge is adding to the cost of tickets to every location.

Consider one business traveler I know who is going to Manchester, England for a two day training class.  The fare was $1600 plus a $300 fuel surcharge and this was for regular coach class. It was 250,000 frequent flyer miles to upgrade to business class.

December is looking like a super month to try out conference calling due to the chaos at the airports and escalating travel charges. Additionally employees want to stay close to home during the December holiday period. Many families and friends have get togethers, church events, parties, and celebrations nearly every weekend before Christmas. And of course there's the time needed for shopping for gifts!

Give your employees the gift that they will love most this December - staying home with their families by using conference calling!

Nov
30
2007
Use a Teleconference to Get the Word Out Maranda Gibson

A teleconference is a great way for associations and nonprofits to get the word out to members across the country.

Think of topics that could merit a teleconference rather than a letter or e-mail. What do you get the most mail about? What do your members keep asking about? Are you launching a new initiative? Find something that will pique their interest and set up a teleconference on that subject.

There comes a time when you have to go beyond FAQs. A teleconference will allow membership in various places to connect with someone at headquarters. You cannot underestimate the value of such an interaction. You get to speak on something that they need to know and you don’t have to hope that every read the memo. Fielding questions from members lets you know what is on their minds and this could yield topics for future teleconferences.

Nov
29
2007
Quick Software Tricks that Help You Create Brochures, Business Cards and Even Barcodes. Maranda Gibson

Chances are you haven't explored the full breadth of your software capabilities. Microsoft Word and desktop publishing software like Publisher, InDesign, and Pagemaker all have built-in templates for everything from business cards to brochures. PowerPoint, a great tool for presentations and teleconferences, also has stored templates, and allows you to import design elements and backgrounds.

Microsoft provides free, fun downloadable templates for parties, dinners, and holiday themes at office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/default.aspx

Here is a Microsoft link for a business plan template:
www.microsoft.com/mac/resources/templates.aspx?pid=templates

Here is a Microsoft link for great resumes:
office.microsoft.com/en-ca/templates/default.aspx

Another resource you can use is on Office Depot's online Business Center.
http://www.officedepot.com/promo.do?file=/guides/papertemplates/papertemplates_od.jsp

There you will even find templates for balloons, bumper stickers, index dividers, media, post cards, tent cards, binders, greeting cards, tickets, and tri-fold brochures. These are a great place to start, allowing you to customize the design with your stored logo.

Avery labels (www.avery.com) also provides printable templates and downloadable easy-to-use Design Pro software. You can access all sorts of clipart images. There is also a tool for curved text. There is easy photo editing software. And something that you rarely find without special software, the ability to serial numbering and create bar coding. There is also a feature that makes mail merge easy.

There is no time like the present to get started with these projects. Search online for templates before you begin. It will help guide you, ensure there are no key omissions, save you time, and ensure a professional looking piece.

Nov
29
2007
Sam Houston Maranda Gibson

World's tallest statue of an American hero -- Sam Houston

The 67-ft. tall (plus 10-ft. base) statue is named "A Tribute to Courage" and is located on I-45 just south of Huntsville, TX

Nov
27
2007
Conference Calling Fights Rising Hotel Costs Maranda Gibson

"… According to the Travel Industry Association, average domestic air fares actually dropped 1.3 percent in August compared with August 2006. But other factors, especially a 6.5% rise in average hotel rates, drove up overall travel costs by 2.4 percent for the month."
From the New York Times 10/2/07 "Conference Calling as Plan A, With Flying as a Backup"

Travel costs are rising and so are travel headaches. Not only do busy executives have to hassle with longer lines at airline checkins, long flight delays, and security check headaches, but add a 6.5% increase in the average cost of a hotel room. There just isn’t a better time for executives to be looking for a cost efficient alternative to travel for some business needs.

Conference Calling is just one of the solutions that top executives routinely implement as a cost saving measure to improve the bottom-line. With travel expenses up nearly 2.4% for September alone, the squeeze to find replacements to business travel is top priority for concerned business owners.

It used to be that the technology that drove conference Calling and Web conferencing was expensive, hard to use, and spotty in stability, but with new advances and new technology this has certainly changed. Conference Calling is a truly viable consideration in light of the overall increases in the cost of business travel.

Nov
26
2007
Use Video Conferencing to Build Consensus Maranda Gibson

Have you ever been away at a conference and heard a really dynamic speaker? Or have you had the opportunity to consult with someone on a business trip who really changed the way you saw your organization?

When you returned to the office you were probably enthused and excited about what you learned and did your best to pass it on to your colleagues. It is likely that some of them got it and some of them wanted to get it, but couldn't quite understand your excitement.
You may have walked away from a speech or workshop with a great understanding of the speaker's core content, but you may not be the best person to convey that message.

This is where teleconferencing comes into the picture. By using video conferencing technology, you can see to it that the message gets through loud and clear.

No more do you have to say:

"I really wish you could have been there."
"I tried to take really good notes."
"I tape recorded some of the sessions so you could listen to them."

With video conferencing you can have that great speaker interact with your entire department. That way, even staff that does not usually get to travel can still be informed. Your vision will be clearer once everyone has had the opportunity to benefit from meeting with the speaker as you did. It is easier to implement new ideas when everyone is on the same page.

Nov
20
2007
We Give Conference Calling "Star Power" Maranda Gibson

Conference calling gives you "Star Power". Well, maybe not the Britney Spears variety, but the power to use * key plus a command on your phone keypad to interact with your conference call attendees.

Here are a few "Star Power" commands to get you started:

  1. Use *1 to dial out of your conference call and then dial a new phone number to check with someone else on fact and figures. Your other parties will not hear this personal call.
  2. Use *2 to return to your conference call with a new participant. You can do this command after you have done *1. 
  3. Use *3 to return to your conference call in progress without a new participant. You may have needed to check a date with your secretary before you got back into the call use *3 to stop the call from using *1 initially.
  4. Use *2 anytime during a conference call to start conference call recording. To be compliant with law, all participants will hear a message that the call is now being recorded.

These are just a few of the * key commands that can enhance your conference call.  We have nine * key commands in all.  When you set up your account with us we’ll even send you a laminated wallet card for easy reference.

Our "Star Power" using the * key will really work to enhance your conference call and put you in control of your conference call with one or two easy keystrokes.

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