Believe it or not, nobody wants something for nothing. If you look at any kind of event or class, virtual or real, no matter how much interest people have in it, if you don't charge money people stay away in droves. Seems counter intuitive, but almost any kind of event where tickets or reservations are given out free-of-charge to potential attendees typically will have high no-show rates… on the order of 35% or more. In comparison, when people have to pay real money, even if it's a relatively modest amount, no-show rates drop to 5% or less.
Another thing that people understand is that "you get what you pay for", especially in business or any kind of competitive arena. People commonly mistakenly think that the cheaper you make something the more people will be able to afford it and therefore want to buy it. When you are talking about information transfer, this just does not apply. Believe it or not, in the information arena, your price tag tells people what you consider to be the value of the information you have to offer. Make sure that what you charge is commensurate with the importance of the information you are providing and/or with the credentials of who is presenting the information.
In terms of the latter, remember… you would not expect to pay $5 to hear management tips directly from the lips of General Colin Powell. If you saw that advertised, you'd think it was a scam. On the other hand, some people would pay $100's of dollars just to hear him speak even if the topic was about something they were only peripherally interested in, just to hear his perspective. So keep the credentials of who is making the presentation in mind when you set your price.
The amount of pollution in the atmosphere is increasing; there is no doubt about it. One way you can help reduce air pollution is to try and use less fossil fuel, limit your use of aerosols, as well as monitor your paper and energy consumption.
The air pollution caused by the use of fossil fuels like carbon, petroleum, and oil shale are impacting many of our metropolitan areas causing an increase in the incidence of asthma in children and adults alike. Many major metropolitan cities have adapted to these changes by requiring increasing amounts of ethanol in fuels as well as establishing an air quality index indicator. These air quality index indicators are broadcast on television, the radio, and featured prominently in the newspaper to encourage city residents to minimize travel, carpool, use mass transit, and even change the time when they fuel their car or mow their grass. Air quality in these metropolitan areas is impacted not only by the high amount of cars on the road but the time of year, heat index, and cloud cover.
Any significant decrease of travel in these times can be beneficial for children, asthmatics, seniors, and others who are pollution sensitive. By teleconferencing you lessen your own personal impact on your regions air pollution. You can help make a difference in the quality of the air in your own city if you make an effort to cut the amount of travel you absolutely have to make. One small step magnified by others making that same small step amounts to a significant step.
There are a lot of generic things to look for when making a decision on a conference call service provider, such as: Do they offer the right package of amenities for the type of call you want to conduct? Do they have a good reputation for customer service? Can they handle the number of calls you require? And, are they priced competitively in terms of the services you need?
Given all things being equal, people wanting to hold conference calls can now look at other things that give them additional value for their money when searching for just the right company to service all their conference calling needs.
Although I know of no one who decries the decrease in amount of time they have to spend on the road due to the convenience and cost-effectiveness of teleconferences, I do hear people bemoaning the loss of all those frequent flyer miles they used to be able to use to upgrade to first class or to get free tickets for other employees or family members.
AccuConference is one company that is doing something about this issue. When you use AccuConference as your conference calling service provider, you can receive American Airlines Miles that match mile for dollar what you spend.
So when you decide to teleconference, as opposed to jumping on an airplane, grabbing a taxi or rental car, staying in a hotel, having your meeting and then getting back home, you can still build up those free travel miles without ever having to set foot on an airplane, unless you really want to do so.
Free, downloadable videoconferencing programs from several online providers just simply don't provide the quality and reliability that businesses need to function in today's high tech environment. With these free applications, depending on the software, up to 6 people can join the conversation. However, the more people, the more the quality of the transmission deteriorates via audio delay. Using them can be fun for personal use, but they are not good matches for the workplace.
For businesses a loss of quality or lack of reliability when using a free teleconferencing or web conferencing application can be a real problem. This is why professional fully featured teleconferencing tools are the top choice for mainstream business use. Nothing turns a prospect off faster than setting un an online conference with a free application and then having your client have a difficulty using it; thereby losing precious selling and online “face time” that you need to clinch a deal.
Leave the free applications for grandma and grandpa to keep tabs on growing children, and family member to keep in touch, but use the professional teleconferencing and web conferencing tools for the business world where you just can't take a chance in making a poor first impression.
Not only does video conferencing open up a brave new world of possibilities of staying in touch with clients and prospects, but provides high tech resources using robust featured technology that improves your productivity, keeps track of meeting notes for you, and speeds your online meeting follow-ups.
So you've decided to host a webinar. What can you do to maximize enrollment and to make it an experience that your participants will want to repeat? First and foremost, be sure you research your hosting vendor carefully because not all are created equal. You want to look for someone who has a system that can work with a variety of operating systems, who is reliable, provides scalable service, and that is customer service oriented. Look for those that have application sharing, polling, and chat and recording features. These give you added flexibility in planning your event.
A second thing to seriously consider is using a meeting consultant. Good companies will provide this as part of their service. These consultants will help instruct you about best practices and will train you to carry out a successful webinar. Many times they will also be present during the event to help with anything that might come up.
Lastly, be sure the content of your webinar is top notch. You have to offer, and deliver, something that is more than just generally knowledge for a participant to get really fired up. Adding someone or a company that has broad name recognition can really boost your attendance. Whatever you do, keep the slides simple and leave plenty of white space so if people print them out, they have room to write in your words of wisdom.
There is a lot of talk these days about how people should be doing more conference calling to save money. We all know, however, that there are some things you just can't do or information you just can't get in a conference call that you can in a face-to-face meeting. Below are some considerations to think about when deciding on whether you really need a face-to-face or whether a conference call or videoconference will do.
- Consider the purpose of getting these people together and what you hope to achieve.
- Examine all your communication options and whether a conference call is the best way to get what you need to have a successful meeting. Maybe what needs to be done can just be done by email or in an email chat room? Ask yourself, does it really need a fully facilitated meeting? Does the meeting goal depend on observing body language or high levels of personal interaction, trust, and relationship building?
- How many people will be involved? Remember that if you have 12 people involved, each person only has, on average, 5 minutes to speak. Don't engage people if they are not going to participate.
- How highly dependent is the content on visual images that you need to walk your participants through. Will it be detrimental if they can't see what is going on?
- If you have a highly distributed group you are getting together, what will be the effect of different time zones on people being able to be there and alert. This is an increasingly more important consideration as more businesses go global.
Once you know the answers to these questions, you can then determine whether it is a plain vanilla teleconferencing that is needed, or a video conference, or a real face-to-face meeting.
Fifteen years ago video conferencing was in its infancy. Despite the semi static transmissions and multi-second delays in audio, it was still a great liberator that provided tremendous convenience and cost-containment for training, sales meetings, inter-office meetings, and more. Teleconferencing has since come into its own, and is so now so cost effective and easy to use that it has moved from workplace to family applications.
Long distance phone charges were a big hurdle for military families as recently as the mid 1990s when sailors were deployed at sea for 6 to 12 months. Security was a paramount concern. Batch transmissions of email messages were a ‘hot’ innovation before the Internet made secure transmissions possible.
Today most soldiers enjoy the benefits of regular communications with their families via phone and email. This lessens the separation anxiety. But it is still hard, especially for young children who don’t see their deployed mom or dad for six to 12 months at a time.
As an illustration of how far we’ve come, recently 50 soldiers from the 108th Air Refueling Wing departed McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey on September 15, 2007 with donated video conferencing equipment. This equipment enables them to chronicle their experiences and stay in touch with their families in high touch, high tech way. That really is the beauty of video capabilities. The old adage, a picture is worth a thousand words rings true today more than ever.
We hope that other businesses around the country will donate video equipment to local military units so they can visually keep in touch and feel that human connection.
Because distance learning and teleconferencing and videoconferencing are becoming so commonplace these days, and because people find it harder to foster the kinds of interactions they get when they are face-to-face, university researchers are looking into the dynamics of online interpersonal interactions in team working environments to see if they can understand what is going on and make the experience more effective.
Brian Hoyt an Ohio University professor studied how teams interact in the online environment and found out there are four distinct and progressive stages of interactions: socialization, presentation, interaction, and closure. In his study, he found out that the initial socialization stage was incredibly important and should never be skipped. What he also found out was that people running the online teams generally wanted to skip this stage and plunge right into the meeting content. This is a mistake!
It is crucial to have introductions, have people express their interest or expectations, and perhaps even participate in an icebreaker before beginning. This is not wasted time, as some might think. Hoyt and his colleagues found out that when the socialization stage was present, participants were more engaged and the chat and work sessions were more dynamic then when it was skipped.
So keep that in mind when trying to build a team from a dispersed group of people, err on the side of socialization, at least initially. Your team will be more productive and more energized if you let a little personality get through.