Even though you can't see the people in your meeting with a teleconference doesn't mean that there aren't certain rules of etiquette that you should follow. In fact for teleconferences, meeting etiquette in certain areas is even more important than in a face-to-face situations.
Here are a few tips to help you to have the best teleconference possible:
- Make sure to send your agenda before the meeting so people may be properly prepared. You may want to send it out more than several hours ahead. Depending on the nature of the call, you may need to send your agenda several days to a week ahead of your planned call.
- Include your starting and expected ending time. Use Outlook to schedule your meetings electronically and ask for participation approval automatically. Let your participants clear their calendar to allocate you the time you need.
- Make sure you have communicated your expectations clearly to all participants. This will help to keep your meeting on-track and allow you to have metrics for which to measure your teleconference meeting success.
- If you have had previous problems with attendees putting your call on hold and sharing their canned hold music or promotional message with the group, consider discussing the issue privately with the party before your next call. If you cannot identify the person clearly, send with your agenda a gentle teleconference protocol reminder listing this item specifically to help your team get and stay on track.
- Keep your message short, concise, and closely follow your agenda. Doing so, will keep attendance high and keep participants focused.
- Follow-up in writing your plan of action and who has been tasked to perform which activities. Good follow-up assures that the plans you have discussed will be implemented and that team members can be accountable for specific tasks.
If you really want to keep track of your participants, use a registration page for all of your conference calls. Registration systems will record any data you want and store it for use later. Also, during a live call, you can see the data next to that caller - speaking directly to users and knowing who they are increases the personal touch of your call (not to mention it is impressive). Also, each participant receives their own unique code for the call - again, more personal.
After your live event, you have data on who registered, who attended the live call as well as who did not - great for follow-up. For paid services like teleclasses, this is a great way for tracking attendance and keeping control of who gets it. For required employee calls, the data will keep everyone accountable.
Best of all, it's free. Try it out!
We've all been in this situation, sitting in a "boring" teleconference, our mind starts to wander, we decide maybe we'll look at our email, and then out of the blue, the speaker asks your opinion!
Wow, talk about an embarrassing moment, how do you say you had been drifting? It's better to follow these few tips to keep your focus in a teleconference particularly when your mind starts to wander.
- Close your email program and your browser. You won't be tempted to multi-task if you don't have these applications open.
- Turn off your cell phone and PDA. Don't be tempted to lose your focus with these distractions to the call.
- Get a piece of paper out and make bulleted notes of the meeting.
- As you think of it, write down your questions on a specific topic or write down the name of the person and task that they have just been given.
- Write down the follow-up actions you will personally need to take and the dates to take them. Writing will help you to stay tuned-in and keep your mind actively involved in the teleconference as well as provide concrete follow-up for you to log into Outlook after the conference call.
Seth Godin talks about the The new standard for meetings and conferences. Energy prices are rising and the cost of travel is climbing higher with wait times, canceled flights and more.
Now that the technology has arrived to replace almost every aspect of the face-to-face meeting, isn't it time to rethink "Do I really have to travel?"
As Seth says, "I flew all the way here for this?"
Another place for savings (time, energy and money) is working from home. One of our previous posts mentions the enormous savings that could be realized if employees worked from home one day a week.
As a collaboration company, all we can say to Seth is, "Amen!"
Lecture mode has to be one of the best and most influential features modern conference calls have. How else can you easily manage a call with fifty, one hundred, a thousand, or more people breathing and coughing and opening bags of potato chips?
With lecture mode on, your participants - no matter how many - can rest at ease to concentrate on your message without worrying if they are contributing to the background noise of the call. You, the host, can rest easy too, as no one can accidentally un-mute themselves, or worse, never mute to begin with.
As a participant, there is one thing you are responsible for: be ready when it's your turn. In lecture mode, you can signal the moderator that you have a question by pressing star 1 on your telephone keypad and you get put into a queue. Occasionally it will take a while to get to you, but you should make sure to be ready. Once you signal, you could be un-muted at any time, so stay on your toes!
When cashflow is low, small businesses need to find ways to continue their marketing/sales efforts on a limited budget. This post at a SBA Loan Blog outlines two ways to continue marketing on a shoe-string budget.
A conference call is very much like a regular meeting in many ways, but it also differs tremendously. Here are a few do's and don'ts to help you be a better teleconference participant.
Do's for participants:
- Arrive early online or on the phone
- Clearly state your name when you log in or arrive
- Mute your phone to prevent background noise from disturbing others
- Stay focused, don't drift off mentally by doing your email while attending a teleconference you may miss something important
- Participate and ask questions when appropriate
Don'ts for participants:
- Don't put your phone on hold if you step away everyone may hear your hold music
- Don't eat while you are listening in, the smacking and chewing is considered rude behavior
- Don't talk to others while you are on a teleconference - unless you are sure your phone is muted
- Don't multi-task while you are on the call turn off your cell phone and PDA
- Don't interrupt the speaker, wait until the question and answer period unless your teleconference has a more give and take format. Remember to unmute your phone to ask your question
The state of Missouri is in the process of reviewing legislation to regulate the telehealth industry.
"Senator Tom Dempsey of St. Peters wants the state health department to establish guidelines for use of telehealth and for the doctors who will use it. Dempsey says the system is especially useful in rural areas where specialists might be a long distance from the patient."
Right now some health care insurance providers will not pay for telehealth consultations for diagnosis or treatment and Missouri Senator Top Dempsey wants to change that by introducing legislation that will allow for the regulation of telehealth in an effort to provide low cost health care alternatives to rural residents.
With the bill being stuck in the House of Representative for the last 11 days as of May 5, 2008, telehealth program plans may be stymied in Missouri until the House comes back into session and schedules a committee meeting on this very important topic that is sure to benefit Missouri residents.
It has been estimated that by utilizing a teleconference instead of taking a two day business trip and travel six hundred miles you will save two thousand dollars or more in total travel costs. You will also save approximately a half a ton of carbon.
Take advantage of the carbon reduction that you as well as your clients and potential customers will cause by teleconferencing. Let them know that you are making a financial contribution to an organization that is working to lower the amount of carbon that is released into the atmosphere. You will stand out from the crowd and a large number of potential clients will be pleased to know that part of their payment is going to a good cause. Most CEO's will tell you that contributing to notable causes is good for business.
Provide the name of the specific organization you will be contributing to and the percentage or the amount you will be providing. The information can be placed in your sales copy and on the pages of your website. Carbon reduction by way of teleconferencing can provide you new customers.
After your latest conference call, you want to go back and review who attended. You look at the caller ID of each call, but several show up as Anonymous. What do you do?
Listen to the name recording - as each participant joins the conference, they are asked to record their name. This recording is available anytime.
This is also great during a Q&A session. Instead of stating, "go ahead caller, what is your question", you can say "We have Tom Andergain on the line, what is your question". It really adds a personal touch to your calls.
If you want even more ways to track your attendees, use a registration page. More on that later.