Tips for a Smooth Meeting

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.

Attracting the Conference Call "No-Shows"

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.

International Conference CallTips

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.

Conference Calls and the Flu

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.

Dropping Dollar Puts the Kibosh on European Travel

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".

Tips for a Brainstorming Conference Call

Crumpled pieces of paper, some pastries and assortment of beverages along with exhausted and bored people are typically found at a company brainstorming session. With the arrival of conference call, brainstorming participants are now often sprinkled about the country. One advantage of an audio only conference is the timid participants won't be intimidated to stifle themselves by sneers or scowls by their confident cohorts. Here are six tips that can make a teleconference brainstorming session worthwhile:

  1. After you have introduced the subject allow everyone some time to think and write down their ideas before the conversation begins.
  2. Don't allow harsh comments while the ideas are being tossed around.
  3. Encourage participants to offer any idea, even if it's a bit outrageous; it could lead to inspiring someone to have a great idea.
  4. Continually vote on the ideas; eliminating the ideas that received a small percentage of the votes. Eventually the winning idea will emerge.
  5. Be on the lookout for hidden agendas. Some participants might have secretly agreed in advance to reject the ideas of specific members. They may have agreed in advance to praise a specific idea and stimulate others to jump on board.
  6. Bring in new people for the brainstorming project in order to add stimulation to the process.

Bring a Briefcase Full of Etiquette to the Conference Call

Attending a boardroom meeting requires certain etiquette. You wouldn't shove somebody's paperwork off the table to make room for your sales report. Conference calls also necessitate etiquette. Here are nine valuable conference call etiquette suggestions:

  1. Be on time. Don't disrupt the meeting. It's also a little rude to ask a punctual person to supply a review of what you missed.
  2. If the moderator of the conference call excludes you from the introductions; don't be shy, say hello and mention your name and your location.
  3. It's polite to acknowledge the contributions people are adding to the teleconference. "That's a great idea" or "Thanks for the information." It also makes the meeting seem more active.
  4. Disable the call-waiting feature on your phone.
  5. Don't interrupt while a participant is speaking.
  6. If you are on speakerphone all the little noises such as keyboard sounds, chairs squeaking and papers being shuffled are annoying to the participants.
  7. Don't hit the hold button. You don't want the group to be serenaded by unnecessary music or irritating beeps.
  8. Inform your co-workers regarding the timeframe of the teleconference so they won't enter your office making sarcastic comments about the Chief Financial Officer for everyone to hear.
  9. Don't use a cell phone; too much background noise.

Etiquette and conference calls go together.

Conference Call Limits

Should you limit the number of participants in your conference call? That depends on the purpose of the conference call. Perhaps you have never considered putting a limit on the number of participants in a teleconference because it seems like you would want as many participants as possible but then again you may want to consider a participant limit to be more effective.

Announcements

If the sole purpose of the teleconference is to announce something and give listeners information that you really want them to know (and tell others), then you should allow any and everyone to participate.  When you set up a teleconference as a way of publicizing new products and services, you may or may not want to limit the number of participants. On one hand, the more people you expose to your company and products, the better. On the other hand, you have to know that listeners will not feel special or singled-out.  

Dialogue

Conference calls that are set up as a dialogue might benefit from a limited number of participants. Publicizing this limit will may make the truly interested sign up quickly. If you want time for the speakers and participants to take an in-depth look at a topic, then a limit will give them the opportunity to do just that. A moderator will still be needed, but that person probably won't have to do as much as they would if you had a large number of people involved.

Making Money from Archived Teleconferences

We found an interesting educational site today. It mainly caters to governments and technology, but it is a clearinghouse for top-notch audio archives of niche-related teleconferences from 2007 and 2008. You can visit the Lorman Education Services site for the depth of selection and pricing.

What I found highly interesting was that the archived teleconferences were available for purchase some with price tags as high as several hundred dollars and available to buy as MP3 download or burned to a CD and mailed to you.

When you have a teleconference, don’t consider it a one time event. Take some time to archive it back on your website like Lorman has done, offer it free to prospects, or even offer it for sale on your website. You may find a brisk business in your “after-event” media that may surprise you.

Even if you don’t want to sell access to your previous teleconferences, an online archive that can be downloaded to portable media players or to computers will allow others to preview the quality of your teleconference events potentially raising attendance at your next teleconference event. Think about it the opportunities for your teleconference marketing are endless!

Conference Calling While Wearing a Jumpsuit

When you think of the type of people who utilize conference calling, businessmen in conservative suits with their ties properly positioned comes to mind. However, if Butler County sheriff Joe Gaddie gets his way, men and women wearing prison jumpsuits in the state of Kentucky will be participating in the world of conference calling.

Sheriff Gaddie wants to take advantage of the conference calling equipment which was installed three years ago in the courts in all 120 counties in Kentucky. It's an excellent way to prevent taxpayers from spending a lot of money transporting the prisoners back and forth to court and other destinations.

Here is why the local community may want to be concerned - the system has not been activated. This is a prime example of government agencies not understanding the huge cost saving benefits that conference calling can afford. Government officials in Kentucky and other states that are not taking advantage of the huge cost savings from using conference calling for court cases might change their minds by actually totaling up the cost for transportation and then deducting the cost to turn on their conference calling systems. Just the decrease in gas expenses and the overhead of the personnel costs of security staff needed to transport a prisoner to the court house may make county managers reconsider their uses of conference calling and actually look for ways to expand its use within the prison system.