Teleconferences - You Can't Have Just One

Once you've tried holding a few audio conferences, you should consider doing more.

Your organization could sponsor an entire series of audio teleconferences. This is just one more way to improve your industry profile, communicate with clients and customers and spread the word about what you do.

Conference calls are great idea generators. So if you have one you are certain to get ideas for the next one and the one after that from the discussion. You will hear about or come up with new projects, initiatives, and resources after you've had the opportunity to get into dialogue with others in your industry. 

You can plan your series to go with a yearly calendar, academic calendar, or to follow some other pattern. You could schedule conferences on a quarterly basis or on some other plan that fits your industry. 

As the plan gains momentum, you'll find that more people want to get on board. At the start you will likely have to do a lot of publicity. It will be up to you to get those phone lines jumping and to find speakers, within or outside of your organization. Eventually you will be able to book industry experts who are seeking to join your conferences. 

The Business of Friendship

Conference calls are not just for work, you know. A basic telephone is, above all, a communication device. And there is no more important function of communication than that of keeping up with friends and loved ones. 

Why not schedule a teleconference with friends in far-flung parts of the country, or may even the world. Before you laugh or say it sounds ridiculous, think about it…you schedule business meetings and rehearsals and because you schedule them you make every effort to keep these appointments. So why not schedule time to talk and catch up with friends. Sure, you all have cell phones and perhaps after 9pm you can talk for free, but will you? 

It is hard to get a conversation going with multiple people on cell phones. Or if several of you try to talk using the speakerphone mode, it may not sound quite right. A provider of audio conference tools has the set-up to make your conference call with friends sound crisp and clear. 

Yes, it is saying something about the times in which we live when people consider setting up conference calls with friends. But the reality is that many of us are so busy that we just sit back, watch our friendships erode, and lament it all.  

If you have been e-mailing friends who are far away, it is time to step away from the computer. LOL cannot replace the sound of genuine laughter. Get a group of friends together and find a time to really talk. You'll feel a whole lot better. And you just may decide to conduct a little business after all: you can use conference calls to plan your next group vacation.

Getting the Word Out about Your Teleconferences

Get Your Message Out

To publicize a series of teleconferences, you have to get creative. Notice we said publicize, not advertise. Of course you can take out ads in trade publications and newspapers, but if your budget is limited, you may want to save those funds for another venture. 

Instead of taking out ads in publications, you can write letters to the editor when you see an article about a topic your teleconference will address. Of course you have to mention the teleconferences in the letter! But don't make it like a commercial. Make sure you concentrate on relevant commentary about the topic at hand and mention the teleconferences as just one way your organization keeps the public informed. 

Make sure that you talk about upcoming teleconferences every chance you get. When you meet people at conferences, happy hours and networking events, don't forget to tell them about what your organization is doing. This seems so simple, but you'd be surprised at just how often we all forget that word of mouth is the best way to advertise. Even if you meet someone and think that they are not in your industry, tell them about the teleconference anyway. They may know someone else who'd be interested.

What Should You Charge For Your Conference Call?

Certainly if you should charge or not for your conference call as well as how much you should charge is totally up to you. There are two different philosophies when it comes to charging. Some feel that they should offer conference calls free as a way to expose prospects to their services in a non-threatening way. Impressing potential clients with their business acumen or level of expertise in their field may work for you as an approach as well. This is certainly a very workable strategy as every one loves to get something for nothing. The other philosophy is that unless you charge a prospect will not assign value to your information.

When you don't charge for your conference call, you may unwittingly communicate that their attendance is not important to you. Attendance at your calls may suffer as the call appointment may be easy to blow off if there is a conflict or the day gets busy, because, you know it is free and there will most likely be another one.

Sometimes the best in between is to charge a modest amount and refund the fee against the first order or service contract. Whatever you choose, paid or non paid, you may want to test several options, check out your competition, and ask your own clients their opinions.

Put Your Email Signature to Work on Promoting Your Next Conference Call Event

How often have you gotten an email from a client where there was no signature other than their name and email address at the bottom? We all get these types of emails, but did you know that you can put your email signature to work for getting more attendees at your next teleconference?

Think of the space assigned to your email signature as free ad space. Make sure that you have not only your name, but your contact information as well as a link to your website and a link to the page that tells readers about your upcoming teleconference.

Below is just one example that you may want to consider when setting up your own signature.

Janie Smith
President
Image Coaching for Experts

Voice: 1-800-555-1212
Fax: 404-555-1212

Visit us on the Web at www.AccuConference.com
Sign up for our free teleconference on February 15th at 1:00 PST today!

Although these hyperlinks just go to our own website in this example if you linked to an informational page and sign up form for your upcoming teleconference you provide the instant opportunity to get more attendees at your next teleconference.

Make sure that if you decide to create a fancy signature including images that some email recipients will only receive the text and the image as an attachment. When it comes to email simpler is better, but make sure to use this free real estate to promote your own services.

Get a Headset for Your Next Conference Call

Don't you hate to be on speaker phone? Hear static and poor connection noise at a conference call? Put yourself in your listener's shoes and make sure that the technology that you use is helping to transfer your message with the minimum of distractions.

Headset

You may want to consider a headset for your next conference call. This allows you maximum freedom, yet keeps the microphone close to your mouth and minimizes external noise that participants may hear from your end when you use a regular telephone.

There are many great headsets that are available and comfortable to wear. Many headsets have noise cancelling features that filter external noise and keep your call crystal clear. In fact many new phones come with headset options. Plantronics makes a nice selection of moderately priced and premium priced headset/telephone combinations. It may be time for you to consider using a headset for your next conference call.

If you are web conferencing, a head set is imperative as you will want to keep your hands free for typing, accessing an application or just appearing great in the video cam not with a receiver glued to your ear.

Get More from Your Conference Call

Recording your conference call gives you more options to reach your customers. Make the most of your teleconference by making your recordings available for replay, or broadcast parts of them in a podcast.

When you allow replays of your conference calls, you get another opportunity to market your company and its services to interested parties. People who missed the teleconference or those who want to hear it again can call in anytime to access the replay. You can also use replay to get information about who your audience really is. Advertise the replay, then see who chooses to listen to it.

If you have a podcast available on your website, you can use it to gather e-mail address. You can also choose to include the conference call in an online podcast library, or make it available for a limited time only. If you make the download time sensitive, you add a sense of urgency that encourages people to listen in now rather than taking their time.

If you really want to gather information, you can add an optional survey after the podcast. Be sure the survey is brief though, because you don’t want to overwhelm your audience.

What Will You Do With Your Current Travel Savings?

Conference Calling typically saves a business 30% of their current travel expenses when used. What will you do with your savings?

  1. Will you let the savings flow to your bottom-line making shareholders sing your praises as a farsighted manager?
  2. Will you invest the money in laptops allowing your staff to telecommute from home two days a week keeping your workforce happy while being a good steward of the environment?
  3. Will you increase the bonuses to your sales staff, motivating them to even higher levels of performance?
  4. Will you buy yourself that red sports car you've been dreaming of?
  5. Will you reinvest the money in new technology for your office, enabling your entire staff to have webcams on their PCs for spontaneous video calls with clients?

The possibilities are endless! If you had been conference calling since January 2007, and normally would have spent, say, a meager $15,000 on travel expenses, you are estimated to have saved $4,500. Is this a sum too small to notice on your budget? If you're a mid-sized corporation, your travel expenses may be well over $50,000. A 30% savings here -- because you used conference calling -- translates into about $15,000! What could you possibly do with $15,000?

If you didn't teleconference in 2007, now's the time to plan ahead for 2008. You can start thinking about what you can buy yourself, your employees, or your company with the money you save on travel expenses in this upcoming year.

Planning is Key to a Great Teleconference

One reason to hold a teleconference is that all the key players cannot be present in one room. There are also times when not only the participants cannot gather, the planners can't always get together either!

Let's say you need to have a meeting of the minds with people in a faraway branch of your company. You may need to coordinate with people in that office to go over the agenda and goals for the meeting. You will likely be able to get all of this figured out through phone calls and e-mails, but it might be better for you to have a quick chat via teleconference to go over last minute details.

It's a cliché, but there often needs to be a meeting before the meeting. Since you have to get everything set for the teleconference anyway, why not get together with your fellow planners right beforehand? Using a Pre-Conference setting, meeting planners can discuss logistics right before a call and early arrivers will not be able to hear a thing because their lines will still be muted. Do a sound check, calm jitters, do all that you need to do right before the main conference starts.

You have the technology already in hand, why not set aside a little extra time to make sure things go smoothly?

To Dial-in or Not to Dial-in

Have you gotten on a conference call and the moderator hasn't dialed in yet? You called on time or maybe even a few minutes early, but you were waiting and waiting.  Hold music is soothing, but when you are a multi-tasking executive your time is valuable and it appears it is being wasted by someone else!

Think of a conference call as a face-to-face meeting and present yourself accordingly.  For all of your conference calls, I recommend that you, the moderator, call in at a minimum of five minutes early. This allows you to personally greet each participant as they arrive. It also gives you a chance to chat with the early attendees and break the ice.

If you are web conferencing and have your Webcam set up, don't use the few early minutes to apply makeup, comb your hair, or review your notes. Be smiling and ready to welcome each attendee with your eyes focused on the camera. Don't be caught off guard!

I also recommend that you check yourself in your webcam 10 minutes before your call starts to make sure you look the best you can.  Once you're ready, forget about the camera and just consider the camera lens as the eyes of your participants. There is something welcoming about dialing in and getting a personal greeting from the host or seeing a smiling face.

Remember many attendees to your call will phone in five minutes earlier than the scheduled time of the call, so be on five minutes before that and start your teleconference off right!