In a conference call, the words you use and how you use them affect both how you and your message are perceived. Basically, people take one of two approaches: the I-centered in which you exert control over the conversation from the start or the Group-centered which encourages open participation from the entire group. The approach you use depends on your goal.
Let's take a look at some of the statements you might use in each approach:
- My experience indicates that the plan is workable/impractical.
- I agree/disagree with that idea.
- I would argue that …
- I'm in favor of/opposed to …
- I'd like to review the (budget, timeline, analysis, etc.).
- I have several thoughts on how we can solve this problem.
- Is there more to this issue?
- Interesting … go on.
hat else do we need to discuss?
- What do you recommend?
- I wonder if we should consider the (budget, timeline, analysis, etc.).
- Say nothing. Silence often elicits expansion on a statement or provides a void that encourages another person to speak.
Your choice of approach will depend on the purpose of the teleconference and your goals. You may find it necessary or beneficial to use different approaches at different points in the conference. If you are leading the teleconference, you might begin with an I-centered statement that defines the objective and parameters of the call. You might then switch to group-centered statements to elicit ideas and discussion. Ending the call with I-centered statements that specify any results, conclusions or work assignments allows you to reestablish control of the proceedings. Be aware of and use the power of language to ensure that your teleconference achieves your desired goals.
If you are the main speaker for a conference call or web conference, you may want to practice before the day of the phone call or event. You can assure yourself that your audience will get the full impact of your message by taking the time to be well prepared. What you really shouldn’t do is try to conduct a conference call in an "off the cuff" fashion.
Prepare your notes ahead of time
Think about the main topic, what you want to say, and the length of the conference call as you compose your notes. Remember that people in other places will be listening, but not seeing you. They will likely be taking notes themselves, so you have to present your theme in a digestible fashion.
Practice going over your notes
Once you have your notes in good shape, it is time to practice saying them aloud. You cannot replicate what will happen during the call, but you can be familiar with what you want to say. You could tape record yourself reading through the notes and play it back to get an idea of how you might sound. Or you could ask a friend if you can could them and go over the notes. This person could ask you a few questions and give you feedback.
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!
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.
"… 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.
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:
- 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.
- Use *2 to return to your conference call with a new participant. You can do this command after you have done *1.
- 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.
- 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.
Conference calling knows no bounds when it comes to connected people and getting the job done. No matter what your field may be, there is a way to use teleconferencing to your advantage. There are so many ways to use technology to meet your needs.
Here is one surprising example: The Finger Lakes Wine Alliance recently held a tele-winetasting as a way to promote a certain kind of wine. You may wonder just how an organization can hold a conference call event to push a product such as wine, but is quite possible.
The wines were shipped to participants in advance. Participants were responsible for chilling the wines and having them on hand at the appointed time. Those involved included the wine producers, food writers, and a wine consultant. These are professionals who are very interested in the product, so they knew how to prepare themselves and the wine to ensure that the tele-winetasting went off without a hitch.
During the event the participants tasted wines and compared notes -all without having to leave their homes or offices. The Finger Lakes Wine Alliance was able to accomplish their goal of publicizing certain wines without having to arrange for key persons to travel and meet in one location.
You want to schedule a conference call, what is the best day and time to call? Most of this depends on your business and the time zone that you are calling, but there are a few common sense guidelines that will help you to choose the day that may work best for you.
Stay away from Monday morning. Monday morning is usually reserved for putting out fires from the weekend or for tasking staff members for the week. If you need to phone on Monday do it after 2:00 PM when most of the heavy work load is out of the way.
Stay away from Friday afternoon. Some people will leave early on Friday or are working a compressed week work schedule and are off every other Friday, so it is best to steer clear of this day. If you must phone on Friday, do it in the morning around 10:00; after the morning crush, but not so late as to interfere with the plans of the day.
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday may simply be best for your needs. If the teleconference is about tasking, Tuesday will be best so as to allow team members time to complete tasks for the week. If the teleconference is about accountability Thursday may be better as you will have more data from the week to review.
Wednesday is great for training, communications, reviews, and new directions or brainstorming sessions. People are in the swing of things on Wednesday and feeling more relaxed. They still have time to take on a new project before the end of the work week. Wednesday mornings seem to be better on this day than afternoons, but that may simply be from our experience.
Which ever day you choose, understand that the best day for you is most likely a personal choice driven by the needs of your business and your personal schedule. The best idea is at your first teleconference decide as a group the best day for your next call. You may find that the middle of the week will simply be the best for your team too.
This is not just a comment, but is a "truth". All teleconferencing service providers are not created equal. As you evaluate which teleconferencing provider you are considering using, take strongly into account your very first interaction with the firm. It has been said that first impressions are lasting impressions and in this case I think that you will agree they can also be indicative of the long term service commitment that will impact you as a customer with that firm.
As you evaluate your choices take a look at the website. Is it professional? Does it give you pricing and information or does it hide the prices and make them nearly impossible to find.
Call their 1-800 sales line, check out the experience. How long did you wait for someone to answer your call? Was the customer service representative courteous? Were they knowledgeable? Did they take time to fully answer your questions or did you feel like you were intruding on their other calls
We think that when you evaluate AccuConference you will not only find a website that is transparent in regards to pricing and services, but that your experience with our customer service representatives will leave a highly favorable impression with you. So we invite you to check us out, run us through our paces, and see why we are the friendliest, best service value, and best overall teleconferencing provider you can choose.
The National Investor Relations Institute has a lot of good advice on their website on earnings calls and webcasts and what you can and should not do. Their advice is something you should take to heart if you are thinking of initiating or fine tuning your present earnings conference calls.
In setting up any kind of earnings teleconference, the thing that should be first and foremost on your mind is how to get the word on your corporation out to as many interested parties as possible. Although there is no one way to do this, there are certainly best practices.
If you are planning to hold an earnings teleconference, the best thing is to issue a press release to one or more of the major Internet corporate news sites. Of course, you should also post the date in a position of prominence on your company’s website and if you have a news letter, mention it in that as well. Although you might want to email investors who have asked for information about the company, do not think this is a substitute for a news release.
Information should be provided on the date and time of the call and how it can be accessed. Be sure to contact a service provider, like us, who can simultaneously connect hundreds of callers to your teleconference for this type of meeting.
In terms of other information, if you are going to be presenting financial information in the presentation, be sure the material is posted somewhere on your website or included in the webcast which should be archived on the website as well.