Multiply and Diversify

How many times on the phone or face-to-face have you ever said, "Let me check with them and see what they say. I'll let you know."? If you're like most of us, you've probably said it a lot. Meetings, impromptu get-togethers, and random run-ins suffer the most from not having the right people at hand when you need them. On a conference call, you may still encounter this problem, but it becomes a very minor inconvenience.

Conference calls have a feature called "outdialing" that allows you to bring anyone you like into the conference. They don't have to have the conference call-in codes, or even the dial-in number. All they have to do is pick up the phone when you call.

Here's an example on using outdialing in a conference call. Let's say you are on the line with your CFO and VP of Operations and the discussion turns to cutting shipping costs. Questions that arise include, how many boxes are left over each shipment, are there enough different size choices, and how much would custom sizes cost? Normally, you would write down these questions and get back to everyone later when you knew the answers.

Remember you're on a conference call so things are different. First of all, you need answers about your box usage. You outdial your Shipping department manager and bring him into the call. He answers your two questions, as well as the three others that follow afterwards. With the manager still on the conference call, you outdial your box vendor. The vendor can give you different sizes – even the particular sizes that the Shipping manager speaks up with – and the costs satisfy your CFO, who also is able to get a bulk discount right then and there.

Normally – without conference calls or outdialing -- this example would take at least a hour to accomplish, but more probably a day and many back-and-forth calls. Discover the efficiency that outdialing can bring to your business. Next time your are on a phone call and need to "check something," hang up and get everyone involved into a conference call.

Now you have to figure out what to do with all the time you've just freed up.

Posted by George Page, Communication Specialist

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AccuConference | Web Conferencing

Webcasting in Government: The New Indispensable Tool

To give people living in New York more access to their government and governing processes, earlier this year, Eliot Spitzer, the Governor of New York issued an executive order requiring all state agencies, public authorities, boards, and departments to broadcast their meetings on the Internet by July. Although not on quite such a grand scale, many small municipalities are adopting webcasting as a way to reach out to those they serve by webcasting legislative meetings and making archived, key word searchable copies of them available on the Web so people can assess them at their leisure.

What some cities have found is this allows more community and media knowledge of what is going on and saves time and money by no longer having to have staff make and mail out CDs of the meetings for those who request them.

Communities that have initiated webcasting, like Hesperia, California have found that with their webcasting that fewer people are coming to meetings, but the number of people viewing the proceedings, both in the live webcast, as well as those archived has gone way up. It is easy to see why. If you have ever been to a county board meeting, wanting to hear or talk about one of the topics on the agenda, many times you have to sit through hours of discussion on other topics before the one of interest to you comes up. Provided the archived webcasts have key word search capabilities, a viewer can connect only to the part of the meeting or the topic they are interested in.

Webcasting of legislative or other government meetings are generating a lot of interest and use in rural communities and states where there is no universal cable TV coverage and where people have to travel long distances to see what their government is up to.

Building Relationships: The Power of Audio, Web and Videoconferencing

Nothing is more important than the relationships a company builds with its customers and partners. To foster these relationships, larger companies sometimes have annual conferences where people from across the country come together to meet each other, catch up on new company products and services, and learn new ways to use the company’s system. These usually cost quite a bit of money for both the company and the participants.

 Although nothing beats a good physical face-to-face conference, just in terms of time and money it is not something that can be done more than once every year or two. And, getting together with key clients and partners only once every year or two to fill them in on what’s going on is just not sufficient to build a real relationship.

What some companies have decided to do is to still offer the once-a-year physical meeting, but to augment them with quarterly web meetings that are similar to their large conferences, but smaller in scope (50 to 75 people) and that target different market niches and that use audio and video tools to provide interaction between parties.

Due to the more intimate nature of the web meetings over the physical get together, this becomes a venue to find out how clients are actually using the product and its features and get them to share what they are doing and what they are finding out about it. It also proves to be a great vehicle to brainstorm and troubleshoot with clients about products under development; and provides a great way to find out what the client’s priorities are for new products, allowing the meeting convener to better prioritize product enhancements or new product releases.

Scheduling Your Webinar: When is the Best Time?

Because webinars don't require people to go anywhere, there's a lot of flexibility in deciding when they can be scheduled. Most presenters have not adjusted to this brave new world of freedom or the kind of things they need to think about when scheduling their webinar. Sometimes the best time for a webinar is completely counter to when you think the best time for a face-to-face seminar should be held.

First, and this you would think is the most obvious, is to be sure you arrange your webinar so that it works with the time zone in which your attendees live.

Depending on whether you are looking for a national or international audience, you may need to think, about scheduling your webinar twice.

Believe it or not, industry surveys have found out that if you are targeting professionals, Mondays and Fridays generally have good attendance, not what you would think. But these are bad days if your target is the support staff.

Also summer months and holiday weeks, like the beginning of the week of Thanksgiving or the week between Christmas and New Year can work well, though scheduling can again depend on your target audience. For example if you are looking to attract express delivery people, anytime two months before Christmas is off limits.

Because other meetings usually begin and end on the hour, start your webinar at a quarter after the hour and end on the hour or an hour and a half later. This lets your attendees get back from their previous meeting and get ready and lets them finish your webinar before they have to get to their next meeting.

Try to avoid the lunch hour. The best times to consider are generally 10 A.M. and 2 P.M. because people are already at work, generally no matter how late their workday starts, and your webinar will be over before those who come in early have to go home.

Webinar Marketing II: Writing the Press Release

Not every press release is created equal, at least not in the eyes of a search engine. If you decide to market your webinar through a press release, knowing how search engines work is critical. Below are some tips to help your press release rise to the top of the list when some company executive or manager surfs the web to keep up with the newest thing in the field.

  1. Use keywords in the title: Remember no one will be using the word "webinar" in their news engine search. If your company is well known, they may be looking for news on that as well. Use something like "Spud Corp. Offers Webinar for Hazardous Waste Engineers Handling Toxic Organic Compounds".
  2. Repeatedly mention keywords in the first paragraph: The first paragraph is where search engine rubber meets the road. It where they decide what the press release is all about. Use as many alternative spellings as you can, just in case a searcher might use "computer" instead of "IT". Whatever you do, don't use any keyword more than five times because the search engine then begins to think this is commercial span as opposed to a real news item.
  3. Put a worded hotlink to your site in the first paragraph: Most business news readers only scan the first paragraph, so no matter how much you want to put down all the info and then put the contact link at the bottom of the page. Don't do it. Associate your link with some well worded prose in the first paragraph where it is more likely to be seen and in such a way that it does not look like "marketing".
  4. Put some keywords in your hotlink: Search engines actually read the words in your hotlink not only to determine how to rank your press release, but also see if your landing page (which should be the webinar registration page) should be listed on the search engine.

Webinar Marketing I: Getting the News Out

As technology has advanced, making on-line training and information exchange simpler and more interactive, and as businesses and users become more familiar with online distance learning technologies, the webinar marketplace has exploded. The webinar industry is expanding at a rate of 20-30% each year. What this means to you is that search engines that are already swamped with webinar offerings will soon be more than swamped.

Let's say your company wants to move into the training field, or some other information-provider-oriented area. Because the Internet can reach an international, as opposed to local, audience and everyone saves on time and travel, let's say webinars are being considered as the medium of choice. As we know, it's one thing to create a great webinar and another to reach the people who might want to take it, especially with the crowded, ever growing field of webinar providers.

Of course your company can always simply list the webinar on its website and hope someone randomly types in the right key words and goes down low enough on the list of links on their search page and then is intrigued enough by the byline to click on the link and decide it is just what they have been looking for.

It can cost big money to register for Google AdWords or some similar search engine pay-for-placement/click utility to shunt potential users to your company's webinar. But did you know you can get great visibility by sending out a press release through Business Wire, PR Newswire, or Market Wire? Releases to these news providers get picked up by search engine news sites like Google, MSN, and Yahoo News. And the cost is a generally very reasonable flat rate AND it stays visible to search engines for 21-28 days.

Every day, companies and executives surf these news sites using industry key words to find articles of interest and if you word your press release right, you could reach your intended audience more quickly (and cheaply) than you might guess.

Webinar, Webcast, Web Conferencing: What's the Difference?

There's lots of talk these days about web-this and web-that. So much so that, for many of us, it can all be very confusing. In today's world in business and communications, the Internet is by far the major growth medium. Two of the most important and widely used means of communicating a specific message or sharing fast breaking news with others are webinars, also known as web conferences, and webcasts. Although their names are similar, webinars, web conferences and webcasts are very different communication mediums, each suited for different audiences or messages.

Webcasts are where audio and/or video content is streamed to many people over the Internet. Webcasts only allow you to hear and/or see what is being transmitted. There is no way to interact with the people transmitting the content. A good example of a webcast is when a radio or TV station simulcast their show over the Internet. Today a lot of companies use webcasting to make presentations for stockholders or potential investors.

Web Conferencing is a fully interactive, live conference that is held over the Internet in real time. In a web conference people at their personal computer and log into a host site, which generally has a wide variety of different applications that can be used to display and share information as well as audio, video, and desktops. A meeting then takes place between the people logged on.

Webinars are a type of web conference. Although many times a webminar is a one way transmission of information, generally a slide show. from a presenter to an audience who are attending over their personal computer, it can be designed to have elements of interactivity. Generally, in addition to logging on with a computer, attendees also call in on their telephones like is done for a conference call. Via the telephone, the presenter discusses the information transmitted to everyone's computer screen and participants can ask questions in real time over their phone. Like web conferences, a webinar is live and has a specific starting and ending time.

Webinars, Webcasts, and Web Conferencing: Getting Your Info Out

One of the more common ways of supplying information to a large and distributed group of users is called a web conference or webinar for short. This is where people sit at their computer, which is connected to a host company through the Internet. The host then provides information via various audio visual formats. Even up to a few years ago, information generally traveled only one way. From the presented at the host company to the participants personal computers.

Today, webinars can be much more interactive and combined with teleconferencing with participants responding over their own telephones. They can include slide presentations, live video, or a whiteboard that allows annotations by the presenter and/or attendees, depending on the sophistication of the presentation and the capabilities of the host site. There can also be provisions for live text chatting, polls that let participants vote on issues, and sharing of documents or spreadsheets.

Webinars are generally billed one of two ways, as a fixed “cost per minute” or on a “per participant” basis. Either way, this is one of the least expensive means of presenting the same information, simultaneously, to a lot of people who are widely distributed. Webinars are becoming popular not only in the training field, but also in the financial and business sector in terms of reaching a broader spectrum of stockholders and investors.

Internet + Web Camera + Phone = Best Friends

It's official. Our favorite technologies have now become best friends. It didn't happen overnight… in fact they've been working at this for a long time; but now they are attached at the hip and changing the world - one office at a time.

You may have experienced this collaborative trio already by watching podcasts and blogs; but have you tried it yet?  

Find out what it's like to have friends you can count on.

>> Experience face-to-face at its finest

The Five Minute Rule

What I'm about to say probably won't surprise you… are you ready?

People arrive late for meetings.  

The other night we were monitoring our call volume and it peaked at 7:05pm. With the hundreds of meetings that occurred last night, the majority had late arrivals. Specifically, we found that 12.1% arrived early and 87.9% arrived within five minutes of the start time. This isn't bad considering they could have arrived a lot later.

Judging by these statistics we've all arrived late one time or another.
So what can we learn from this? The next time you start your meeting, begin on time but don't give out the "meat" of your presentation until five minutes later. And your participants continue to be tardy, have them read Penelope Trunk's blog titled 5 ways to stop being late.

You’re an expert, so think like one

By Andrew Clogg

I once had a basketball coach who said “This game is 10% skill and 90% mental.” Before each game he would have us close our eyes and imagine shooting, passing and scoring. He always emphasized the importance of maintaining our “game face and attitude.’

And it worked… at least, I think it did.

You’ve probably heard of the phrase “mind over matter.”  Below is my interpretation of this phrase and how it relates to conferencing:

Key Point: If you think you’re an expert, they will think so too.

When you start your presentation, speak with confidence and state the purpose of your presentation up-front. Share with your participants why you’re the person with all the answers. Remember that you’re the expert on the subject and that they are attending your conference to hear you speak. Keep this at the front of your mind and you will perform much better. And as a side note, never downplay your content. Even if you are running out of time an expert never “short changes” himself.

If you don’t think you’ve got what it takes, then check out this blog which says you can be an expert on anything. (warning… this is a parody!)