Do's and Don'ts For Participants At Your Next Conference Call

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

Telehealth – Health Care The Teleconferencing Way

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.

Video Conferencing to Settle Internet Disputes

People are participating in business projects and buying and selling goods and services with other people who are located all over the world by way of the internet. Shoppers can often find great deals. However, let's say the owner of a website located in Asia refuses to give you a refund and the thought of spending a substantial amount of money and time flying to Asia to settle the issue in court or with a mediator seems a little silly since the item cost you twenty-five dollars.

Perhaps in the future it will be common place for websites to offer mediation to settle disputes with customers by way of video conferencing. Now the idea of solving the problem for low cost items and services with far away companies is more realistic.

Mediation experts claim that utilizing video conferencing for disputes can provide more effective emotional communications than the telephone. Also, the participants are less likely to be intimidated by the physical presence of the other person.

In the future, instead of shoppers sending numerous intimidating or nasty emails to website owners perhaps a video conference meeting where each person realizes the other is an actual human being and not just a writer of emails will help resolve issues.

Measuring Productivity A Bit Differently These Days

Looking to improve productivity in your organization?

Check out a few of these recent news articles.

Reuters highlights a recent study on job flexibility as it relates to productivity and loyalty among employees.

"Researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, found that workers who enjoyed more work flexibility were also less likely to say health problems affected their performance at work. Offering a variety of alternative work arrangements and training managers and supervisors to be supportive of workers' personal lives may help in creating a culture of flexibility, researchers added."

In the UK, "a survey of 2,347 people, commissioned by employee wellbeing specialist Right Corecare, found that four in 10 respondents work extra hours in the office, with 21% pointing to their bosses' expectations as the main reason to do so."

The article reports, "A quarter of respondents admit to checking Facebook or surfing the net on company time, often after they have finished work, with 16% admitting they work late to be seen as hard working."

From Canada's Globe and Mail, a quick and helpful guide to picking and choosing productivity tools.

Productivity consultant Francis Wade writes, "With the flood of productivity tips and productivity tools assailing you, which ones should you choose? . . . [T]here are seven essential practices that we carry out as we do our work. Each tool should be assessed by whether it helps you to manage one or more of those steps better."

Use Carbon Reduction to Increase Your Business

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.

Carbon Footprint

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.

Anonymous

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.

Telecommuting = $4.5 billion in savings for America

AeA released a report stating "if everone with the potential to telework did so just 1.6 days per week", 1.35 billion gallons of fuel would be saved.

That's a big number.  In addition, this "would prevent 26 billion pounds of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere".

Another benefit is employee moral.  If your commute was 40 minutes each way, you would be saving almost an hour and a half.  Add to that the reduction of stress from driving/commuting.  That's a nice benefit.

Team-Building Ain't For the Faint of Heart

Team building is seen as an essential part of a successful company because it encourages employees to interact with each other and to solve problems. Many companies rely on these activities and exercises to remove barriers to communication and to improve efficiency. And yet some managers pooh-pooh team-building exercises as a waste of time. A Workforce Management article discusses team building in light of a recent court case.

And the Los Angeles Times discusses an exotic, albeit more expensive approach to team building.

But what can companies do to encourage team building on a smaller scale?

A recent book, 365 Low or No Cost Workplace Teambuilding Activities: Games and Exercises Designed to Build Trust & Encourage Teamwork Among Employees by John N. Peragine, highlights simple and easy team-building activities and exercises that can be adapted for use right now and for little to no cost.

The book includes step-by-step instructions and hints on what to do and what not to do. Whether you’re interested in eliminating stress and burn out with humor, helping your team get to know each other better, or attempting to establish a corporate identity, a book of team-building exercises might be what just you’re looking for.

However, if you’re looking for a more enjoyable type of team-building environment, skip water boarding or other forms of semi-torture and go for something laidback, like cooking.

Kgomotso Mathe writes in the Financial Mail about the growing trend overseas to stage team-building exercises in a common venue: a kitchen.

"The uShef Cooking School is gaining fame not only among corporates, but also food fundis wishing to sharpen their cooking skills. It is absolutely a place where good food and fun meet. It is owned by Gill Ostrowski, a qualified chef who has been in the hospitality industry for nearly 19 years. The place operates like a restaurant, except in this case you'll have to cook your own dinner."

Cooking with colleagues may sound daunting, but it actually provides a safe place for people to get to know each other and to chatter over tasks that aren’t stressful, but fun.

John Hollon of Work Management writes, "Team-building exercises [sometimes] are more about getting people to follow along blindly - to engage in groupthink - than they are in really getting people to work as a team. A better approach might be what [successful companies do], bringing people from all around the company together to get to know one another, swap ideas and break down barriers to collaboration."

Whatever activity you choose to enhance team building in your company make it fun and make it meaningful.