If you have set up a video conference to communicate with colleagues, clients, customers or students in another country, make sure you are not saying things you don't want to say.
You may be very fluent in another language or your fellow video conference participants may be very fluent in English—but, it is still possible for your message to be lost because of confusing body language. As you know, non-verbal communication trumps verbal every time. Of course people are listening to you, but they are also taking in your gestures and movements at the same time and these resonate much more than do your actual words. No need to be stiff or unnatural, just consider your movements as you speak.
It is easy to become impassioned while making your point and slip into a hand signal or gesture that is innocuous or innocent in one place, but offensive in another. It is likely that video conference participants will know that you made a gesture out of ignorance, but they will still feel its effect. They won't blame you, but you will still have left them unsettled and that is not what you want to do.
It is also possible to make a gesture that, while not offensive, could confuse those viewing the video conference because it means something different in their culture. Here are a few gestures to avoid:
- The thumbs up sign
- The OK sign (making a circle with your thumb and forefinger)
- Vigorously nodding the head
When your team is far flung across the nation or around the Globe, instant messaging applications can give you quick access. I like to have my team all use the same instant messaging application. We all can see when each other are online. The message can be as short at a sentence, but gets an instant answer.
Using instant messaging you can even multi task, assigning client follow-up to a team member while you are on the phone with the client. One rule that we've established is that anything that needs numbers or prices however, must be done by email so we all have an archive copy. The hardest thing that I have had to learn is to update my status when I am unavailable or walk away.
Team members don't even need to be out of the office to benefit from the increased productivity that instant messaging can provide. Many offices use instant messaging even though they could just yell out the door or over the top of a cubicle to get an answer. Instant messaging versus yelling your question is so much more professional and does not add to your office background noise. Think of instant messaging as your new instant information pipeline and productivity time saver.
Sometimes in the flurry to plan an event, such as a web conference, many details are left unattended. This can happen to any organization, whether it is their very first web conference or they hold such an event every week.
Take some time to think about all that is involved, make lists, and divide up tasks. Do what you have to so that you can be assured that things will run smoothly.
You have no control over attendees' schedules, but you can make sure that the timing is coordinated. If you have participants in different parts of the U.S. or different parts of the world, you need to be certain that everything is set for the right people at the right time.
It is quite possible to get into a tizzy about speakers, technology, topics and other matters, forgetting that time is of the essence.
Also, be certain to inform participants not only of the time, but also of the duration of the web conference. It is so easy to concentrate on getting the start time correct, that you omit to advise people of how long they are expected to attend. You want key people to be able to take part in the entire web conference, so give them advance notice to clear time on their schedules.
We've all received them, but are you sending them yourself? I am specifically talking about an email message signed by an executive but with a Yahoo.com, Hotmail.com or Gmail.com address in the signature.
When you have a website, you should really use the associated email addresses that contain your domain name. Not only does this market your brand - your site and you, but using your domain name in your email address is a silent salesman to drive traffic to your website for prospects, customers, and even clients. Once on your website they can learn more about your products and services. You would be absolutely amazed at how many times you will find email application notes as referrers in your website traffic logs.
Yes using some of these free email services is easy, but does not communicate the level of professionalism or the services that you may provide. If you feel that you really must use these generic email addresses, you may want to consider having your custom domain email forwarded to your catch all Yahoo.com, Hotmail.com or Gmail.com account.
When you are an entrepreneur, you have to take advantage of every edge, every avenue, and every free opportunity to promote your brand and your services. There is simply no better way to do this than to use your own domain name as your email account.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Conference Calling typically saves a business 30% of their current travel expenses when used. What will you do with your savings?
- Will you let the savings flow to your bottom-line making shareholders sing your praises as a farsighted manager?
- 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?
- Will you increase the bonuses to your sales staff, motivating them to even higher levels of performance?
- Will you buy yourself that red sports car you've been dreaming of?
- 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.