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.
Conference calls are most commonly used by businesses, but they can also be used for social and entertainment purposes. This is sometimes referred to as a party line. Many of our clients use our conference call service to host mini family reunions or to connect with long-time friends. There are other companies who use our lines as a telephone dating service.
The term “party line” dates back to the early / mid 1900’s when multiple residences would share a phone line to save on expense. As a result, people could listen to their neighbor’s telephone calls! The comedic movie classic Pillow Talk, with Rock Hudson and Doris Day, is about a man and woman who share a party line, but they despise each other. Rock’s character decides to disguise his voice to romance her but when she discovers that she’s been tricked, she seeks payback.
Movie tangent aside… if you’re not able to see your family or friends this Memorial Day weekend, try hosting a conference call. And don’t worry, our call security is much better than it was in 1959 so you won’t have any Rock Hudson’s or Doris Day’s on the phone (though some of you might like that!)
Conference call etiquette…who needs it? You do! According to a survey conducted by Wainhouse Research, virtual meetings now outnumber in-person meetings. The study found that virtual meetings save time and money and improve productivity. It also mentioned that conference call technology is growing at a rate of 60% every year.
This is a growing technology so it is important that you understand basic conference call etiquette:
Here is a quick review
Video Conferences should be treated as in-person meetings and therefore you should dress accordingly. Avoid clothes with patterns (such as stripes or prints) because they can sometimes cause interference when the compressed video signal is distributed. You should speak clearly, look at the camera, and don’t leave the room unless you have to.
Audio conference calls have their own challenges. You should always introduce yourself when you speak so that other participants know who is talking. Avoid using a speakerphone and turn off (literally) background noise distractions.
Are your telephone conferences cutting out when you’re listening on your speaker phone? It’s a common occurrence with a simple solution.
Many conference call systems use a feature that mutes everyone to eliminate background noise. But if you or your office uses a speakerphone, then it’s also important to press the mute button. If you don’t, the conference call will intermittently cut-out.
Click here to find out why
Here are some tips for speakerphone users:
- Use the mute button on your speakerphone when you’re not talking
- Test your speakerphone to make sure the volume sounds right.
- Choose a quiet location. Shut door, turn of the cell phone etc.
- Speak directly into the mic
- Speak one person at a time
This is the only time that we’ll suggest commuting as an alternative to conference calling.
Check out the conference bike… it’s a great way to move your company forward.
It’s that time of year when gas prices start creeping up. Yesterday we had someone in our office pay $60 dollars to fill up their mid-size SUV. That’s high considering we’re located in Texas where gas prices are traditionally low.
So since we are in the business of saving people money, here are some helpful links:
You can also earn a $20 gas card for any conferencing referrals. And if you’re considering commute for a business meeting, remember that a tank of gas ($60) is the same as two, hour-long conference calls for five people
Bad presenters are like toned-def singers… they don’t know how bad they reallyare. So just in
case, here are some tips that will catapult you to becoming the next presentation guru (…or at least point you in the right direction)!
The 10 / 20 / 30 Rule – This stands for ten slides, twenty minutes, and thirty-point font. This is a formula you can implement as you develop and revise your next power point. Remember that the average person can only comprehend about ten different concepts in one sitting. Keep your presentation under twenty minutes to ensure that you leave enough time for Q & A and that you don’t bore listeners with too much information. Lastly, using 30 point font will force you to use fewer words and make your slides easier to understand. This tip comes from Guy Kawasaki (http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2005/12/the_102030_rule.html), who’s blog points us to this PowerPoint competition.
Six Words Per Slide – So why use fewer words? Seth Godin, best selling author and marketing consultant, suggests no more than six words on a slide, EVER (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2007/01/really_bad_powe.html ). He says that PowerPoint is meant to compliment you as the speaker and not become a replacement. Instead, he suggests using captivating images and catchy headers that will blend well with what you are saying. The fewer the words and the better the image, the more memorable it will be.
Cue-Cards & Handouts – If you limit the amount of words for each slide, then you should make yourself cue-cards to remember the details. You should also create a hand-out with important information on it for your listeners. We advise however that you don’t provide a hand-out until after the presentation or else people might leave early or become distracted by your notes.
- AccuConference Outlook Plug-in: Allows you to easily create a conference and send a calendar notice to your participants. Its free and is compatible with all conference call providers. http://www.accuconference.com/outlook/plugin/
- David Allen’s Productivity Plug-in: Lets you implement David Allen’s email productivity tips with the click of a button. http://gtdsupport.netcentrics.com/buy/
- Did-They-Read-It: Tells you if, when, where (geographically), and for how long your e-mails are read. (http://www.didtheyreadit.com/index.php?aff=2&affad=3
- Google Desktop Search: Search your emails (and files) quickly and easily. http://desktop.google.com/
- Spambayes: An effective anti-spam plugin. http://spambayes.sourceforge.net/windows.html
It’s relatively easy to hype up a one-time conference, but how do you keep your participants engaged for a weekly meeting? Try a weekly conference call contest!
For example, have your attendees share an innovative business idea. It could be a solution to a current problem, or a new idea to boost profit and sales. After everyone submits their idea, cast a vote and the winner will receive a gift card. In order to be eligible for the prize, the winner must attend next week’s meeting.
There are multiple ideas worth sharing. Submit your own weekly incentive to AccuConference and you can win a $25 restaurant gift card to Brinker Restaurants (www.brinker.com) Gift card can be redeemed at Chili’s, On-the-Boarder, and Macaroni Grill.
Did you know that as the moderator you can terminate a call with the touch of a button? Simply press * 9. This will ensure that you are not charged extra if your participants do not hang up their phones. Avoid paying for the “stragglers” who stay on the line to chat, and for the phones that are not hung-up properly.