Conference Call Contest

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.

Terminate your call: The * 9 Command

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.

"Turn off" the barking dog (and other distractions): The * 6 Command

 

Dogs can be very entertaining, but they can also be a nuisance especially when they are barking during a conference call! Believe it or not, it happens. Many professionals work from home where noisy distractions abound. So if you have not trained your dog to "mute" on command, then consider pressing *6 to mute the phone when you’re not talking. And if you need to put participants on hold, and you don’t want the "hold music" to interrupt the call, press *6.

We encourage all of our clients to use the *6 feature on a regular basis, whether at home or at the office. This will enhance the conferencing experience for everyone.

Keep your conference names organized!

Are you having troubles making sense of your monthly statement?

Instead of naming your conferences 1,2,3,4,5…. try using the following:

1.) Department – (i.e. Marketing, Accounting, Public Relations.)
2.) Individuals – (i.e. John Smith, Lisa Brown)
3.) Region / Location – (City, State, or Country)

There are two types of conferences to keep your organized: Active and One-Time Use.

Active conferences, which are used on a regular or semi-regular basis, can be named like this:
 
1.) Marketing – Weekly Review
2.) Accounting – Quarterly Update

One-Time Use Conference, often used for special speakers or events, can be named like this:

1.) David Byrd – How to maintain a salt-water aquarium
2.) Rob Anderson – The secrets of a car enthusiast.

You can use similar steps when creating customized participant codes.

Follow these suggestions and you will be able to track attendance, usage and expenditures easily. 

Be a Rock Star


Would a rock star begin a concert without testing his instruments and microphone? In the same way, take the time to do a sound and system check before you start your conference call. This includes testing your phone / headset and your computer if you are using our web-based features. It is best to have someone else assist you who can call into your test conference to make sure everything sounds right.

Conference Call Suggestions

These conference call suggestions might not apply to you, but they certainly affect you. Like a fly on a movie projector, even the littlest thing can cause an entire group to get distracted (or frustrated!) Conference Call Etiquette: 10 Tips

  • Keep multi-tasking to a minimum.
  • If you talk fast, try slowing down.
  • Speak clearly and exude energy. Your voice is the only thing you have to keep everyone’s attention.
  • Speak directly into the phone. If using a microphone remember that being too close will sound distorted and being too far away will sound quiet.
  • Call from a quiet location. Even printers and phones in the background can be distracting.
  • Use the mute button when you’re not talking or need to sneeze.
  • Avoid bad phones, bad headsets and speakerphones. (Speakerphones pick-up all sorts of background noise!)
  • Announce when you leave and return from the phone.
  • Avoid too much paper shuffling or typing.
  • And avoid gum, chips or any other food while on a conference call.

Suggestions for the Inevitable VoIP

As a teleconferencing company, we have many clients who use VoIP. Naturally we'd prefer that clients use a land-line, but we know it's inevitable. That being said, here are a few suggestions.

(This is not an endorsement… it's damage control.)

  1. Bandwidth – The key is high bandwidth. Avoid scheduling your meetings in the afternoon because that is when call volume is the highest. Overloaded networks reduce call quality and cause problems like echoing. Echoing effects teleconferencing because computers rely on dial tones to recognize your pass codes.
  2. Monitor Bandwidth – Just because you paid for the "super-duper-high-speed service" doesn't mean its performing how it should. Check your bandwidth regularly to make sure you're getting the service you paid for. Try these sites: http://myvoipspeed.visualware.com/or http://www.speedtest.net/ .
  3. Reliable Service: Your local power company and internet service provider (ISP) should be reliable. If your power goes out or your ISP shuts down then your phone will also.
  4. Expect More- VoIP is capable of offering land-line quality, so don't settle. Some business-grade VoIP services can use a variety of connection methods and do not rely on an ISP. For example, look for a VoIP provider that offers dedicated point-to-point T1 connections.
  5. Avoid Speaker Phone– The combination of VoIP and speaker phone is almost certain to compromise quality. Consider using a headset if you want to have your hands free.

And when you find that "perfect" VoIP provider, call and let-t-tt-t-t us know.  To read more about VoIP click here for a great article.

Mastering a Successful Conference Call

Is there an art to holding a successful conference call? Some may say no, but in all actuality, there is. The art comes in planning. The moderator must fine-tune each detail of the conference, from the agenda, the email invitations and to the scheduling details. A successful conference call takes a knowledgeable organizer who has provided all the participants with the correct conference information, including the date and time and deciphering the time zones. The moderator needs to know the features available to him through his conferencing provider. Is recording available? If so, how do I initiate it? Can I see who is on my conference call? What about a live question & answer session? How can I facilitate one? Most conferencing providers have a customer support center which can answer all those important questions. Take advantage of all the features. This will enhance your conferencing experience.
 
On the day of the conference call, make sure you are prepared in advance with the telephone set up. If using a conference phone make sure it is tweaked to capture all the speakers and will not cut out voices. Individual phone lines are recommended above a conference room speaker phone. Encourage your participants to also dial from land lines and not cell phones.

As the moderator, call into the conference at least 10 minutes before the call is to being. Welcome your participants and let them know you will begin shortly. If you are having more than 10 people on your conference call, consider using Lecture Mode to mute all the participant lines. This will ensure a very professional atmosphere to deliver your message. The Q&A can be done very concisely and accurately when the call is in Lecture Mode.

By following these conferencing ideas, you will create a memorable event.

 

Echo in a Conference Call

During a conference call, there is generally nothing worse than hearing echo being introduced into a call.  Participants will hear what sounds like good quality audio, but twice (or more) as a result of this.  Conference call hardware generally has two classes of equipment: those with "echo cancellation" or without.  The quality of the call can be significantly degraded on systems without the echo cancellation.

AccuConference uses state of the art DSP technology (Digital Signal Processors) that employ an echo cancellation algorithm.  The result is that echo is significantly reduced during a conference call.  There are always things that will introduce echo no matter what, such as putting a phone in the same room as another phone in the conference call.  Telephone microphones are very sensitive and even the slightest sound can be picked up and echoed to the other phone and amplified.  Cellular phones are notorious for this, as there is an inherent delay introduced with a wireless network.  As a result, AccuConference recommends never having two participants in the same room, unless both are muted.  The result is that the quality of the call will be the highest possible.

 

Number of Participants

AccuConference provides superior technology that virtually eliminates the problems associated with bridging large numbers of participants onto a single call. Our bridges regularly handle calls up to 1000 participants, and have the capability of handling much more when necessary. As a result, customers can rest assured that the quality of the call will not be affected by adding more callers to the conference. Each caller will hear the highest possible quality signal from the speaker, whether it is a 3 person conference, or a 300 person conference.

We highly recommend that customers utilize the *5 lecture mode for more than 10 participants on a conference. This allows the speakers and moderators to better control the people that speak into a call. Without it, a call could have any number of the problems listed above introduced, since the number of potential problems increases with the number of phones connected.

AccuConference also provides a unique feature known as “Live Queued Q&A”. This feature allows the participants on a large call to speak one-at-a-time into the conference. The moderator simply announces that the call is now open for questions and answers (Q&A) and instructs participants to press *1 to ask a question. Via the live web-based conference screen, a moderator can see who has asked a question, how many questions are remaining, and where the callers are calling from. To take a question, the moderator simply clicks on the “Take Next Question” link. The participant hears a message instructing them to “Please ask your question now.” They are then unmuted automatically, and allowed to speak into the conference. Once the question has been answered by the speakers, the “Take Next Question” link can be clicked again, muting the first question and allowing the next one to speak. This feature is very popular on large conferences, allowing individuals to participate in the call, without introducing noise or quality issues.