Online conferencing services are proliferating faster than ever. No matter where you turn, there is a new way to link up with associates and prospects. Some are simple and straightforward, while other services are more complicated. Needless to say, everyone wants you to use their “platform” to communicate.
Here are some of the top things you need to consider about business teleconferences:
1) The lowest common denominator works the best when it comes to conferencing. For internal use, it’s easy to have everyone use one system. But that’s where it stops. Trying to get outsiders to use whatever system your using can create more headaches than it’s worth. Not everyone has your particular program, nor do they want it. So while it might be nice to work on Skype, or Lync, or other programs, you may have quite a few people you may need to conference with who are not familiar with those programs. Moreover, they may not be interested in communicating over the Internet (VOIP) with their phone and/or computer speakers and microphone. Yes, there are plenty of advances, but the bottom line is that 90% of all conferences are still being conducted with old fashioned desk phones, or cell phones.
2) Video conferencing — looking at your conferees and guests face-to-face — is easy and not that expensive. However, do not assume your guests are interested in being on camera. You might not give it a second thought, but there are too many people who simply don’t like the way they look and are intimidated about broadcasting their image. It’s highly intrusive, too revealing, and not something you do if you’re having a bad hair day. Be sensitive to how others feel about it.
3) Providing a toll-free number for people to call into a conference is a simple courtesy. Despite the fact that “long distance” charges are quickly becoming a thing of the past, your guests will appreciate and respect your professionalism when it comes to giving them a toll-free number to call (prefix 800, 844, 855, 866, 877, 888). For internal company purposes, you can get a non-toll free number to use. In most of the cases, you’ll get both toll-free and toll numbers as part of the same conferencing service. For example, if you order toll-free service from us, you’ll get an 866 number and a regular toll number at the same. You can use either one to access the same conference bridge.
4) On that same note, here is a little tip you can use to enjoy conferencing while seeing substantial savings. Get a “flat rate” service that provides you unlimited usage for one low flat rate a month. For example, we offer 10 conference lines (10 people, including you, can call in and have a conference call) for $19 per month — a pretty good deal. Then, you can get a toll-free number that “rings to” your flat rate conference bridge. That gives you the best of both worlds. You can give out a toll free number to all your external guests, and you can use the regular toll number internally. Your conference calls can last for hours, but you still only pay $19 per month.
5) These days, and generally speaking, it’s much cheaper to retain a conference service rather get your own conference bridge equipment and hardware. And if you are going to get your own conference hardware, it’s probably better to lease or rent it than buying it. Conference bridge hardware can be costly to support, repair and maintain, and it becomes obsolete quickly. So you are much better off to outsource your conferencing to a professional company who will take care of all those headaches behind the scenes. You just want to have a conference call. You don’t want to get yourself into the conference call business.
6) “Can you hear me?” Quality control on a conference call is very important. The first thing you can do is to encourage everyone to call-in on an old fashioned desk phone and have them shut the door behind them. Cell phones are OK, but if there is a bad cell phone connection it will echo throughout the whole conference. If someone is in a noisy space, ask them to mute themselves (as long as they don’t have music on hold!) Fortunately, you’ll be able to monitor and control your conference call online, and that will provide you the controls you need to mute individual callers yourself, or mute everyone, except those who have called in on the host or moderator passcode. That’s called lecture mode, and yes, you can have more than one host.
For important conference calls, you should think about getting an operator managed conference (also known as operator staffed or assisted). It’s easy to set up. You give us the names and phone numbers of those you want in the conference call, and the time you want your conference to start, and we’ll have our professional operators call everyone and have them placed into the conference. The only thing you conference guests have to do is pick up the phone. Everything is automatic and you also have the option of having an operator stay on the call and help you manage questions and answers, etc. If it’s an investor call, you can also have operators intercept incoming conference calls to collect information — names of callers, organizations they represent, phone numbers, email addresses — whatever you need.
Overall, your conference experience can help you boost productivity, increase collaboration, and help everyone stay on the same page. Give us a call at 877-254-2424 and we can put all your options on the table and discuss with you the best way to achieve your particular conferencing objectives.