Toronto is having a moment.
Staying in touch with your coworkers, employees, and customers is increasingly difficult the larger your business becomes. But it is vital.
Being able to communicate with the right people is critical for your business to remain on track, whether that’s communicating externally to your customers or internally with your colleagues or partners.
But that’s where reality sets in – meetings can impede your flow of work and can tie up management in the cumbersome process of closing the distance to connect.
So, the question becomes – How can your business hold meetings thousands of miles apart without having all of your time monopolized by travelling to attend meetings?
The answer? Audio conferencing.
While Webster’s Dictionary defines audio conferencing as “a meeting that is conducted by the use of audio telecommunications” it can be very simply understood as being a phone call in which the main caller, also known as the moderator or host, can connect with more than one listener.
These ‘listeners’ are known in the conferencing world as attendees. Audio conferencing connects multiple people, in multiple locations around the world, on the line together.
While many people believe that making a conference call is difficult, the reality is making an audio conference call is EASY! As the moderator, all you have to do is provide your participants with the phone number to your audio conferencing “bridge” and a participant code.
Your participants will dial that number and put in their attendee code when instructed to do so. To join the call yourself, as the moderator, you will follow the same steps for calling into the bridge. The only difference will be you will have a different code (i.e. a moderator code) which will give you different permissions for actions you can take, like muting the line, recording the call, dialing out to add other participants, and to easily end the call.
The hard reality is that your busy employees are attending over 60 meetings a month. Most admit they cannot attend every meeting requested because of the time it takes to go to meetings – and that needs to change.
Think of the last time you attended an in-person meeting with someone in a different office. You either had to commute half way across the city, or worse yet, you had to fly to a totally different city! You wasted your time in line at an airport and had to rent a car and a hotel room.
A five person meeting conducted in-person is over seven times more expensive than a meeting conducted by audio conference, with an average in-person meeting costing more than 5,100.00 according to Verizon.
The monetary cost of in-person meetings isn’t the whole story, either: the impact that they can have on your employees costs your business as well. A recent study illustrated that nearly 70% of people who have to travel for business find that it negatively impacts their life, and 62% felt that they weren’t able to be effective at work because they were losing the ability to be productive.
When meeting with people, either in person or over the phone, it is important to be a good host. Make sure you establish a good format and plan to have everyone involved. The more organized your meeting is, and more you can have each attendee participate, the more productive your call will be.
Clearly outlining how the audio conference will proceed is the best way to make sure everyone comes to the call ready to contribute. Send all of your attendees all vital information well before the call, including the meeting agenda, the date of the call, and of course, the important meetings codes.
Another way to ensure you hold a great conference meeting over the phone is by guaranteeing that it starts on time. The best way to do this, is if you, the moderator, is early. Having sent all information, as detailed above, will help ensure that attendees have enough time to figure out how to join the call early enough so no one is scrambling or late – because we all know how distracting it can be when someone joins late!
And make sure you are constantly engaging the people on the call. It’s clear that not everyone will know everyone else in the room, so by constantly using attendees’ names, or asking, “Is this Sara?” when someone starts speaking, is a good way to make certain that everyone understands what’s going on. Put some of your attendees on the spot, “Did you have anything to add, Joe?” you can also keep your participants on their toes to make sure they don’t get distracted, or decide to check their emails while on your call.
Before the advent of social media and new-age technology, your business would thrive on face-to-face communication. And it makes sense. People find success by monitoring visual cues when meeting one-on-one. We rely heavily on eye contact and hand movements to understand how the other person in a meeting is feeling.
That, unfortunately, can be lost with audio conferencing, making it more difficult to have an interactive discussion on a call. Your job, as the moderator, is to find ways to overcome that difficulty.
To maximize the efficiency of your conference call, be sure that everyone on your line has had a chance to voice their thoughts and be heard. Eliminate the opportunity to be interrupted or spoken over. And with attendees not being able to see one another, find ways to express your gestures.
Using emphasis in your voice to express happiness or disappointment will make it easy for your attendees to understand your reaction. Being as descriptive and articulate as possible will also eliminate all need for visual cues!
First of all, you need your audio conference calls to be excellent quality. Your audio conference provider should allow you to execute calls without any static interfering with what’s being said. It’s important that the quality of your call is good enough so that you don’t need to repeat yourself or second guess what someone is saying. You should be able to hear attendees clearly and without any of your attendees being disconnected or dropped from your conference without warning.
Another important feature your service provider should provide you is superb support and customer service. While we have outlined above that holding a conference call can be pretty easy, it may be overwhelming the first few times you try it. You should be given incredible support through any problems, and they should help you get on your call without any worries.
The last really important feature your provider should offer with your conference calls is the ability to record a call. Let’s be honest – people get busy, sick, and sometimes even forget about meetings. If you, the moderator, is able to record the call, you can send out the recording to all of those who missed it. Give the recording to those who were there, too, so they can re-listen and get a clearer idea of what everyone was discussing on the call.
Now that you know a bit more about audio conferencing, you should be able to pick the provider that is right for your business. Good luck and happy conferencing!Recent Posts