Technology is a wonderful thing. From the convenience of your own office, your small business can now conduct meetings with employees and clients around the nation and around the world.
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It's called teleconferencing and with a little help, you can be connected in no time.
For most people, the daunting part of teleconferencing is knowing how to set up the call. Let's face it - teleconferencing can be intimidating, especially for people who aren't technologically-minded. But don't let your lack of technological expertise stand in the way. A few, simple steps may be the only things standing between you and your first conference call.
Before the Call
In some ways, technology is the simplest aspect of a conference call. The tricky part can be coordinating the meeting time, a task that becomes more and more difficult with each additional participant.
Even after you've agreed on a meeting time, your job is just beginning. You still need to make sure everyone receives meeting materials in advance and understands how to make the connection. But first, you'll need to understand how the connection works.
It's possible that your phone system is already capable of handling conference calls. If so - great. But if not, you may need to research another option.
An attractive option (particularly for conference calls with a large number of participants) is to utilize the services of a company that facilitates teleconferencing such as FreeConference.com.
At a prearranged time, all of the meeting's participants call a number provided by the free conference call service and enter a common access code that the meeting convener provides in advance. It's painless, simple, and, amazingly, it's free!
During the Call
Conference calls present some special challenges for the meeting convener. If that's you, be aware that you'll be responsible for laying out the ground rules when the meeting begins. Don't assume that everyone is familiar with teleconferencing. Instead, politely ask the participants to identify themselves before speaking and avoid talking over other people. Some of the other things you'll be responsible for include maintaining order, clarifying who is speaking, and keeping track of time. Some people even keep a large digital clock next to the phone to help them keep the meeting on schedule.
After the Call
After the meeting has ended, the convener is responsible for distributing notes and minutes in a timely manner. With conference calls, you might also want to solicit feedback from the participants regarding the quality of their experience. How did the technology function? Was the connection clear? Was the meeting itself productive? Their answers are important because you can use them to make improvements the next time around.