Still Flying People in for Interviews?
September 30, 2008 @ 06:00 AM | By Brian Trampler & Sara O'Rourke

Sept30videointerviewAfter last month’s blog, you should be ready to continue your video experience.  You know how to look great, save money, and be on the cutting edge.  So now that you’ve jumped in and love it, how else can you use video conferencing?

The video interview – HR’s saving grace.

You just got word that the travel budget has been slashed, or that the company wants to save on expenses, so flying that next prospect in for a face to face interview is out of the question.  But how else can you get a real sense of this potential new hire?  Here are a few suggestions for making the most of your video conference interview. 

If you are doing the interviewing

  • Remember some of the tips from last month on how to look great and sound great?  Keep those same things in mind while you do your interview. 
  • Look out for the same things you would in a face to face – clear speech and confidence in answers.
  • More importantly in video conferencing, make sure your candidate has good eye contact when responding to questions, and watch their posture as well.
  • Many people will be using video conferencing equipment for the first time. So you may want to ask about their experience with the technology. Did they take the time to learn a bit about it? 

If you are being interviewed

  • If you are the one being interviewed, remember that many of the video conferencing rules are similar to those you would follow in person.  Here are a few tips for you:
  • Remember some of the tips from last month on how to look great and sound great?  Keep those same things in mind while you do your interview. 
  • Most new video conference systems have 2 flat screens with one giving you a view of yourself and the other showing the other room – but don’t stare at yourself to see how you look!  Try not to look at  the screen or it will appear as though you are looking at yourself and not making eye contact.
  • Don’t fidget in your chair while listening; Body language is very “readable” via video conferencing.
  • Remember that even though the interviewer isn’t physically in the room, but they can see every expression - even that grimace on your face. 

If you have questions or suggestions about using video conferencing for interviews, let's talk about them in the comments section below!

Brian_2 Brian Trampler is the Sr. Product Manager of Strategic Video Solutions & the "Video Conferencing" blogger. Throughout his 10 years in the conferencing industry, he has successfully launched numerous web, streaming, and video services.  Prior to making the jump to conferencing, Brian was involved in gymnastics both as a competitor and coach.  If you’re lucky, you might also find Brian performing musical theatre throughout the Denver metro area.

Too Plugged In? Change How You’re Connected
September 23, 2008 @ 06:00 AM | By Cambria Vaccaro

Sept23toopluggedinEven with so many new forms of mobile communication emerging and becoming popular with workers, it can some times be harder to reach people.  You now have tools that “follow” you when you’re out of the office like SMS text, e-mail, BlackBerry, cell phone, fax, and even the old-fashioned Post-It Note.  But with so many ways to communicate it can actually be harder for you to get a simple message to the right device, at the right time, to actually get through to someone.

Unified Communications lets you choose which technologies your co-workers use to communicate with you.  For example, mobile executives can use new technology to ensure they get e-mail when they’re at the airport, launch a Web meeting when they’re working from home, or send an instant message during a conference call. UC is the big discussion in corporate IT departments.  Many people find that UC helps them become more productive and efficient.  Businesses are learning that it promotes information sharing, and can significantly speed up the decision-making process. 

Did You Know?

+ Nearly 60 percent of North American businesses provide cellular handsets and service, or reimburse their employees for wireless service, according to a recent Frost & Sullivan study.

+ Information workers receive 100 messages per day in up to 7 different places according to a survey by Harris Interactive.

Conferencing and Collaboration companies like InterCall play several distinct roles in the formation of a good Unified Communications and Collaboration strategy. (You know I can't help the plug, I am a PR girl after all!) 

The goal of any UC strategy should be to help your company get more done in a smarter fashion, while handling all of the pieces of the various technologies involved in UCC implementations.   We can do a UC evaluation, help with the implementation process and consult with your company to help you make the right decisions, at the right time about what technologies will make a difference in your UCC strategy.  It’s a great advantage to have a company that keeps an eye on the big picture for you and your employees. 

Key things to think about when finding the right partner to help you build a UC strategy:

+ Consultation - It's important to have a partner whose core training revolves around helping your company increase productivity by reducing human workflow latency due to communication inefficiencies...of course this has been our core focus for years. 

+ Implementation - Key strategic partnerships as well as core competencies in communications technologies allow your partner to take your UCC project from concept and evaluation to installation, integration, and adoption.

+ Management, Support and Service - Find a company whose reputation is built on their ability to manage scalable services and technologies for their customers, with the best support and service levels.  Whether your perfect UCC solution is entirely on-premise, hosted off-site, or a mix of solutions, you need a company that can balance your internal resources or provide a completely turn-key technology support and management program for you.

When you’re ready to get serious about Unified Communications, make sure you have a partner who can help you plan, test, execute and prove a positive return on investment.   At the end of the day, look for a company who has the deep knowledge and relatioships needed to fully integrate Microsoft, IBM and Cisco Unified Communication products into your current network, voice and collaboration systems.. 

If you have any questions about UC, talk to us about them in the comments below. If you’ve already implemented a UC strategy in your organization, let us know how you did it!

Cam_2Cambria Vaccaro is Director of Marketing, Corporate Communications and our “Industry News” blogger.  Cambria has been in the conferencing industry for nearly fifteen years, and has seen it evolve from a traditional video bridging service to include cool web features and remote communication services.  She is an avid runner, cook, wife and mother of two gorgeous girls.

5 Ways to Make your Sales People More Successful With Web Conferencing
September 16, 2008 @ 06:00 AM | By Dan Uhlmeyer

Sept16salessuccess_2Sure, I can talk about reducing travel expenses, increasing efficiency, going green… yada, yada, yada.  But at the end of the day, the viability of anything succeeding as a business tool comes down to the bottom line.  Is it going to save you money? Is it going to make you money?  With web conferencing, the answer to both of these questions is YES!

I was asked to write about 5 ways to make your sales people more successful with Web Conferencing.  But you know what?  I’m not in Sales, let alone Sales Management so I will not pretend to be in this post.  Instead, straight out of the realm of common sense – I will show you why it is silly not to adopt web conferencing as a manager in any field of work.

I’m going to make a hunch and assume these benefits can be applied not only to Sales Management, but other fields as well.

1. You can be in two, three, four etc… places at once - Technology has yet to give us the ability to physically exist and breathe in more than one location at once.  But, your sales reps can meet virtually with each of their prospective stakeholders at the same time even if those stakeholders are geographically dispersed.  In today’s marketplace, not everyone is in the same city let alone same building.  There is much debate on the effectiveness of live meetings compared to web-based virtual meetings but when it comes to efficiency, Web Conferencing wins hands down.  Why?  Because there isn’t a vehicle in the market that goes into autopilot while you work in your rolling office.  Some folks are able to talk and type on their mobile device, sift through paper docs and throw down a sandwich simultaneously – but, that’s not so safe my friends. 

2. Interactively reach more contacts in less time - Ok, how about 8 prospective meetings a day versus 3 or 4?  Eliminate the time it takes to drive from one site to another.  Back to back meetings are much easier when you are closing and starting a browser versus jumping on a congested highway to rush to your next appointment.  Again, I’m not in sales but I do know about “the law of averages.” 

3. Qualify and conduct “needs analysis” prior to meeting with them on site – When comparing a live meeting to a virtual web conference, I’m sure it’s much easier to get off a 20 minute web conference to say “well, that was a waste of time … they don’t need my product.”  Imagine if you had driven to that appointment – The drive alone is probably more than 20 minutes.  Web Conferencing provides a tool to determine or qualify the prospects that are worth a trip across town (or cross-country) and those which are not.

4. Your people have a solution for managing sales cycles – do your reps drive to a client’s site for each step of the sales cycle, including dropping off collateral to an administrative assistant?  Well, I hope that revenue is worth all of the time.   Don’t get me wrong. I understand that sometimes face to face meetings are required.  If for nothing else, we still need the human element of a good old fashioned hand shake.  But if you’re beyond that, get on a web conference to present the offering, distribute collateral (i.e. file transfer), follow up and negotiate the contract. 

5. Close business deals more quickly –  Like I mentioned earlier, we can talk about cost savings all day long – news flash, gas prices are high right now.  But seriously, if you just closed the biggest deal in the last 12 months – are folks really going to scrutinize your gas receipts? Well, maybe they will … Ugg.  But isn’t it really just about closing business and generating revenue more quickly and efficiently?  Dare I say, “Work smarter?” 

Next time you find yourself or a team member getting stuck in traffic, driving through a fast food restaurant or trying to lead a conference call from the office on four wheels, give web conferencing and perhaps this blog post a thought.  I’m sure the words will have a bit more meaning during those glamorous moments in time!  In the mean time, feel free to post a question below. Or, if you are a sales expert, let me know what I've left out here!

Dan_2 Dan Uhlmeyer is a Sr. Product Manager and the "Web Conferencing" blogger.  He has over eight years of product experience in Web Conferencing and currently manages InterCall Web Meeting, InterCall’s proprietary unified communications tool.  When not punching on the keyboard, you can find Dan enjoying time with his wife and two children or running a marathon.

Making all Learners Successful Online
September 9, 2008 @ 06:00 AM | By Nicole Scheel

Sept9learn One of the best compliments I can receive when conducting an online training is “It didn’t even feel like I was online.  It felt like I was in an actual classroom.”  Keeping learners engaged and interactive are two of the many ways to making learners successful during online learning.  Let me back up though and give you a snapshot into my department.      

Our training team consists of 24 trainers; half of them are dedicated to customer training and the other half to internal training.  On average, we offer almost 500 hours of training a week, of that 95% of it is offered online.  “Online” can mean different things to different people, in this context we mean that there is a trainer facilitating a “live” class using a combination of audio and web conferencing.  With that being said, facilitating in an online environment is like second nature to us.  I know however that it can be daunting to lead your first online class, so I’d like to offer a few suggestions on how to make learners successful during online learning.

Interaction – This is by far my number one recommendation for successful learning.  When you are in a classroom, you have the ability to see the learners and get a gauge of how they are doing through facial expressions, body language, etc.  When online, it is very easy for the learner to “check out” without you noticing.  They have a great deal of distractions readily available (email, web surfing, cell phones).  By keeping your training interactive, you will eliminate those distractions.  My recommendation is that you have your learners engaged in some sort of activity every 3 - 5 slides or every 5 minutes.  That leads me to my next tip…   

Use the Online Tools - Web conferencing products have become very sophisticated in the sense that almost anything you can do in a classroom can now be done online.  Web conferencing has grown leaps and bounds from its early days of just “presenting” a PowerPoint over the web.  Some of my favorite tools to use to ensure interaction are whiteboards, polling, breakout rooms and chat sessions.  In our Management Development Program (MDP) we will spend some time discussing a topic and then give groups a scenario that they need to solve.  We then use the breakout room feature, which allows them to go into their own teams audio and web conference without actually leaving the main conference.  As an instructor, I can then pop in and out of each of the groups to monitor their progress.  At the end of the allotted time, they all come back and share their findings.  Using a breakout room online is almost better than being in a classroom because the teams are not distracted by hearing the other groups chatter.

Rev Up the Energy – Training professionals by nature are energetic, however it’s so important for that to shine through during your online sessions.  Although the learners can’t see you, they can hear your energy and enthusiasm.  Smile when you are training, you can “hear” a smile through the phone.  Energy is contagious, so the more energetic you are the more your learners will be. 

Get to Know Your Learners – When you are in a classroom, it is easy to get to bond with your learners; during breaks you can share stories, there is chit chat while getting things ready, etc.  When presenting online I’ve found that I get right into “trainer” mode and start up my class right away.  Keep in mind that many of these people have never met each other or you before.  We generally start out each of our online sessions with a slide that asks for the learners name, title, location, time with the company and a fun fact about themselves.  As the trainer, I will start out to break the ice and then I use the participant list that can be found on most web conferencing products, and call on people to share their information.  Although it takes time away from your “class time” it’s an important activity. 

Call on Participants – My final tip is to make sure that you are calling on your participants.  You need to ensure that you’re actively getting them to participate.  Not only will this help them to pay attention more (who wants to be caught off guard by the trainer!) it will increase their retention of the material.  In turn, you should also make sure that they know to call on you for questions, comments and feedback.  Ask for their input on a regular basis.  You can ask them to use the chat or Q&A feature or just speak up over the phone. 

The moral of the story is to use the same tips and tricks you would use in the classroom, but modify them for an online environment.  I have many more tips for successful online learning, so if you’re having difficulty with it please post a comment below and I’ll make sure to respond.  I’d also love to hear some of your tips, so please post them below!

What is ‘streaming’ and why should I use it ?
September 2, 2008 @ 09:32 AM | By Guest Blogger

Please welcome our Guest Blogger, Cristina Lucas - Product Manager.

Aug26streaming Streaming services have been adding to the increasing web viewer adoption rates over the last few years. It provides a great opportunity to reach a wider audience, at a lower cost, with great success.

Streaming is a method of broadcasting your information via the web. For example, InterCall can take any audio files, video media or PowerPoint feed and provide that information to your attendees in a professional console, even linking in to live conference calls or video conferences to stream over the internet.

But, before we get into too many details, let’s stop for a minute and review some terminology. Webcast, webinar, streaming, web conferencing – what do they all mean? A lot of common phrases associated in the online world can be easily used in place of each other. Some common definitions to help us out are:

Webcast (ing) is the broadcasting of news, entertainment, etc., using the Internet, specifically the World Wide Web.

Webinar, short for Web-based seminar, is a presentation, lecture, workshop or seminar that is transmitted over the Web.

Streaming is a technique for transferring data so it can be processed as a steady and continuous stream. Streaming technologies are becoming increasingly important with the growth of the Internet because most users do not have fast enough access to download large multimedia files quickly. With streaming, the client browser can start displaying the data before the entire file has been transmitted.

Web conferencing is a meeting between two or more participants at different locations using computer networks and specialized software to transmit data.

We tend to use these terms and phrases interchangeably when discussing web communication tools. InterCall’s focus is to help you figure out what products will help your organization meet their goals and needs. There are a lot of potential uses for streaming. Some common uses for streaming are:

  • Announce corporate updates and initiatives
  • Launch new products
  • Comply with Reg FD for investor relations communications
  • Deliver information to customers or the press
  • Train employees and customers

If you have a message or information to distribute, streaming can be a great online tool to help achieve your goals simply and effectively. Streaming services also have the capability of being very feature rich. Things such as registration, lobby pages, Q&A consoles, and robust reporting features come with your event as a default. There are also advanced features that can help add impact to your message. Streaming can be set up to track campaign referrals, add additional hyperlinks, perform email domain blocking, support flash video files, add pay-per-view capabilities and incorporate attendee surveys. This is all in addition to being able to fully brand and customize your consoles and emails. Some other savvy tools to help engage your audience are available as well. While in a live stream environment, you can add polling questions with real-time answers – and then display the results to your audience. You can also push out URLs that you want your audience members to see or bookmark for future reference. And let’s not forget the ever-popular Q&A section – providing the ability for your audience members to submit questions as they have them – instead of waiting for a pre determined question period.

As much as the streaming tools and features can help you get your message out, we still recommend taking some time to work on your presentation skills. Check out Dan Uhlmeyer’s articles in our web conferencing section to get some tips on how to keep a web audience engaged - they are still great tips that can be used for streaming events as well. You may also consider having your stream archived. It’s a simple process that can be done at the same time you reserve your stream. The URL that you originally used for your live event stays the same, and future audience members can view the recording as if they were live participants. Another option is to get your stream turned into a podcast. This allows your on-the-go attendees to access and play the recorded stream when it’s convenient for them. If there are any quesitons out there about the best way to use streaming for your presentation, please list it in the comments and I'll get back to you!

Cristinalucas Cristina Lucas is a Product Manager based in Canada and has been with InterCall for seven years. She has been instrumental in the Canadian market’s success and is regionally known as the “product guru”. Cristina supports streaming services as well as the Canadian marketplace. She enjoys travelling, taking pictures and scrapbooking.

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