Learning to Avoid Snarky Emoticons
November 30, 2010 @ 12:53 PM | By Support Squad

Have you ever had one of those days when you feel that no matter what you say, others around you take the information and either use it incorrectly, don’t know how to use it or even find something in your words offensive when they’re meant otherwise?  

Communication can be difficult in the age of texts over phone calls or instant messages over face-to face-discussion, and often the words that are received end up processed in an entirely different tone or meaning than what the sender intended.

I encountered this recently when attempting to instant message my rather moody friend, Sara, who sought advice on how to best join her Microsoft Office Live Meeting 2007 session while using a Mozilla Firefox browser.  When Sara reported an error, I quickly chatted that the cause would likely be a communication issue.  Sara took this the wrong way, thinking I’d indicated she was a poor communicator. Within seconds, I received a special instant message emoticon in the shape of a head sticking its tongue out at me.

Realizing that while we had been chatting in the same language, the intent of the communication had been lost, I forwarded Sara this link: http://intercall.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/637/session/L3NpZC9HbUR2X2tnaw%3D%3D. It explains how to allow the Firefox browser to recognize the file type needed to initiate the Live Meeting console.

Her challenges with joining were soon behind both of us, and I hope to avoid getting any more snarky emoticons sent my way.  In the end, I had attempted to express one thing to Sara, but much like she found with her browser failing to parse the same information that another version might immediately accept, she’d failed to take my meaning. Luckily, I was able to correct both situations through the InterCall Knowledge Base, which provided clear, concise instructions for the problem at hand.

Jake Bendrick is a web operations manager at InterCall

Is It Live or Is It Memorex?
November 24, 2010 @ 09:45 AM | By Sarah Murphy

Remember those Memorex commercials? They promoted recording quality so good that you couldn’t tell if the person was speaking to you live or from a recording. Well we all know the fate of VHS tapes, but a conversation I had this past weekend made me think of that famous Memorex tag line.

During the cocktail hour at a wedding, a fellow guest was asking me all the common get-to-know-you questions as I was trapped in the long line for the open bar. When I mentioned the company I work for and what business we are in, he proceed to explain to me the feature he loves the most about the web conferencing his company uses....recording and archiving.

As a senior attorney who mentors a group of new attorneys, he said he will use his web conferencing account to record a message to his group. This allows him to be more efficient with his time and combats scheduling nightmares.

Just like it was a “live” meeting, he simply starts a meeting, without any participants, and shows and shares documents and web sites he references in his message. The system records and synchronizes his audio and web all together in one archive. Once the archive is completed, he simply sends out the link to his team via email asking them to view it in time for the next staff meeting, the one opportunity they can meet as a group.

If you find yourself in a time crunch and need this type of communication solution, here are some points to consider. Many web conferencing providers will offer recording and archive options, but that’s where it stops. You will find out it’s not as easy as you thought when you start to ask:

  • Once I receive the archive, what do I do with it?
  • What do I do with a file so large my email won’t let me send it out?
  • Do I have the in-house support to host the archives on my own network?
  • Do viewers need to download any special software to listen to the archive?
  • How do I know if someone has watched the archive?

You want to look for a solution that provides you with quality recordings that can be easily distributed and provide simple playback, just like a “live” meeting. The best solutions allow you to record both audio and web portions of your meeting with a simple click of your mouse—no complicated instructions.

Look for a solution that provides you a choice of format the archive will be produced in: hosted on secured servers or available to download it in zip format. By having a choice, you can decide which option best meets your needs and support capabilities. And more importantly, check to make sure there are no confusing instructions or software download requirements for participants to view your archive.

Lastly, like the attorney mentioned above, you will want to know who watched and when. Make sure that type of information capture is available with your solution so when you do meet live, you know everyone is well informed and time can be spent discussing new business.

Sarah MurphySarah Murphy is an associate marketing manager at InterCall. With over ten years of experience in the conferencing industry, Sarah has worked with customers and products that cover all segments of conferencing, including traditional operator attended services, video and online meeting solutions.

The Trend in Conferencing? Unified Communications
November 23, 2010 @ 07:46 AM | By Dan Carroll

On October 10, I traveled to Boston for the annual CSP Summit hosted by Wainhouse Research, the premier research consulting firm in the conferencing and collaboration space. It was a great day, as we had the opportunity to get a more in depth look at the industry as well as network with our colleagues from all over the world. The New England Clam Chowder was pretty good, too.

I thought the most interesting part of the conference was the discussion around the emergence of Unified Communications (UC). The transformation of the conferencing and collaboration industry to UC is already on its way and is expected to really make strides within the next 5-10 years. While UC lacks a firm definition in terms of the products and services offered within any given model, the one thing that remains constant is the ability for all of your day-to-day business communications to be integrated and work together. It really allows for companies to work and act smarter, which is something that every good organization strives for.

One final note. Most people probably attribute InterCall with conferencing, but the reality is we’ve been offering messaging, streaming, managed services and other UC services for years giving us a head start on the rest of the industry. It’s important we continue to communicate this to our customers.

Danc Daniel Carroll, is an associate marketing manager and the company's resident competitive intel and market trends research guru. He earned a BBA in marketing at Temple University. In his spare time he likes to swim, rollerblade and sample fine Italian cuisine.

The New Business Toolkit
November 19, 2010 @ 02:24 PM | By Sarah Murphy

On October 28, Verizon started selling the iPad, which got me thinking about the tablet becoming part of the new business toolkit. More and more we hear about companies that are replacing laptops with tablets for their mobile workforce. And while the workforce is on the go and able to be more mobile than ever, there will always be online meetings to attend.

Traditionally when we think of online meetings or web conferences, the term brings up thoughts about using solutions and applications created for the PC environment. But now that the tablet is on the rise, consider the new world of opportunities that has been introduced for meeting while “on the go.”

Online web meeting solutions more and more are providing features compatible with tablets which allow for online meetings to be conducted without the need for the traditional PC environment. Some solutions do not require buying or downloading an application, making it a simple click-to-meet solution.

With the tablet, meeting participants are no longer chained to their desks for an Internet connection or maneuvering for the lone electric socket in the café or airport lounge to power up their laptop in order to join online meetings.

So as your business toolkit changes, is your online meeting solution compatible with tablet technologies?

Sarah MurphySarah Murphy is an associate marketing manager at InterCall. With over ten years of experience in the conferencing industry, Sarah has worked with customers and products that cover all segments of conferencing, including traditional operator attended services, video and online meeting solutions.

The New Airline Seating: Sky Rider and Convertible Class
November 19, 2010 @ 05:42 AM | By Marty Dunne

The airline industry introduced a fabulous new seating arrangement today...the ‘Sky Rider'. Instead of sitting in a seat on the plane, you sit/stand straight up, like a cowboy, in a ‘saddle'. Dominique Menoud, the spokesperson said, “Cowboys ride eight hours a day on their horses and still feel comfortable in the saddle.” Instead of seats being 32 inches away from the guy behind you, he’s now in his saddle breathing down your back 23 inches away.

Boy, that sounds like a fun plane ride.

I’ve got an idea for the industry to save even more space and cram more people on a flight. Let’s skip carry-on luggage altogether. God only knows how many people you could shove in those overhead racks. There's more than enough room in there for people.

Ok, you can probably sense the sarcasm, but there's no denying the airline industry, in the quest for higher margins and preferred revenue outcomes, has resorted to extra fees and increased inconveniences for the airline traveler. Today, I am flabbergasted with the business world’s willingness to accept these conditions when alternatives exist for communication tools and meeting with people.

When technology like telepresence, video conferencing or easy-to-use webcams exist today for business people, I am surprised that their adoption has not been more explosive. There are hours of time-wasting, brain-numbing airport meandering that most travelers experience at some point during every trip. Perhaps I am alone in thinking that the inconveniences of airline travel are enough to get business travelers to attempt using technology for their meetings more regularly. But, who knows? Perhaps the airline industry is thinking of another exciting opportunity for business travel, like ‘Convertible Class’ seating? There’s gotta be a way you could strap a bunch of people on the wings.

What's your worst airplane-crunching, seat-in-the-knees, no-overhead-space story?

MartyMarty Dunne is executive vice president of sales for InterCall. His commitment to working and playing hard results in his ability to lead a fast-paced, energetic, goal-achieving environment with over 325 field sales members in 26 offices in North America. Because Marty has worked for InterCall since 1994, he has been involved in virtually every development of conferencing’s life cycle. People often attribute Marty as the guidepost of InterCall’s street reputation, inspiring the most passionate and high-energy sales team in the industry.

Having a Bad Voice Day? Breathe…
November 17, 2010 @ 10:01 AM | By Kate Nelson

Singing in the Rain is one of my all time favorite movies! Aside from being one of the great classic musicals, this movie has a running theme similar to what I do at InterCall, which is how the main characters spend most of their time trying to prevent the general public from hearing Lina Lamont’s overly nasal, untrained, unrefined voice. For those of you who have not seen or heard of the movie, you can read a brief synopsis.

While I may not go to such great lengths as Dom and Cosmo to help someone change their voice, I do work with many employees on an ongoing basis to help them sound their best. My role at InterCall is to make sure our expertly trained operators sound polished and professional when they help facilitate operator assisted conference calls or online events.

Maybe you’ve felt the need for a “Kathy Selden” to do your speaking for you when you are having a “bad voice day” when you’ve got a big presentation coming up, which is similar to a bad hair day only you can hear the disheveledness instead of seeing it.  But there aren’t any Kathy Seldens out there to speak for us. We are on our own.  By nature, we are designed to be good speakers as long as we practice good vocal habits.

How do we overcome THAT voice? You have heard THAT voice….the kind that makes you want to hang up your phone or put your fingers in your ears and yell “lalalalalala.” How can we be more audibly pleasing? There are easy ways to sound better without having to bribe a fellow employee to do your speaking for you from behind a curtain while you lip sync. Some of these vocal exercises or warm-ups may seem silly but they work. 

  • Lip flutters - Let your lips gently touch and simply blow air through them. This may be the sound some of us make when we are exasperated but little did you know that you were actually doing a vocal warm up! This exercise loosens the orbicularis oris, the muscles around your lips. These muscles are important for creating the lip positions and movements during speech.
  • Breathing – Observe how you breathe during the day. Are you breathing mainly with your lungs (shallow breathing) and not your diaphragm and lungs combined?  Proper breathing involves the diaphragm which results in a healthier voice that is rich and projected. It also keeps the mental part of you relaxed.  This does not mean that you inhale all the air in the room and exhale it in one whoosh. Pace yourself and simply let the body do what it was built to do.  Make sure you do a random breath check throughout the day. Place your hand on your belly and observe a gentle rise and fall motion.  If your belly is relatively motionless, then practice deep breathing a couple times a day so you become more connected with your diaphragm. James V. Lunden recommends trying this very simple exercise when you first wake up and repeat it throughout the day:
    • Sit with your back straight, head up and shoulders back.
    • Once your posture is right, inhale as deeply and slowly as you can into your stomach.
    • Hold the breath for a two-count and then exhale all the air from your body.
    • Repeat this exercise 5 - 10 times.
  • Hum - Some people hum to themselves all day but what they may not realize is that they are doing one of the easiest and best vocal exercises.  Humming is a great way to get the voice going before you have to do any speaking. We naturally hum at our ideal vocal pitch and when you are conscious of your humming, you can play around with inflections. Humming is gentle and will not overwork your vocal folds.

I’ll wrap up my blog post with a valuable quote from my good friend and colleague, Sally Morgan. Sally is a well known voice and singing coach in New York City and is CEO of the Sing Like You Speak and Vocal Power Tools training web sites. In a recent interview with Gwyn Gilliss from The Actor’s Market, Sally had a remarkable viewpoint, “Everybody has a great voice. But people let bad habits and misconceptions cover up their good voice.” 

Stay tuned for more ways to improve your voice and make sure you are sounding your best not just in your virtual meetings, but all the time!

Kate Nelson is a Speech Analyst and works out of the West Point office and is a member of the WP Training team. She works with the North American and Indian call centers and provides speech, voice, and accent modification training for all employees. She is a graduate of Auburn University with a BS in Speech Pathology and Audiology and is a certified Compton P-ESL (Pronouncing English as a Second Language) trainer. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) at Auburn University. She is married and has a 5 ½ yr. old son. She is a self-described “word-nerd” and loves music, oenology, studying other languages, and being with her family.

Beating Cannibals with Text Messages and Twitter
November 16, 2010 @ 08:00 AM | By Andrew Parker

When we first approached event producers to try webcasting, they called us cannibals.

Fearing that us ‘streamers’ would eat up their live attendance figures, marketing folks and trade show planners kept us at arm’s length and asked, “Why would our audience show up to the physical event if they can just watch it from home?” But then along came the recession, bringing with it budget cuts and travel restrictions, and we suddenly got along famously.

Now at the end of 2010, it’s difficult to find any live conference or corporate gathering that isn’t streamed as well.

But when you have two audiences—one in the room and one that’s separated by thousands of miles watching on a 17” monitor—how can you possibly keep them both involved? How can a live presenter encourage interaction between the virtual and physical worlds?

Working with our sister company, Televox, the InterCall streaming development team took advantage of a tool that is already in everyone’s pocket to truly pioneer some new “hybrid” technology: By using regular cell phones to send text message questions and respond to live polls, physical attendees and virtual attendees can both weigh in, seamlessly taking part in the presentation together. The presenters, the physical audience and the virtual attendees all work together, blurring the technological divide.

This past Wednesday, we hosted a hybrid event for a major pharmaceutical client. We streamed a live presentation from a studio in San Francisco to approximately 3000 live viewers gathered together at over 160 restaurants across the country. Interspersing the presentation with several viewer polls, all attendees were able to vote with their cell phones and respond directly to the presenters, making for an unparalleled level of engagement in the event.

Since we also integrated Twitter with the InterCall Streaming platform only a few months ago, we’re seeing those truly connected folks taking advantage of webcasting like never before! During our own Unified Communications panel in September, we saw conversations starting on Twitter and then rolling into our live panel discussion, while users texted questions and voted on live polls directly on their screens. Clients have recently been requesting the SMS and Twitter integration for events as varied as corporate updates, product launches, promotional trade shows and even a financial webcast! Creativity in marketing (and growing trust in the virtual audience) is really changing the business of meeting planners.

So what’s our next step? What else are you doing to merge the physical meeting and the virtual event?

Andrew Parker is a senior marketing manager for Streaming and Event Services at InterCall. Working between the product, promotional and production teams, Andrew has experienced every facet of the webcasting and virtual event industry as it has grown into a must-have business technology. Outside of InterCall, Andrew likes live music, good food and exploring New York City by bicycle.

Less Travel…More Time This Holiday Season!
November 11, 2010 @ 08:01 AM | By Christina Todisco

The holiday season is fast approaching and if you are like me, you are already feeling the stress of the mile long to-do list to make this season better than the last—turkey, pumpkin pie, decorating the house, shopping, mailing greeting cards, wrapping gifts, family visits, parties…the list goes on and on. This doesn’t leave a lot of time for those special extras you would like to include, like adding more lights to your outside display, going to a holiday play or baking your own cookies to serve instead of store-bought ones.

Unfortunately, work can get in the way of your dreams for the perfect holiday season, especially if it requires travel to another state or country. This holiday season, why not cancel your business travel plans and hold virtual meetings instead. With InterCall’s conferencing services you can accomplish many of your business objectives right from your desk!

Give it a try! What would you do with your extra time if no business travel was needed from now until 2011? A drive with the family to look at holiday lights? A play date with your kids and their new toys? Maybe just some sleep?

Christina Todisco is a marketing manager at InterCall and has been in the conferencing industry since 2002. Christina currently provides product marketing support for InterCall’s audio services, reporting and invoice solutions and InterCall Online. When not working, Christina enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter, family and friends.

A Halloween Horror Story
November 10, 2010 @ 08:38 AM | By Support Squad

Commuter stories can be quite frightening, and on the tail end of the Halloween season, it’s only fitting that I recount one shared by my friend Sara.  Having moved in recent months much closer to downtown Denver, Sara’s commute has transformed from a simple jaunt from nearby Boulder to a treacherous and terrifying stretch of road known in the Denver metro area only as “36.” 

Since October 29 fell on a Friday, most citizens who embrace the opportunity to celebrate Halloween chose the convenience of Friday over the end of weekend Sunday celebrations that would render the next work week painful.  Therefore, Sara set out on her new route to work dressed in convincing fashion as a zombie crossing guard—pale, deathly makeup juxtaposed against the fluorescent yellow green of her uniform. Within minutes of merging onto Highway 36 from the Boulder turnpike, Sara found herself not in slowly progressing traffic, but rather trapped in a parking lot of despair.

An accident further up the road between a man dressed like Spongebob Squarepants and a woman who represented the helium balloon made famous by the “Balloon Boy” episode in Fort Collins in 2009 had rendered 36 into a horrifying debacle.  While these individuals argued over fault, Sara noticed in the rearview mirror her pale zombie skin glowing red with impatience.  New to the commute since her move, she was unsure of an exit that would provide a quicker and more efficient route to work. As the clock ticked closer to her 8:00 AM meeting, the fruitless anxiety of frustration and dejection set in.

To compound the issue, all around her, strange creatures wailed in road rage.  A vampire in the car on her right squeezed his steering wheel until his knuckles threatened to burst, and the werewolf woman in his passenger seat pounded the dashboard while lamenting the immovable traffic.  Worse, to her left, Sara spotted the commissioner of her fantasy football league, dressed meticulously as Raggedy Anne, his makeup running with tears of frustration and denial.  All of them, these savage creatures stuck on a highway of doom, would be late.  Meetings would be missed.  Production would be impacted. 

Sara’s GPS had only mapped the most common route, and by the time the voice from her dashboard began to check traffic, it was too late. She was boxed in the middle lane with nothing to do but wait.

Using web conferencing to join the 8:00 AM meeting from home is one way people learned to avoid this very situation. Although less likely to occur online than on Highway 36, content presented in web conferences can get jammed. Without clear information on how to best route packets in a manner that maintains the integrity of anyone’s secure network, traffic stoppage can occur.  At InterCall we strive to provide information through our public-facing Knowledge Base that can enable those with home network security, or enterprise IT teams, to allow traffic to route to and from end users within the network, while at the same time maintaining security.  The link below depicts a means by which Microsoft® Office Live Meeting content can be allowed in an end user’s environment and eliminates the type of horror show that can grind a meeting to a halt. http://intercall.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/549

Jake Bendrick is a web operations manager at InterCall

Conversations to See but Not Hear!
November 9, 2010 @ 02:12 PM | By Cody Royster

Recently I had the privilege to attend a friend’s wedding where I was more than amazed by all my surroundings. The wedding itself was beautiful. The bride and groom were as giddy as high school sweethearts, flowers were in bloom and the setting sun painted a gorgeous backdrop behind maple trees turning their fall color. All of these things were special and unique in their own way, but they are not what most intrigued me.  The silence is what captivated me that evening!

There was an interpreter on each side of the bride and groom signing the vows as they were spoken  since the bride’s parents and most of the guest are deaf. After the “I dos” came loud applause and cheers. Then, when the bride and groom were whisked away for pictures, silence fell over the crowd. 

To me it was an uneasy silence, being there among so many people and not really hearing anyone talking.  For a moment I felt as if I was stuck in some sci-fi drama where all the people lost their voices and there was no sound in the world!  My eyes saw what my ears could not hear…people were talking, mingling, hugging and catching up on the lives of one another. In that moment, I heard the conversations and felt part of a community I hadn’t seen before.

As a conferencing company, our job is to help people talk, share and engage. We realize that sometimes that happens in different ways, which is why we support customers who are deaf or may have difficulty hearing. Through Relay Conference Captioning, those who are deaf, hearing impaired or have a speech loss can still participate in conferences. This service offers one-way text streaming or two-way text and voice streaming so everyone can communicate during an audio conference call.

Ten percent of the total population has some type of hearing loss and about one percent is deaf. How is your company working to communicate effectively with these members of your organization?

Cody Royster is an Analyst Supervisor with our North America Operations team at InterCall. Having worked across the country in our operations, video, web, training, customer service, and sales department, Cody has been dedicated for the past 10 years to help promote, create, and manage InterCall’s conferencing services. He is a loving husband and enjoys photography and hosting dinner parties.

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