Top Tips for Better Audio Calls
May 27, 2011 @ 08:39 AM | By Christina Todisco

Our customers frequently ask for tips to help make their audio conference calls more effective. It isn’t hard and keeping a few best practices in mind will help make the difference between feeling productive and like you just wasted 30 minutes of your time.

Before the Call

  • Stay organized and be prepared for your conference call.
  • Notify your participants of the date and time of the call. (Have you downloaded InterCall’s Outlook® plug-in to make scheduling your meetings easy by automatically including your conference account details in the calendar invite?)
  • Communicate any items that need to be prepared prior to the meeting.
  • Send the agenda to your participants.
  • Log into InterCall Online to adjust any settings on your account. For instance, if you will have a lot of people in your meeting, you can turn on silent entry so you do not hear continuous beeping as participants join or drop off.
  • If you are traveling, download InterCall Mobile Assistant so your account info is stored in your smartphone and you aren’t fumbling for your codes.

Starting the Call

  • Be on time or early to your call.
  • Have the phone commands easily accessible so you can utilize all of the conference features. These are listed on the back of your wallet card or you can download a quick reference guide.
  • Be sure you are in a quiet location where you will not be disturbed and try to minimize background noise.
  • Turn off call waiting, pagers and cell phones.
  • Conduct a roll call so you know who is there.
  • Briefly state the goals of your meeting and the agenda.
  • Do not put your phone on hold as this may put music into the conference and prevent others from continuing the meeting.
  • If you're recording your meeting, let everyone know before you press *2 on your phone keypad.

During the Call

  • Keep your conference on track by engaging your participants and keeping them informed of upcoming tasks and meetings.
  • Say your name before you speak and encourage others to do the same. It is easy to forget that everyone on the call may not be familiar with all the voices.
  • Ask for feedback from specific participants instead of the entire group. You're more likely to get a response instead of silence while everyone waits for someone else to answer.
  • Table any discussions that are not relevant to the agenda for a later time and place.
  • Try to involve all of the participants in the discussion.
  • Promptly deal with any noise or distractions by pressing *0 to request an operator.
  • Summarize the issues discussed and recap any action items resulting from the call.
  • Establish the day and time for the next conference call.

I hope this helps you to host better meetings so you get more out of them. Have you found other things that make your calls run more smoothly? We’d love to share some more ideas with our users.

Come back next week and I’ll give you some suggestions for improving your line quality.

Christina TodiscoChristina 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.

The Who, What, Why and How of Web Conferencing
May 26, 2011 @ 03:04 PM | By Sara Steele

Web conferencing isn't new, but it's only in the past few years that companies like InterCall have made it affordable and user friendly enough for anyone to use. From entrepreneurs holding a press conference to Fortune 500s holding investor relations meetings, web conferencing is useful whenever geographically distant individuals or groups want to interact with one another—whether that means across town or across the world. That covers the “who.”

What Can Web Conferencing Do For You?
“A picture is worth a thousand words.” “Actions speak louder than words.” We've all heard the axioms. Let's face it: Listening to someone drone on for 30 to 45 minutes about their great product or service or staying focused during a brainstorming meeting over the phone gets tedious. Web conferencing brings people closer together to share pictures, ideas and even words in a more dynamic way. Whether you're selling a service to prospects or selling an idea to an existing client, web conferencing helps you get your point across more quickly and easily.

Why Use Web Conferencing?
This is an easy one: to save money. Travel costs a lot in terms of cash and lost productivity. With the right web conferencing software, holding a web meeting is quick and easy. Want to get closer to someone across the world? Use the web.

How Do I Sign Up for Web Conferencing?
Sold on the benefits of web conferencing for your business? The knowledgeable staff at InterCall can help you select the web conferencing software package that's right for you.

There’s also an online tool for all of you ‘do-it-yourself’ types. All you need is a PC, an Internet connection and a desire to do business in a whole new way.

Sara SteeleSara Steele is an associate marketing manager at InterCall responsible for various corporate communication initiatives; including social media and channel marketing efforts. Sara began working with InterCall after graduating from the University of Colorado in 2006. In her free time, she enjoys running, skiing, and spending time with family and friends.

Let Your Fingers Do the Walking...to the Recycle Bin
May 20, 2011 @ 09:11 AM | By Jill Huselton

The other day I came home from dropping my kids off at school and found a nice bundle of something, all tied up in a plastic bag, sitting on my doorstep. I wondered what it was while being annoyed at another wasted plastic shopping bag.

Phonebook

When I opened it up, I found not one, but four thick books of yellow and white pages. Now I was not only annoyed about the shopping bag, but I kept thinking it was such a waste of paper. I couldn’t believe that these things are still in print. I mean seriously, in the day of the Internet, does anyone really use the phonebook anymore? They are about as antiquated as a pay phone.

It got me thinking about all the other things that have sort of gone by the wayside. It used to be that you’d never be able to find a plumber without letting your fingers do the walking, but now it only takes a quick Google search to find a plumber anywhere in the world.

Here are a few other things that I find following the path of the phonebook:

  • Desk phones – With the exception of dialing in for a conference call, I never use my landline phone for work. If I need to talk to someone, I email or IM.
  • Notes – I used to take handwritten notes during my meetings to keep track of what we discussed. Now I do it electronically with tools like Evernote.
  • Faxing – My printer/copier is also a fax machine, but I don’t think I’ve used it once in the three years I’ve had it. If I have to turn in a form with an actual signature, I’m all about scanning and emailing.
  • Printing documents for a meeting – Before the advent of web conferencing, I would sit on audio conference calls with a printed slide deck, trying to follow the speaker and keep track of which page he was on. Now with online meetings, everyone can follow along and save some paper in the process.

These are just a few things that quickly came to mind. I know there are more, but they are so part of my normal routine, I can’t even remember what life was like before them. What else has gone the way of my phonebooks (which is into the recycling bin)?

Jill HuseltonJill Huselton is a senior marketing manager at InterCall. She's been in the conferencing industry for nearly 15 years, working in operations, account management and marketing, mainly based in Colorado. Before leaving the Mile-High City, she hiked a 14er, one of her top accomplishments. Now she's traded the mountains for the beach and works from a home office in North Carolina.

What Have You Done for Me Lately?
May 17, 2011 @ 09:29 AM | By Charlie Connor

From the small mom-and-pops to the teleco companies and everything in between, it isn’t hard to find a vendor that can connect you with two or 2000 people. These days, there is no short supply of audio conferencing providers. A lot of times, you hear people talking about audio conferencing as a commodity or certain providers as the ‘Walmart of conferencing’.

Here’s the definition of commodity. Does your audio conferencing provider fit this bill?

Commodity: some good for which there is demand, but which is supplied without qualitative differentiation across a market. It is fungible, i.e. the same no matter who produces it. Examples are petroleum, notebook paper, milk or copper. The price of copper is universal and fluctuates daily based on global supply and demand.  

As a product manager for InterCall’s audio conferencing services, nothing bothers me more than having someone tell me InterCall sells a commodity or a solution that could be sold in a discount warehouse. Our InterCall IP Conferencing Platform (IICP) is the farthest thing from a commodity according to the definition above. We have patents, proven and documented differentiators and solutions on our platform that no other company can offer today.

When you’re comparing vendors, you should take a strong look at what is behind the service. The infrastructure, technology and network backbone are the things that make a difference in the quality and reliability of your calls. An all-encompassing ‘Walmart’ conferencing solution is not going to be a leader when it comes to building solutions and being ahead of technology and market trends. Innovation is inherent to InterCall: IICP has been able to accept direct IP access from our customers for over five years, and we were working on and supporting IP telephony before VoIP was an accepted enterprise solution.

Our customers consider InterCall a partner, so they continually demand more from us. At times this can be challenging; however, I remind my team that it's because no one else can do what InterCall does and our customers know that.  Our ability to integrate with multiple systems continues to demonstrate our ability to support our customers no matter what their collaboration goals may be.

So the next time someone tells me that InterCall sells a commodity and asks what makes our product different from the rest, we can politely respond with, “What has your commodity done for you lately?”

Cynthia Welch imageAs director of InterCall’s core services, Charlie is responsible for the product management of InterCall’s proprietary day-to-day collaboration services. Charlie joined InterCall after completing his business degree from the Kelly School of Business at Indiana University. Originally starting in sales, Charlie worked in InterCall’s business development team to help drive and support InterCall’s global sales efforts. In 2007, Charlie had the opportunity to spend a year in Singapore where he supported the restructuring of the office there and improving localization. Now back in Chicago, Charlie plays a key role in developing and improving InterCall’s core products. When not saving the world through collaboration services, Charlie enjoys spending time with his wife, Katie, and daughter, Annie.

If You’ve Got to Be on Hold, You Might as Well Enjoy It
May 12, 2011 @ 01:43 PM | By Jill Huselton

I’m a bit schizophrenic when it comes to my feelings about waiting on hold for my audio conferences to start. The let’s-get-down-to-business Jill can be highly annoyed that my time is being wasted and wonder why the host of the call can’t have more respect for busy schedules. Other times, the I’d-rather-be-doing-something-else Jill is thankful for the procrastination or a few extra minutes to finish up an email. No matter what, though, I’m always happy to have some good music to listen to while I wait.

Judging from the feedback we get on Twitter, our blog and Facebook, our customers are pretty passionate about what they listen to while waiting on hold. It is hard to match the music tastes of the millions of people using our audio conference call services, but we try to get multiple flavors of music from up and coming artists to be part of the InterCall Lounge.

Soon we’ll release InterCall Lounge Volume 5, and we need your feedback. If you’re going to sit on hold (and have whatever attitude you want about it), at least you can hear some good tunes. So, tell us what you want to hear for the next round. The top contenders are:

  • Ben Rector
  • Matt Wertz
  • Jessica Sonner
  • Churchill
  • Daphne Willis
  • Noush Skaugen
  • AOMUSIC
  • Avalanche City

You can check out their sounds and then vote for your favorites at http://lounge.intercall.com/vote.html.

We’ve recently made changes to our systems to make the InterCall Lounge more flexible by allowing it to be set on an individual, account or company level. So if you aren’t hearing the InterCall Lounge as your hold music, contact our customer service team or your company administrator.

And don’t forget, you can also download your favorites for free. Be sure to get Volume 4 before it goes into the vault and look for the songs from Volume 5 once we launch it. Also, follow us on Twitter to stay up on the latest info.

Jill HuseltonJill Huselton is a senior marketing manager at InterCall. She's been in the conferencing industry for nearly 15 years, working in operations, account management and marketing, mainly based in Colorado. Before leaving the Mile-High City, she hiked a 14er, one of her top accomplishments. Now she's traded the mountains for the beach and works from a home office in North Carolina.

Losing Control of Your Conference Calls?
May 10, 2011 @ 03:23 PM | By Sara Steele

Last week, I was attending an important quarterly conference call with several of my co-workers. I was trying to listen closely and take notes, but the sound of heavy breathing was coming through one of the audio lines. I couldn’t concentrate and my frustration started to quickly grow. I could tell I wasn’t the only one who felt this way, as I could also hear the tension in the speaker’s voice. Luckily for us, we were using our proprietary web conferencing platform, InterCall Unified Meeting®  to host the call. Audio integration with InterCall Unified Meeting allowed the moderator to easily identify the culpri t and quickly mute his line via the active speaker icon. The call continued to move forward with no further interruptions.

Whether it’s the heavy breather, the food chewer, the barking dog, the screaming child, of the fire truck driving by, these annoying distractions can quickly spiral a conference call out of control. Unproductive conference calls, such as this hilarious video depicts, can waste a significant amount of time getting everyone's attention and making sure they're all on the same page. Most times, the trick is just a matter of showing someone what you are talking about so there's less confusion, less distraction and everyone is following along with you. Had the star of the video, Dave Grady, been using InterCall's easy-to-use online meeting solutions, he could have controlled the flow of his meeting from the very beginning.

Control your audio conference calls

Dial-out to participants and even mute lines to keep Sparky and the kids at bay and other distractions away.

Share, present and collaborate

Show presentations, applications or your entire desktop and keep all eyes on the same page for faster decision making.

Run meetings from the road

Free mobile apps for your AndroidTM phone, Blackberry® or iPhone® allow you to run your online conferences anytime, from anywhere so you can see and share key documents - even on the go.

Schedule and start meetings in just a few clicks

Starting and running meetings have never been easier with our free Outlook® and Lotus Notes® plug-ins. Just click to schedule, click to start and click to have InterCall Unified Meeting dial you.

I want to hear about your most annoying conference call distractions. Share them at www.intercall.com/beenthere.

Sara SteeleSara Steele is an associate marketing manager at InterCall responsible for various corporate communication initiatives; including social media and channel marketing efforts. Sara began working with InterCall after graduating from the University of Colorado in 2006. In her free time, she enjoys running, skiing, and spending time with family and friends.

Collaborative Tools Make Sales Easier from Start to Finish
May 6, 2011 @ 10:50 AM | By Cambria Vaccaro

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words “video conferencing” and “sales"? Your thoughts may turn to stuffy, dark conference rooms, windows shaded to prevent ambient light. PowerPoint slides highlight selling points on a large center screen. The process might seem one-sided, as those on the near side make a pitch and the far side weighs their options before fading into oblivion. A few days—or weeks—later, the groups meet again for the big decision.

But today's collaborative tools offered as part of many popular conference software packages make a typical sales demo far more interactive. In fact, it's hardly fair to call it “typical”—there are no limits to how you make your pitch.

Web Conferencing Sales Demos Bring Your Products to Life 
Instead of static PowerPoint slides, imagine using web conferencing technology to integrate product demos with satisfied customer testimonials and even to provide a sneak peek at training and support after the sale.

If something isn't clear to your prospect, you can draw it out on a virtual whiteboard. Show clips of your products in action and use web browsing capabilities to better tell the story behind your product with a quick, guided tour of your company web site.

Make sure to take time to answer questions—or ask a few of your own. What features does your customer looking for? What needs do they hope you can fill?

Best of all, the technology never gets in the way of the message you're sharing; collaborative tools packaged with conferencing software are so user-friendly, your prospects won't have to think twice about how to follow along.

Conferencing Software Solutions
InterCall offers a number of conferencing solutions to fit your sales needs. Some of our most popular products include:

With so many options available for collaborative web conferencing tools, the only question is which one is best for you? Use our interactive tool to help you figure it out. 

Cam_blog Cambria Vaccaro is the Senior Director, Marketing 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.

Talk More, Say Less
May 2, 2011 @ 08:27 AM | By Tonya Hottmann

Ever feel as though, no matter how dynamic and engaging you are trying to be while giving a presentation, your audience is starring back at you like they are watching paint dry? We have all looked out at sea of seemingly blank faces and wondered what else to do in order to connect more effectively with distracted, impatient customers and colleagues.

Connie Dieken, one for the world’s most in-demand authorities on making audience connections, will show you how to influence others with effective and engaging communications.

Join us for our free webinar, Talk Less, Say More, hosted by Connie Dieken, on Wednesday, May 25 at 1:00 PM Eastern to learn how to improve your ability to positively influence others while challenging your audience and yourself to rethink how to communicate.

This program will help you:

  • Connect better with distracted, impatient people
  • Convey the right information without overloading others
  • Convince even the busiest, most difficult people to act

Register now>>

About Our Speaker
Connie Dieken is the founder and Chief Experience Officer of Influential Leaders. She’s the author of the bestseller, Talk Less, Say More: 3 Habits to Influence Others and Make Things Happen, selected as the gold medal winner and “Top Communication Book of 2010” by the Axiom Business Book Awards.

As one of the nation’s most in-demand public speaking and presentation skills coaches, Connie transforms leading executives into influential, high performance communicators. She guides executives at organizations such as Apple, Olympus, American Greetings, The Cleveland Clinic, Bausch & Lomb, McDonald’s, Moen, and Major League Baseball.

Connie is a former Emmy award-winning TV news anchor, reporter, and talk show host who delivers magnetic keynotes, workshops and executive coaching programs. Winner of six Emmy Awards and two Telly Awards, she has been inducted into the Radio/Television Broadcasters Hall of Fame, been chosen as a Top Ten Women Business Owner by the National Association of Women Business Owners, and received a Leadership Think Tank Award for her Connect, Convey, Convince® communication methodology.

Tonya Hottmann imageTonya Hottmann is the director of marketing at InterCall, responsible for direct response marketing programs. Before joining InterCall, Tonya ran a boutique marketing consulting firm for 10 years. In her free time, she enjoys reading, traveling, exercising and spending summer days at the beach.

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