How Well Do You Know Your Conference Services?
September 26, 2013 @ 01:30 PM | By Christina Todisco

Your mobile device is pretty handy for checking emails, browsing Facebook and downloading your favorite music. But did you know that your device is completely capable of all of the features that you need to connect with your clients and colleagues for a conference call? Here are some ways that your smartphone or tablet is capable of facilitating an online meeting, no matter where you might be.

Text messages

Just like you pass a note to a colleague during a meeting, on occasion, an SMS message is a great way to privately communicate during a conference call without having to leave the conference.

Sub-conferences

Sometimes, you need to take a “huddle” during your online meetings to strategize as a team before conferring with another party. A sub-conference allows you to do just that. It works like a private chat room within a conference, allowing for an interaction without having to leave the meeting altogether.

Mobile apps

When you are in a conference room in the middle of a great discussion, the last thing that you want to do is to leave the room to look at your calendar or browse through your list of contacts. And sometimes, you need to look at your company-specific app to leverage information that you can bring to the table during a debate. Now, this is all possible right on your smartphone. And it can be done simultaneously while you engage in an audio conference call or online meeting.

Call continuation/waiting rooms

Busy executives frequently are in back-to-back conferences. Call continuation, enabled by pressing *8, allows a meeting to keep going, even if the host has to drop off. And, if a meeting runs over and another one is set to begin, hosts can lock the conference to prevent the new participants from joining. This can be done at any time by pressing *7.

Are you getting the most out of your smartphone and online meetings? All of these features and more are made available when you invest in conference call services for your smartphone or tablet.

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.

Bringing Your Business On-the-Go
September 24, 2013 @ 01:21 PM | By James Whitemore

In the “good old days,” a work day began in the morning and ended when you left the office at 5. But now, we have entered a new mobile era. And in this new age, employees stay in touch at all times. Whether you are in or out of the office, it’s all about staying connected to your business and being accessible 24/7.

Over the course of a business day, an employee might be in four or five locations, meaning it is becoming more and more common to sit behind a smartphone or laptop instead of a desk. For this reason, collaboration amongst a group of scattered workers is key. To keep everyone on the same page and up to date, employers need the proper tools to communicate. Conference calls, email, messaging and text services must all be combined and readily accessible to ensure a seamless, unified platform.

A recent survey, however, indicates that while the unified communications (UC) trend is growing, only 21 percent of companies have adopted the concept. Further, out of 200 IT professionals who were surveyed, only 57 percent claimed to partially adopt a UC strategy. Therefore, those businesses who have already adopted UC offerings are two steps ahead of the competition.

When a company unifies its communications, problems like missed calls become drastically reduced. This is due to services such as Find Me/ Follow Me. With it, employees can be tracked across multiple locations even while they are away from their primary phones. Find Me/ Follow Me allows for calls to be routed to multiple phones, so that a call will transfer to a cell phone from a landline in the event that an employee does not pick up. And with a voicemail to email service, messages can be transferred directly to email accounts to ensure that recipients always stay informed when a call is missed.

Collaboration, however, goes beyond voice services. Employees today require features such as conference calls, instant messaging and web conferencing to stay in touch wherever they are, on whatever device they so choose. Through web conferencing services, it is possible to log into meetings from anywhere and even communicate using video. When used in collaboration with programs such as Google Docs or InterCall Unified Meeting 5, users can share and work on the same document at the same time.

If your employees “carry their desktop” around with them as they bounce from location to location all day, it is best to make sure that they can dial in, text and receive email and calendar invites when needed. These days, it’s all about mobilization—and to stay ahead, workers need the unified communication technology necessary to carry their job with them away from the office.

James WhitemoreJames Whitemore is senior vice president of sales and marketing at West IP Communications, the team that delivers InterCall’s unified communication services. InterCall and West IP Communications are both a part of West Corporation. James holds a B.A. (Hons) degree in Business from Newcastle University in the U.K. and currently resides in Boulder, CO. In his downtime, James is an avid skier with an enthusiasm for traveling and car collecting.

Tap the Power of Mobile Conference Calls
September 19, 2013 @ 02:29 PM | By Jill Huselton

Imagine this: your company is having an audio conference with a group of investors to discuss recent developments concerning a new office branch in Austin, Texas. So, you decide to go the extra mile to show the board just how invested your company is in this new branch by dialing in “live from the new site” in the boardroom that is under construction.

InfoG1
Source: US Travel Association

When you invest in mobile conferencing services and online meetings, you gain the ability to log in to your important conference calls from anywhere, without having to physically be there. You will have instant access to every feature that you would have on your desktop computer or VoIP phone, on-the-go. And for this reason, employees are becoming liberated more and more from the desk and are being sent directly out to engage with clients and customers.

In fact, last year U.S. residents alone accounted for 460 million business purpose trips—including meetings, events and incentives. And for every dollar invested in business travel, businesses typically gain $12.50 of increased profits—as well as $3.80 of new profits. In other words, through the power of unified communications, employees can virtually “be at their desk” while they are on the road. Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets allow for all of the features that they would typically need to communicate and do their job.

Today’s mobile phones allow workers the benefits of managing a complete conference call right from their own personal device. It is possible, in other words, to see who is waiting inside of a meeting, who plans on attending and who is speaking at a given time. And with a smartphone, it is possible to text directly to the virtual conference room to leverage increased communications.

When you mobilize, it means joining the global trend to move out of the confines of an office and into the world. And with today’s unified communications and conferencing software, this is becoming easier than ever before.

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 Else Can I Use Conference Calls For?
September 16, 2013 @ 12:41 PM | By Christina Todisco

Imagine all of the ways that you can use conference calls to better assist you with day to day life. While conference calls are very useful for keeping in touch with important clients and associates, there are countless ways that this form of communication can come in handy outside of day-to-day business practices.

Here are some creative ways that you can use conference calls apart from the setting of a board room:

1. Screen a blind date

  • Let’s face it: nobody has time to date, let alone go on a bad date. A bad date can ruin a whole week. A fun, safe and time efficient solution is to use a conference call to screen a blind date. This will allow you to see if you and your potential partner are compatible ahead of time. Chances are, if the lucky person can pass the test of your peers, it will be worth going out and exploring for yourself.

2. Discuss a gift for your co-workers

  • It is certainly difficult to try to get multiple team members to sign a birthday card for a coworker behind his or her back. Just imagine trying to poll your coworkers to figure out what gift to get that individual during office hours. While email communication is handy, there is always the risk of someone accidently including that person in the chain. As a solution, try getting the team on board after hours for a group conference call to discuss a birthday gift. And, if you use a web conferencing service, you can all do online shopping together.

3. Plan social events

  • Getting everyone together for a social gathering is a great way to relieve office tension and build team camaraderie. With so many people on-the-go throughout the course of the day, hosting a quick conference call to discuss monthly or weekly get-togethers such as bar outings or bowling is a solution that can benefit everyone involved. With the ability to conduct a live poll over your web interface, it is possible to conduct a random survey of where people would like to go.

Are you getting the most out of your conference services? Tell us in the comments section below!

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.

Three Steps to Avoiding Crickets on Conference Calls
September 13, 2013 @ 12:55 PM | By Christina Todisco

One of the most uncomfortable moments that can happen on a conference call is finding yourself with someone who can’t keep the conversation going and who doesn’t mind the ‘sound of crickets.’ No one speaks. Just dead silence. You end up questioning your presentation and wondering if you have lost the audience.

Either way, it’s a lose-lose situation. A lull in conversation can happen for a variety of reasons. Oftentimes, a person on the other end will be multitasking and will look for any break in the conversation to send an email, check his or her mobile device or complete an administrative task.

The silence could mean that an individual is simply waiting for you to talk. A caller might even mute their line and then forget to un-mute before answering. In any case, it is poor etiquette to expect the people on the call to keep the conversation going—especially if you initiated the call. So, what do you do?

There are three keys to remember when dealing with Conference Call Silence

1. Patients Makes Perfect on Conference Calls

It is easy to lose your patients when dealing with conference calls. There are times when it feels a bit clumsy and two people try to talk at the same time. There are other times when no one is sure who is supposed to be talking.

It is important that, as the presenter, you stay patient with these things. Losing your cool will never help the situation and will likely cause an awkward situation for the meeting participants. If too many people are trying to talk at once, mute everyone and let them speak one at a time.

If there is an uncomfortable silence, then...

2. Keep an Agenda to Properly Pace the Meeting

The key is to keep your participants engaged to avoid an awkward lapse in conversation. The best solution for this is to lay out your agenda ahead of time so that all parties involved know the planned schedule. This way you can seamlessly move from one point of interest to another during a lull.

By letting the other parties know your exact intentions early on in the call, it can facilitate an easy flow and prevent a live communication breakdown.

3. Run your Meeting like a Presentation

You can avoid conference call silence by acting as a presenter instead of a participant. If you are relying on other participants in your meeting to fill time, you run into problems. They may be unwilling or unprepared to fill the void.

By actively filling lapses in conversation with talking points and actively moving the meeting along, it will prevent you from relying on the others for ideas. Your participants, in turn, will respect you for coming to the table with enough information to fill the void and for not wasting time.

But, at the end of the day, don’t be terribly bothered by silence. In fact, silence is often a good thing—meaning you struck chord with the person on the receiving end of the call. Now it’s your job to do the listening and to let them chime in.

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.

When Conference Calls Simply Don’t Go Your Way: Part Two
September 11, 2013 @ 10:42 AM | By Sarah Murphy

Everyone hopes that when they jump onto a conference call, things will go as normally as possible. Aside from eccentric clients or the occasional slip up, not much can go wrong during a conference call, right?

Well, you’d be surprised. Recently, we polled our coworkers to see if anything out of the ordinary had ever happened to them while dialing into a call. And the results might surprise you. Here is the second part (When Conference Calls Simply Don’t Go Your Way: Part One) of our two-part series on real life, unexpected conference call situations:

Health issues

Health concerns are typically nothing to laugh at. But when someone has laryngitis or can’t stop sneezing, chances are the call is not going to last very long. One person that we polled told the story of a client who could not stop hiccupping. Simply put, if you are making noises that might prompt laughter or distract a call, your colleagues will understand if you opt out of a meeting. And whatever you do, if you hear someone else that sounds like a frog on the other end of the line, do NOT laugh.

Connectivity issues

More commonly, and less severe, you will encounter a person who dials into the wrong bridge. If you should hear someone chime in looking for Stephen or Chris when there is clearly nobody named Stephen or Chris on the line, this is the result of a bridge error. Most often this occurs in Outlook when someone neglects to reserve a conference bridge, or it is an error on the part of someone who has simply entered the wrong conference ID number.

Eventually, something along these lines will happen while you are on a conference call. And your reaction will ultimately dictate how your clients view you, not only as a professional, but a human. So stay alert and help your colleagues through a difficult time. They will appreciate your patience.

Questionable conference call locations

One of the most comical results of our poll had do when a person was on a conference call and everything was going great, until a toilet flushed in the background—prompting dead silence from those on the line. As it turns out, the person had gone into the bathroom to place a call, without realizing that someone was in a stall nearby. Restrooms, restaurants, casinos—these are all areas that should be avoided for professional reasons.

What is the worst thing that has happened to you on a conference call? We want to hear your story. Be sure to add to the conversation in the comments section below!

Sarah MurphySarah Murphy is a 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.

Improve Online Events by Tracking Attendee Behavior
September 6, 2013 @ 02:49 PM | By Eric Vidal

Yes, you can track attendance, run surveys and tests asking opinions, or pose questions during the online event in order to keep attendees engaged. All of those are important. But what if you could track their actual behavior? In so doing, you'd be able to see how your audience engages with certain content, experts and even their peers. You can use that information to adjust the content, the conversations and even the virtual environment itself to improve your efforts. After all, it's one thing to say you will do something and it's another to actually follow through and do it. You can read more here.

Eric VidalEric Vidal is a Director of Product Marketing at InterCall and is considered a leading voice and expert in virtual business, which expands from marketing to collaboration to learning. He has more than 15 years experience in developing, implementing and optimizing strategies in these areas for numerous organizations and Global 2000 companies. As the director of product marketing for InterCall’s event services, Eric manages the strategy and initiatives for the virtual technologies that include virtual environments, streaming, event management services and operator assisted services. Previously from WebEx, Eric managed the virtual classroom product, as well as brand advertising and new media. Over the last several years, Eric has held management positions at Cisco, WebEx, IBM, BBDO Worldwide and Macromedia.

When Conference Calls Simply Don’t Go Your Way: Part One
September 5, 2013 @ 03:39 PM | By Sarah Murphy

When you pick up the phone and dial into a conference call, chances are you take every precaution to ensure that things go as smoothly as possible (Five Tips for Better Conference Calls). You have your agenda in front of you; you have your notes by your side and you have quieted those around you. But how do you react when chaos erupts on the other end of the line?

We polled our fellow coworkers—and their friends—to come up with the strangest things that have happened while on a professional business call. And trust us… some were pretty strange (like bugs falling from the ceiling during the conference call). Below are some real-life scenarios of unexpected events that, if they have not already happened to you, are waiting just around an unexpected bend:

Natural disasters

Companies based out of geographical locations that are, for the most part, free of natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes, should keep in mind that some of their clients are in trouble zones. On occasion, these disasters can interfere with your call so it’s best to be prepared and to be a sounding board (or helpline). Remember that one of the worst things that you can do in this situation is to hang up. Stay calm, and help them through the situation. You don’t want to appear more frazzled than your client is, especially if you are nowhere near the scene of the disaster.

Infrastructure challenges

Just like a natural disaster can interrupt a phone call outside of the building, sometimes internal issues can cause a lot of problems. Fire drills (or actual fires), collapsed ceilings and pipe bursts have all been reported to happen during important conference calls. If you are on the phone with a client and this happens, remember that it could just as easily happen to you. Once the dust settles, remember to ask if everyone is alright—and then politely inquire about a better time to resume the meeting.

Inappropriate comments

One of the worst catastrophes surrounding a conference call can occur when those on the line falsely assume that they are on mute, or nobody else is in the room. From poking fun of the callers who are about to join to making lewd jokes, a variety of sentiments can accidentally be expressed on a conference call when the line really isn’t muted. It’s best to assume that as soon as you enter a conference room, everything that comes out of your mouth will be recorded.

Do you have any conference call horror stories? Make sure to tell us below. And stay tuned for part two of this series, where we uncover some more accounts of conference calls gone wrong.

Sarah MurphySarah Murphy is a 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.

Live Webcasts: A Front Row Seat without Leaving Your Couch
September 5, 2013 @ 02:52 PM | By Eric Vidal

Imagine this: you are sitting on a farm in Iowa. You are surrounded by cows and grass and your quiet homestead. But on your tablet, you are engaging in a live theater performance streaming in real time from New York City.

While many businesses leverage webcasts for marketing, training and other corporate uses, a growing number of groups are using webcasting platforms to stream video to consumer audiences. As a result, fairs, arts exhibits, concerts, dance performances, sporting events—even horse shows—are expanding their reach to larger audiences, some of whom are global, who would never be able to attend the live event.

Remote attendees can feel almost as though they are there at the event, thanks to advanced features such as interactive chats. For instance, a theater performance could include question and answer sessions with performers before, during or after a show. This level of engagement is built into webcasting platforms but it would otherwise be very difficult and expensive to arrange.

In the past, events were limited to a specific place and time. As producers and viewers have become technology savvy and networks are now able to carry high bandwidth video streams, broadcasting events over the web no longer seems exotic. Webcast prices have dropped as the technology has matured, making them accessible to small organizations and non-traditional users.

Result: although webcasting has been around for a long time, new uses are still being invented!

Eric VidalEric Vidal is a Director of Product Marketing at InterCall and is considered a leading voice and expert in virtual business, which expands from marketing to collaboration to learning. He has more than 15 years experience in developing, implementing and optimizing strategies in these areas for numerous organizations and Global 2000 companies. As the director of product marketing for InterCall’s event services, Eric manages the strategy and initiatives for the virtual technologies that include virtual environments, streaming, event management services and operator assisted services. Previously from WebEx, Eric managed the virtual classroom product, as well as brand advertising and new media. Over the last several years, Eric has held management positions at Cisco, WebEx, IBM, BBDO Worldwide and Macromedia.

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