Web Conference Teleconference Tips For Excellence

I spend a large part of my work days web conferencing with team members around the world and many evenings I conference call with colleagues involved in Internet marketing and other online business ventures. My main corporate job is a product developer for a high-tech company and my personal time is spent developing web sites and writing articles. Since I spend so much time conference calling and have been doing so for at least ten years now, I know what works, what doesn't work, what needs improvement and how anyone can be an excellent host or guest presenter with most any conference call service. First I'll address how best to utilize the audio or voice component when using teleconferencing services.

Think landline with a quality headset as the solution when talking on the phone. Please do not under any circumstances use a bluetooth headset when on a conference call. The equipment used by a conference call provider is highly sensitive to the frequencies used by bluetooth equipment and words and sentences will be chopped off abruptly and is extremely annoying to the audience on the call. This is especially important for the call host or guest presenter since this person will be the dominant speaker during the call.

The next worst offender is a cell phone in interrupting the conference call equipment. If you've ever been on a conference call and heard high pitched squeals and squawking coming over the line you can be certain that there are folks on the call using cell phones. Cell phones are perfectly fine to use on a conference call if you're not going to be speaking and the cell phone has a mute function. If you're the host or a presenter, please revert to a landline with a headset connected directly to the telephone. Voice over IP (VoIP) or digital phone service works fine, as that's what I use in my home office. If you use WiFi or Apples Airport gear anywhere in close proximity to your cordless telephone equipment, be certain to upgrade your cordless phones to a current 5.

8Ghz model. The previous generation of 2.4Ghz cordless phones will interfere with the WiFi or Airport frequencies and knock your WiFi gear off the air.

The much older 900Mhz equipment still works and won't interfere with WiFi, it just doesn't have the range of distance from the base station that's available with the 5.8Ghz gear. Hosting and managing the teleconference or web conference call is of the utmost importance.

I've hosted calls for up to 50-people and I've participated on calls that had close to 3000-people on the conference bridge. When the call is in open mode, anyone can speak and everyone on the call can hear everyone else on the call. Think multiple conversations going on at once, each person speaking over every other person speaking at the same time, kids shouting or babies crying in the background, television noise coming through the line, dogs barking, doors slamming, husbands or wives talking to the person who's on the phone, cell phones squealing and you have a cacophonous wall of noise coming through to everyone that's on the conference call.

I've even heard the sounds of someone in a bathroom with flushing noise on an open conference call. Not what anyone else on the call particularly wants to hear. The solution is obviously to keep the call in host mode so that only the host and any presenters are on the line that connects to the host function of the conference call. This isn't much of a problem in a daytime business environment, yet it's a real big problem when a large portion of the participants are dialing into the call from home. A rule of thumb I use whether to keep the conference call in host or open mode is the number of people dialing in and whether it's a daytime or evening call. Daytime and fewer than about 25-callers I keep the call open.

Daytime and more than 25, I keep it in host mode. Evening calls with more than about 12-callers, host mode only. A tactic that's used on marketing focused calls is to keep the call open while people are signing on and announcing where they're from to generate excitement and enthusiasm. As more and more people join the call, the noise problem described above rapidly escalates and the call starts out with almost everyone on the call annoyed and agitated by the noise factor. Here's a simple solution: when the call is advertised, send a throw-away email address along with the invite and ask people to send an email when they've joined the call.

This way the host can keep the call in host mode and announce and welcome people as they join the conference. The host can switch to open mode for a few seconds just before the call agenda starts and let everyone say "Hi" to provide that desired feeling of excitement, community and participation, and this should last no longer than about 5-seconds. Anything longer and the noise agitation factor comes back into play. This same approach should be used for fielding questions from the call participants for the host or guest presenter. If the conference call is opened up for questions, typically more than one person attempts to ask a question at the same time resulting in cross talk and uncomfortable silences when everyone waits for everyone else to ask their question first.

Also the wall noise factor comes into play and the questions are usually unable to be heard clearly by the audience. Again, the simple solution is to have questions submitted via email. They can be sent to the host and if the questions are for a guest presenter in another location, the host can screen the questions and only send those that are pertinent to the topic being discussed on the call. If the questions are sent to the guest as they arrive while they're speaking, the guest speaker or host will have an opportunity to see the questions that need to be answered and a bit of mental preparation can be done in the back of their mind before answering. This avoids someone being blind-sided by an off-topic or inappropriate question.

All of these suggestions apply equally to a web conferencing call. The obvious caveat for a web based conference call is that everyone needs to be on a high-speed DSL or cable modem, especially if there's a web based visual presentation taking place during the call. Anyone on dial-up even for a simple audio only conference call is at an extreme disadvantage and will be certainly frustrated by the poor results they experience.

An excellent feature that could provide an information product to either give away or sell is to capture a recording of the call. This is very important if the host or guest presenter is well known or is a rising expert in the topic of the call. There are software solutions that will capture audio from either a teleconference or a web conference and the audio file can be edited for clarity and made available for download. Another option is to make the call available as a podcast, either in whole or broken up into a series. Once an mp3 file of the call is captured, then another option is to have a transcription of the call made and published as an Adobe Acrobat eBook. There are services that will transcribe from mp3 files or alternatively, process the file through voice recognition software to create a word document or text file that can then be published in Acrobat.

This can then be made available for free or for sale via a download link or distributed by a file transmission solution such as YouSendIt. There are numerous web conferencing solutions and teleconferencing services available ranging in price from free to cheap and affordable. Keep in mind the suggestions I've made here and apply them to your next conference call and you'll be pleased with the results and the call participants will be grateful and happy. Any you may just have the beginnings of a web based business with these suggestions as well.

B.L. Walther is an entrepeneur and author of Success Digest. Please visit Success Digest for timely news, information and articles on personal and professional development for those actively seeking greater financial success.


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