« October 2007 | Main | December 2007 »

DON'T Use a Cell Phone

This is a true story. I know that because it's my story and my confession.

I used a cell phone a few weeks ago on a conference call. It was a conference call with a customer, too.

I happened to be driving through Michigan at the time of the call. It was important, too important to miss. So my wife took over driving and I dialed in.

I may as well not attended. Here's why: The traffic noise with trucks rolling by every 10-15 seconds along with the distraction of being a passenger trying to handle my laptop and listen ( I was using a blue-tooth connection.) made my contribution almost worthless. And then I had calls coming in to the cell phone, further distracting me, forcing me to jump off the conference call and then back on, making me a further distraction.

None of this would have occurred had I been in my office. My cell phone would have been turned off. My IM service would have been set to DND. Calls to my office would have dropped into VM. Juggling my laptop on my desk would not have been Cirque du Soleil like challenge.

So. Showing the flag by being their on the call was ...nice. But after that, it was a distraction. At best.

DON'T use a cell phone on a conference call. If it's not important enough to pull over...it's not important enough to attend.

November 16, 2007 in Conference Calling Tips | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Best Practice: Third Time's the Charm for Reminders

We're all busy. That makes it very tough sometimes to remember that all important conference call. What day is it? What time is it? What's the conference number to dial...and darn it, which conference code do I use?

I've asked myself that same question many times. And too often, the sponsor of the call hasn't helped. They send one instruction, sometimes a week or more, before the call.

Help your audience attend. Send them at least 3 reminders. Here's the schedule we recommend.

You'll include the instructions when you announce your call or when your audience registers for your call. Then,

7 days before your conference call

Send your first reminder one week before the conference call. That gives your audience plenty of time to shuffle their schedule if need be, put your conference call on their calendar or confirm they did this promptly when they first heard of your conference call.

The day before your conference call

Ooops! I forgot! Tomorrow's the conference call....This reminder does a fine job of making this experience productive for your callers, not painful.

The day of your conference call

The daily fire(s) needs extinguishing. And your guests rise to that occasion. This reminder brings them back to your conference  call.

Remind your guests. They will thank you. Your attendance figures will improve. You'll look like an organizing genius. That's because you are a genius when you follow these simple steps.

November 13, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Best Practice: Prepare Your Audience

Well begun is half done. And the best way to start a conference call is prepare your audience before they arrive. Manage their expectations of each step in the conference call.

That starts with a clear explanation of  what they will experience throughout the call from the date and time of your conference call, to the conference dial-in number, what they will hear when they reach the conference call, what's expected of them/what they need to do, the agenda, how long the call will last and any follow-up or homework assignments, afterwards.

* Date and Time. We rarely receive calls from our customers or their guests on this issue.  We do recommend our customers remind their audience 3 times in the week before a call: 1 week before, the day before and the day of the call. Everyone's busy. Make it easy for your audience to remember your important call.

* The conference dial-in number. See above. The instructions to reach your conference call should be included

* What they will hear when they reach the conference call. Too many times we field calls from customers or their guests who are confused by what they experience when they arrive at a conference call. The most common sources are the music-on-hold feature and the high-touch operator-assisted call.

The music-on-hold feature is a great security feature that minimizes the chance for unproductive, disruptive dialogues prior to the start of the conference call. But the music remains for your guests until the host arrives using the host conference code. Difficulties arrive when the host uses the guest code for convenience and the music...just won't go away...

Operator-assisted calls are answered, assisted, with a live operator. A live operator greets each caller. That requires the caller to identify which call they want to attend. Oftentimes our customers don't help their audience by providing them a consistent, simple, identifying title to use with the operators. Or they fail to tell their guests that with such a large audience expected for this call, please plan to arrive 10-15 minutes prior to the start of the call. You may experience a moment of silence when you reach the conference as our operators personally greet each caller. Callers, or our customers, panic, calling us about the problem...

* The agenda. We've written about this in the past. But a prepared agenda, delivered prior to the call, keeps the host organized and the guests. It's really a sign that the host respects the time of their audience. And this agenda should be included with each reminder of the call sent to your guests.

* Follow-up or homework assignments. That's part of the agenda, really. Make your audience clear on what's expected of them after the call. That helps them prioritize their attention-span during your call.

We'll talk more about each of these in the coming weeks. But bottomline, for the best conference call be sure to Prepare Your Audience.

November 6, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Who's Afraid of [a conference call]

MightyLost shares a pretty funny sketch on conference calling titled Who's Afraid of a Conference Call?

The Kathleen Turner character's excellent. Does she remind you of a guest participant or a host on a conference call you've been forced to endure?  Share the story in the comments section here.

November 5, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack