With the UK enjoying a summer of sport from the World Cup to Wimbledon, the chances are that the nation’s workforce will, if they have the opportunity, choose to work from home so that they can catch up on their favourite sports. But they will still need to keep in contact with colleagues and the office—audio conferencing can play a crucial part in keeping everyone connected. The benefits are many; from decreased travel – that saves time and money – to faster decision making and a reduced carbon footprint, conferencing can have a positive impact on businesses worldwide.
As with all mediums of communication, some approaches can be more effective than others. There are a number of golden rules which can help businesses enhance their audio conferencing skills.
Here are the top four from ACT Conferencing:
Be prepared. If you are hosting the conference, aim to dial in at least five minutes before the scheduled start time. Remember the other participants can’t talk to each other if you are not there. Ensure everyone knows that you are hosting the call and has the correct dial in numbers and passcodes. Like any other meeting, issue an agenda prior to the call and advise participants of the estimated start and finish times.
Be organised. At the beginning of the conference, conduct a roll call to check who is on the line, ask everyone to introduce themselves and to always identify themselves before speaking. It is advisable to use the handset when participating in the call and to mute the line when not speaking, as this will improve sound quality. Activating broadcast mode will ensure that the meeting is not disturbed and locking the conference call will not only avoid interruptions from latecomers, but will also enhance the security of the call. If, as the host, you need to leave the call early, activate conference continuation. This will allow participants to continue speaking. To catch up on what has been missed, simply record the conference.
Be polite. Do switch off mobile phones. It is not just a matter of being polite, it can also cause interference. Don’t fidget; rustling papers or tapping pens can be distracting to other participants. Also, avoid walking around the room as voices can fade in and out. And this is important, do be aware that when you use talk mode, all of the participants can hear you- so switch it off if you are not speaking or don’t want your comments heard. And if you are working from home and have taken the opportunity to catch up on the summer’s sporting events, make sure that you turn the TV off (or at least have it muted)! No one can mistake the sound of the vuvuzelaor the thud of a tennis ball.
Be enthusiastic. Remember your voice accounts for 78% of your effectiveness on the telephone. Speak clearly. When asking questions, direct each question to a specific participant whenever possible as open discussions can be confusing when several people are participating.
“Conferencing is gaining popularity as a valuable business tool, so it’s increasingly important for businesses to ensure employees understand the protocol of audio conferencing,” said David Gladding, senior director of global sales, ACT Conferencing. “By issuing some basic guidelines, ACT hopes to enhance the user experience and make the audio experience a positive one.”