Teleconference – the best solution for business meetings
Teleconferences are considered one of the most effective tools for business meetings with no boundaries or physical presence. Their simplicity and high accessibility turned them into a much-favored medium for daily business communication.
What is a teleconference?
A teleconference connects several participants at the same time with the help of telecommunications devices. It allows attendees from different locations to participate in virtual business meetings instead of in-person meetings.
Web conferencing is a globally available service that can be accessed from any device, at any time. Its flexibility makes it the perfect communication tool for businesses with:
• remote teams
• multiple offices
• clients from afar
Utilizing the online conference capabilities drives efficiency and improves business productivity.
Teleconference options are considered among the most effective tools for business meetings with no boundaries or physical presence. Their simplicity and high accessibility turned them into a much-favored medium for daily business communication. Learn about the advantages of conferencing solutions and how the business benefits them. Find useful tips on how to host effective business meetings over the web.
Benefits of Teleconferences
Optimizing operating costs
Cost efficiency is the primary benefit of voice and video conferencing. Teleconference services are provided by vendors specialized in web conferencing or by cloud telephony providers. They often provide competitive monthly rates and usually include free conference tools in the monthly package. Audio and video calls are usually conducted via local access numbers, which reduces significantly their costs, or by entering a pin to join. Regardless of the call’s duration and the time of day it is held the expenses for the teleconferencing are minimal. Furthermore, web conferencing significantly reduces the need for face-to-face meetings. This results in less business travel and accommodation costs. Colleagues, partners, and clients from different locations can easily exchange information and ideas via an audio or video service.
Audio conference services can be quickly and effortlessly configured and managed. One of their main advantages is that they utilize a widespread technology – the phone. Creating a free conference room and inviting the users to join requires less than 3 clicks. The attendees of the business meetings can participate from anywhere. All that is required is a working telephone connection or an Internet one. The simplicity of conference calls and their ease of use transform them into essential collaboration tools.
Joining a conference can be performed from any device. Audio and video conferencing can be conducted at any location with an internet location. No one is obliged to be in a specific place at the time of the business meeting. The people who are invited can join from a phone, mobile, tablet, laptop, or a feature-rich conference phone system like Yealink CP960.
The ease of use and the accessibility of conference tools are essential for businesses as they save valuable time. If an important decision should be taken, a teleconference can be arranged at very short notice. Thus, everyone can input their ideas and comments on issues to be solved without even leaving their desk.
Online conferencing brings people in charge together right on time for a real-time discussion. It enables the responsible people within an organization to conduct effective remote meetings and ensures good communication with existing customers as well. Teleconferencing can be fundamental for delivering the company’s message to the right people. Written communication can be lost, ignored, or misunderstood. While the conference meetings deliver the message clearly and guarantee that everyone stays on topic.
Frequent and effective communications
Audio and video conference services are widely accessible at any time. This allows the company to organize an urgent meeting with no effort. So an organization is flexible and adjusts quickly to the business environment. Virtual conferences are a reliable collaboration tool that stimulates effective communication within and outside the company.
Crosses geographical boundaries
Companies today are often globally present. A teleconference ensures that colleagues, clients, and partners from afar stay always connected no matter their location. Thus they can discuss business issues even if the participants are not in the same meeting room. For any company, this results in travel expense reduction, time-saving, and resource optimization.
Features of the teleconference
Conferencing service providers offer the business a variety of enhanced features. Any company can choose a package depending on the expected teleconference intensity.
Free Conference Services
Cloud telephony providers and conferencing service vendors may offer free teleconferencing for their customers. The free audio and video calls are included as an additional service to the company’s monthly plan. This free-of-charge feature does not require any cancellation or deactivation fees as well as a long-term commitment. If a company utilizes teleconferencing the host of the meeting can easily create and manage a conference room. The participants are invited to dial in using a special access code and an assigned local telephone number.
Start your free video or audio conference now!
Conference call services make it possible for a company to connect internationally through local phone numbers. This is a cost-saving feature as usually the local call rates are applied no matter the destination or duration of the audio conferencing. The invitees simply connect using the available in-country access number, followed by the PIN code provided by the host of the meeting.
Having control over the conference ensures its efficiency and success. During web conferencing using a mute button is an important option. It allows you to significantly reduce disruptions of the background noise, but it also implies that a person whose line is muted will not be heard. The host can also mute and unmute individual lines to minimize the disturbance during the meeting and to navigate the discussion. But again this excludes some of the attendees from the active conversation.
This is the reason why many companies prefer a professional conference phone system in their meeting room. These advanced conferencing tools have built-in noise-proof technology that suppresses unwanted ambient noise, while the speaker can still be heard by everyone. Background noise is one of the major challenges of conference calling. Read on to learn how to avoid it in order to have effective remote meetings.
Custom Hold Music
Some providers offer a business to personalize its hold-on melody. This improves the waiting experience of the attendees. Choosing the right music is part of brand communication with partners, customers, or colleagues.
Web-dial out feature allows an enterprise to arrange a conference call and conduct a company meeting right from a browser. Starting a business discussion over a softphone requires a high-speed Internet connection and high-quality audio or video.
Creating Unlimited Sub-Conference Rooms
Some service providers offer the option to create multiple sub-accounts. This helps a company to structure better the communication flow dedicated to a certain project. The sub-accounts authorize more than one person to create a conference call under the main account at the same time. This feature is useful for attendees who should continue the discussion in small group sessions.
Instant Conference Rooms and video meetings
In case of an urgent issue that has to be solved organizing instant remote meetings is priceless. Within minutes a conference room can be set up without effort for a voice-only conference. Joining a video meeting is also a good solution in such cases. It is fast and effortless – all you need is a device with a display and a good internet connection.
The analytics feature provides the company with accountable insights about its business communications flow. The included metrics give any enterprise valuable information about conference usage by individuals or departments.
Dial-out to add Callers
Dial out feature allows the host to call different users simultaneously and from the same device. Once the callers answer they are already connected and are part of the meeting. Depending on the specific company’s communication needs some businesses to choose this option over Dial-in conference calls.
How to set up a teleconference?
For audio conferencing
Setting up and managing a conference call requires several easy steps:
1) Service providers may offer a company free access to a conferencing feature, or it needs to own an account within their system.
Thus the host simply creates a conference room without the need to log in first with a username and pass. The other option requires the moderator to be logged into the company’s account to be able to start a conference call.
2) The necessary equipment for holding the conference call has to be available
Depending on the device used for the audio conferencing, the required hardware varies. A softphone with a headset, a mobile phone, or a tablet with a built-in microphone can be used. Many SMEs prefer a dedicated conference phone system with many advanced features.
3) Inviting the attendees
Invitations should be sent via email or instant message containing the exact date and time as well as the corresponding time zones if needed. An access code for the meeting has to be generated and provided along with the access number list.
4) The host and the participants should join the conference room
Audio conferencing requires callers to dial a specific access number and enter the access code (PIN). This PIN adds an additional layer of security to business conference calling.
5) Start collaborating
For video conferencing: If it is a web-based service you do not need an installation or login in. Your host will send you a link with a pin generated for you to join. You can open the link and click on the button to join so that you attend the virtual meeting.
Teleconference – a key factor for business success
Web conferencing is an integral part of the business communications strategy of any company with remote offices, clients, and partners. There is a wide range of activities, to which teleconference applies to:
• Connecting employees with prospects or existing clients
• Discussing the company’s strategy with people from different departments
• Solving fast important issues, that occurred unexpectedly
• Files sharing and expecting verbal comments and feedback
• Holding remote job interviews
• Providing internal training for employees or partners
• Conducting stakeholders’ meetings
The benefits of teleconferencing for any enterprise be it small, medium or large are really impressive.
Minimize business telephony costs
Cost savings are always the primary benefit for any profitable business. Switching to fee conference services is an option every business should consider. Some cloud telephony providers offer video and audio conference solutions as a free value-added service.
Reduce business travel expenses
Teleconferences are very beneficial in terms of reducing travel costs. Unlike face-to-face meetings, telecommuting does not require your physical presence in the meeting. Cutting down payments for business trips has a huge positive impact on the monthly budget.
Lower accommodation costs
Teleconferencing allows the meeting to be hosted and the attendees to join from anywhere. A company’s headquarters, a home office, a co-working space, or a coffee shop – any convenient place. Reducing significantly business trip accommodation expenses allows the company to allocate financial resources elsewhere.
Optimize the time spent in meetings
Apart from the obvious financial benefits, teleconferencing is a great time-saving tool. Web conference tools ensure more valuable time spent in the business meeting itself, instead of time spent on business trips. This allows the company to adopt a more sustainable approach, scheduling business meetings regularly. Additionally while waiting for all the attendees to dial in the teleconference everyone can continue working on their current projects. Thus they avoid the frustration of wasting time in an empty board room before in-person meetings.
Increase meeting productivity
Teams, customers, or clients scattered across different locations can effortlessly join the business meeting from anywhere. Leveraging teleconference capabilities helps participants spend more quality time during the meetings. As long as all attendees follow the established call etiquette, the outcome for the business is increased team efficiency.
Improve team collaboration
Online conferencing ensures that the teams involved in a certain project actively cooperate. The simplicity of hosting and joining a remote meeting, as well as its high accessibility, helps co-workers engage better. The option to meet at a short notice for discussing an urgent issue turns conference rooms into powerful real-time collaboration spaces.
No need for expensive equipment
Teleconferencing is supported by most business phone systems devices. Their seamless integration with the existing telecommunication infrastructure saves a business additional investment in expensive equipment. Due to the advanced cloud telephony technology, many companies do not need a dedicated phone line anymore. Teleconferencing is compatible with cell phones, tablets, and laptops.
Teleconference associated costs
Virtual conference costs vary, depending on what type of services a company selects. The choice depends on the business model and size of the enterprise along with its communication needs. Several aspects should be evaluated before making the final decision about the teleconferencing service.
• The expected conferencing frequency
• The usual number of attendees at remote meetings
• The average length of the meetings
• Implementation of VoIP services in the company’s business phone system
• If the cloud service provider offers conference as a feature
There are several types of audio and video teleconference services offered by providers, which differ in terms of costs and features.
Standard Teleconference Services
Large companies with a higher volume of audio and video calls often choose a vendor specialized only in conferencing services. The organization expects premium quality voice and video transmission during the remote meeting and the provider offers instant activation with no setup fees or long-term commitment. The associated monthly costs for such a service are usually calculated depending on the number of meeting participants. Additionally, long-distance charges per call may occur even if the call duration is unlimited.
Free Software Conference Calling
This type of teleconference service is simple to manage and easy to use. It requires access to a device such as a computer or a laptop with a working Internet connection. If it is a web-based service you do not need to register an account within the conferencing system. Setting it up is completely free.
Toll-Free Teleconferencing Service
Toll-free service vendors provide conference call attendees with a dedicated toll-free conference number. The teleconference participants dial this free number through a landline, mobile, or cloud-based VoIP system. The account holder call rates charged by toll-free service providers are calculated per caller, per minute. Additional fees may occur for mobile phone callers, depending on customized calling packages.
Cloud Conference Call Service
VoIP telephony providers typically offer cloud phone systems with integrated advanced features like call conferencing for their customers. VoIP teleconferencing connects calls via a conference bridge. This enables participants to dial in simultaneously a conference call using dedicated local numbers. For customers using landlines call conference is completely free of charge no matter their location. If the preferred conferencing tool is a mobile device – call rates fees may apply according to their specific business mobile plan. Cloud telephony service providers offer unlimited call duration, multiple voice conferences happening all at once, and accessibility from any device. A conference call reservation is not required. If the VoIP provider does not include teleconferencing in the monthly plan, the company will be charged per minute.
Teleconference vs. Traditional Face-to-face meeting
Conferencing technology has considerably simplified the way companies communicate. Teleconferencing has shaped greatly the entire system of business meetings. However, there are still cases when in-person meetings cannot be entirely replaced.
Why more companies are choosing web conferencing?
• It reduces significantly business travel expenses as participants can join the virtual meeting from anywhere.
• Teleconferencing allows more than two participants to attend at the same time a business meeting over audio or video.
• A face-to-face meeting requires all the attendees to meet in-person at the same time in the same room.
• Gathering all the users needed for the meeting, no matter their current location, is easy to manage.
• Participants can join the meeting from anywhere, which also means lowering accommodation costs.
• Planning the meeting in advance is simpler, as the company should not consider the travel and accommodation time of all attendees.
• A company may choose not to pay for a meeting room, specific equipment, or even a business dinner. The budget is optimized and can be allocated.
• Attendees feel more comfortable and focused. They are not stressed about flight delays, transport chaos, or missing hotel reservations.
• Teleconferencing enhances business productivity and increases team efficiency as the meetings can be conducted daily if needed.
• Solving an urgent issue over an online conference is easy. The responsible people can dial in effortlessly at a short notice.
• If the conference tool has a recording feature the meeting process could be analyzed and improved in the future.
• Including teleconferencing as a standard tool in the company’s communications strategy shows that the business is environmentally conscious.
When Face-to-face meetings should be held eventually?
• In-person meetings are favored when all attendees occupy the same premise and the meeting is expected to be brief. Then it is a matter of a short conversation to coordinate and conduct it.
• If the meeting is supposed to continue the whole day long and it involves too many participants.
• Sometimes non-verbal communication and body language can give a hint about the real opinion of the users, attending the meeting. Discussing a highly sensitive topic that impacts a lot of participants is considered to be more effective in face-to-face meetings.
• Interviewing job applicants over teleconference is an adopted method for recruiting nowadays. At later stages, human resources may insist on in-person meetings to see if the candidate will integrate smoothly.
• Conducting multiple web conferences with a prospect at the early stages of a new business deal is always recommended. However, its closing requires a physical meeting. Typically there are lots of documents to be signed by the contracting parties.
• Receiving instant feedback while the face-to-face meeting is still progressing could be vital for the direction in certain project evolves.
Etiquette for the effective teleconference
Web conferencing is a productive and efficient communication tool to organize and manage business meetings. In order to maximize their use, certain rules for conducting a remote meeting should apply.
Organizing a teleconference
Good planning and on-time preparation are essential for the success of the virtual conference. Choosing the most convenient time for arranging the remote meeting is vital for the attendees. This excludes early morning, late in the evening, or lunchtime. Another important issue to be considered are the time zones of the remote participants. If the meeting is not urgent, a poll can be created to find the most convenient time for everyone.
Scheduling the meeting with written invitations
Calendar invites, instant messages, or simple email – there are multiple ways to request a presence confirmation at the conference. Participants should be informed about the precise date and time of the meeting. A link to the conference app or website with access data has to be included. A day before the meeting a kind reminder about the future meeting should be distributed.
Preparing and sending the agenda of the teleconference
Well thought agenda is the core of a productive and effective teleconference. Sending out the schedule in advance allows the participants to ask questions before the meeting. The plan has to be very detailed as it will help users to follow the development of the conversation easily. If files have to be transferred between the parties, they should be sent before the meeting so everyone is fully prepared.
The conference should start right on time
The host of the meeting is expected to join earlier for the final preparation before it starts. Sound and microphones have to be tested. In case you need help, you can always contact the service provider support.
Choosing a quiet location
Background noise can distract the participants and turn the meeting into an ineffective gathering. Muting any kind of ambient noise is obligatory not only for the host but for the other parties as well.
Strict guidelines have to be announced at the beginning
Starting with the roll call will help everyone to get acquainted and to know who is participating in the meeting. The members should be introduced with a name and the reason why they attend. An important rule they should follow is to state their name before speaking. This helps to avoid miscommunication and makes it clear to the audience who is talking. The host has to cover briefly the agenda and set the time limits of the virtual meeting.
Staying focused, connected, and engaged
The host of the web conference has to keep the attendees engaged and involved in the conversation. It is easy for participants to get distracted if they are multitasking during audio and video calls. The host should ask more questions, directing them evenly among attendees. There should be enough intervals during the discussion for questions, comments, and feedback.
Summarizing the key points of the meeting
Before the end of the conference, the results of the meeting should be outlined. Furthermore, new tasks should be assigned and deadlines have to be set. The host is expected as well to thank the attendees for their active participation. This gives the participants the confidence that the remote meeting was useful and successful.
Follow-up email – for an effective teleconference
Sending the attendees a follow-up email allows us to engage and motivate them for future collaboration. Writing down the achievements of the last meeting along with the future goals is a professional way to finish the meeting. Personal positive feedback from the host included in the email usually boosts participants’ satisfaction with the meeting.
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