Find the right teleconferencing system for your company
Once only the domain of the biggest corporations, teleconferencing technology is now available for small businesses as well. Teleconferencing services enable business meetings, trainings or presentations to be conducted while the participants are located remotely—even across time zones. While there are initial costs for purchasing the required equipment, teleconferences quickly pay for themselves when compared to the cost of air fare, meals and accommodations when sending employees across the country on business.
So what is teleconferencing and how does it work? The main requirement is the conference bridge, which is a computer that works like a telephone system and has the ability to answer multiple calls at the same time. The presenter and the participants need to dial into this conference bridge in order to hear each other. At first, only audio teleconferencing was possible, but today video teleconferencing has become extremely popular as the cost continues to drop. A video teleconference makes the presentation feel more like an interactive video production.
A phone conference bridge can be owned by the company itself or they can contact a teleconferencing company and dial into one for a daily, weekly or monthly fee. This can be an ideal situation if the company doesn't want to maintain and upgrade the conference bridge on a regular basis; it's also a good option for companies that don't hold enough teleconferences to make ownership cost-effective.
A teleconferencing system can do more than just allow people to communicate through it by voice and video. Depending on the software, teleconferences can also include polls to engage the participants and the ability to record the call. Other system features on current teleconferencing systems include having a dedicated pin or phone number for dial-in access as well as scheduling software. The software sends an e-mail reminder to the participants along with the information necessary to successfully access the teleconference at the designated time.
One thing to keep in mind is that there can be some latency when the person on the other side of the conference hears and then responds to your voice—this is especially true if they are dialing in by long distance. Make sure to leave an appropriate pause when asking a question in order to give the person on the other end enough time to respond to you.
Like any new technology, using teleconferences to conduct business may be awkward at first, but it gets easier with regular use. Teleconferencing has helped to reduce the barriers of communication so that companies with many different locations can interact almost as if they were in the same room together.