Have you ever participated in a telephone conference call as either a moderator or an attendee?  Did the call go exactly as planned or were there little glitches – the presenter stumbled, attendees didn’t know how to connect and/or the start time was delayed?  Did you ever use that technology again?  If you did, was it because you were able to work out all the obstacles or was it an application forced upon you by the “higher-ups” who purchased it?  Either way, ease of use in conferencing is paramount to its adoption.
Conferencing is one of those areas that appear on surface deceptively easy to use – thus many users dive into it in the same way they dive into a new car or PC or cell phone: start driving or using, read the manual later. But a successful meeting should contain the following:
•    Agenda, goals, and action items
•    Starts on time
•    Presenter(s) prepared and able to share their content as necessary
•    Works without a hitch, with presenters/speakers focused on content at hand and interacting with participants (not whether or not the technology is working)
•    Leaves all participants satisfied that knowledge has been transferred, information shared, progress made.
•    Ends on time

If you are the one conducting the teleconference, take a little time beforehand to familiarize yourself with the features of your conferencing service.  Can you stop and start recording?  Mute participants?  Ask for a participant count?  Dial out to bring members of the party in?  Ask for Roll Call?  Set how participants enter – either through name announcement or tone?  Is operator assistance available during the call should something go wrong?  All of these things must be considered in addition to the above-mentioned meeting points in order to hold a successful conference call.

It’s also important that all callers – especially moderators – be easy to hear and understand.

There’s tons of research that support the cost-effectiveness of using conferencing, but without truly taking the time to learn the system and ensuring that your chosen platform or service is very easy to use, it’s not likely that overall acceptance – and usage – will occur.

For more information, check out the Benefits of On-Demand Audio and Web Conferencing whitepaper.

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