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A Conference Call That’s Effective?

(suggestions that no one else has the guts to make)

As much as we hate to admit it, conference calls are a part of our daily business lives.  Whether they are with clients, remote teams or weekly staff meetings, we’re often faced with the challenge of making our calls efficient, engaging and effective. Keeping everyone engaged and focused can be challenging in any meeting, but conference calls bring their own unique set of challenges.  The temptations of multitasking can be enticing and productivity can wane quickly.
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What difference does an area code make for conference call services?

Subtle brand psychology and simple logic say “lots”

While it may not be that obvious to everyone, it makes a big difference– area codes are important. Some reasons to have local numbers:
  • People who live in your metro area, or even in your state, feel in immediate kinship with you.  This can vary from just feeling a subtle “we’re in the same geographic community” to something even more intimate, where you share not just the area code with someone but you have a common prefix, indicating that you likely live in the same neighborhood.
  • When there is a sense of having common ground, like living in the same community, there is at least a slightly higher assumed level of trust.  Whether or not this is warranted, it’s human nature.  We tend to trust those with whom we have connections
  • As a business providing global services,  the area code is often the give-away that you’re a local company.  It can make the customer feel like you’re just down the road in many cases.
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What are dedicated conference lines anyway?

It’s a funny thing how an innocent statement at one time can become a misleading false statment in the future, as the technology context changes. A perfect example of this is the notion of how many lines are offered by a conference call service. Conference providers are throwing out statements about how many “dedicated lines” they offer as a part of their packages. But what does a dedicated line actually mean? That is the crux of the matter… In the days of old (e.g. 2012) a company could say “dedicated lines” and it was sort of true.. You were given an access line to dial in some random area code, and given a pin number. If you dialed this number and your pin, you then had your “dedicated line.” But is it a stretch to say that the combination of a phone number shared by hundreds of companies, combined with your unique PIN code, yeilds a “dedicated line”? Probably. But noone was offering anything better, so in a sense you were truly getting the “most dedicated line on the market.” But times have changed! What is a dedicated line today? It’s a phone number that is yours, for your company, your department, or even your group of friends. The number is not anyone else’s. It’s not shared. This is what everyone gets that is a customer of Branded Bridge Line. Some customers print their conference line on their business cards. It’s truly a part of their brand– in their own area code, representing their locale. There is much more that can be said about the degree of branding possible on a conference line, but let’s stick to the matter at hand: Dedicated lines. So given what you now know about what a dedicated line is, is it honest to say that the case described first is dedicated? Dedicated as opposed to what? A quick search of google for “dedicated conference lines” will help illustrate the point. At the time of writing, the top results included ConferenceCalling.com, Intercall, Instantconference and Freeconferencecall.com. A review of their sites indicate that they’re all only dedicated in the sense of having unique PINS, and lines dedicated to the cause of conferencing– but not your brand! It’s likely that these providers aren’t trying to deliberately mislead their potential customers.. It’s just that the scene was different a while back, and you couldn’t easily get your own totally-yours-noone-else’s conference line. But the game has changed. You might say we’ve upleveled the status quo.

5 shameful personalities of conference call participants. Are you guilty?

Uttering the phrase “conference call” can cause a visceral reaction in the minds of many office workers. No matter what industry you find yourself in, engaging in multi-person calls is a necessary evil. While beneficial for a variety of reasons, the annoyance factor increases by leaps and bounds if faced with one of the five deadly conference call sins, pardon, personalities.

Sin #5 – The Technology Novice

You’ve signed into the conference call services and patiently wait as the multitude confirms their entry. After muting your microphone as the instructions direct, the sound of chatter and random clangings echo in your receiver. Charles, the accountant, can’t figure out how to mute his microphone. The following five minutes involve guiding this poor man through the simple task of pressing the “mute” button.

This annoyance occurs far too often, and could be eliminated by pressing “mute” upon entry. Don’t be a Charles. Think about the contribution you’re making to the conference call, and when in doubt, “mute”!

Sin #4 – The Cough Drop Man

Colds are terrible. They unwillingly disrupt not only your life but also the lives of those around you. Nonetheless, don’t let that tickle in your throat cause immense hate between you and your co-workers. If your phone can’t be on mute, take a cough drop and have a steady supply of water. When in doubt, pull the phone away and cough to your heart’s content; while covering the microphone, of course.

Sin #3 – The Popular Guy

Having friends is wonderful. A blooming social life is a beautiful thing; however, when your popularity becomes apparent while on a call, it’s a problem. background noise of any type is disrespectful and distracting. The disruption level is raised if the noise is laughter or your cell phone constantly dinging from texts. Move away from your friends and silence your cell phone to avoid feeling the icy silence of your co-workers.

Sin #2 – The Space Cadet

Quarterly reports, market data and other riveting conference topics may not keep you on the edge of your seat, but at least try to pay attention. No one wants to fully focus during these calls, but don’t disrespect the meeting by not answering when your name is called. Remember: the higher your focus, the quicker the call ends.

The Greatest of All Sins – The Toilet Flush

Nothing causes listeners to cringe to such a degree than the sound of a toilet flushing. Sure, nature calls, and sometimes you must answer even during a conference call. While this is a part of being human, so is courtesy. If you must relieve yourself, do so in private. Mute your phone or be brave and step away from the call. Spare your coworkers the intimate details of your life and keep the flushing to yourself.

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Does a pleasant conference call experience exist?

Most people think not. We’re here to tell you that it can be, both for the call participant and for the call organizer. We’ve been participating in conference calls for a couple of decades, and have witnessed enough online-meetings gone haywire, or worse, calls that never even begin because people don’t show up on time. So how do we change the conference bridge experience?
  1. Round up late-comers. If you can’t be on time, you’re going to get a call asking you to join the conference in progress.
  2. See who has joined (on your conference call dashboard)
  3. Get a link to an online recording of the call
  4. Get your own local number
  5. NO PIN NEEDED! If you want to “secure” your call with a pin, we’ll allow you to set that up… but otherwise, we figure out who has joined based on their caller ID and some simple deductive reasoning… It’s not rocket science.
  6. NO PHONE NEEDED! Your meeting attendees will get a link allowing them to join the call right from their computer… or click a link to dial in from their smartphone.
  7. More, More, More!
So stop the conference call madness, please get a branded bridge line today!

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