Sunday, October 30, 2011

Is it possible to have a green conference call?

By Chad Otley


As every business is aware, the cost of almost everything is rising rapidly and one of the biggest rises in the last 12 months has been in fuel prices. Add to that the recent pressure on all businesses to reduce their carbon footprint plus the need to make cutbacks in expenditure and the problem becomes greater. For businesses with a scattered workforce, but which need to hold regular meetings, one solution is to replace face to face meetings with teleconferencing.

Teleconferencing, more popularly known as a conference call, is correctly described as an 'Audio Tele-Conference' or ATC. The participants taking part in a conference call can be individually administered with either listening or speaking rights and there is no maximum amount allowed for either category. Teleconferencing can be arranged using a standard landline connection or via VOIP (Skype or equivalent).

There are many providers of conference calls from which to choose, some offer their services free of charge whilst others operate a paid service. Free conference call providers will not usually offer recording facilities or a free call service (via a 0800 number) which could make the actual call costs prohibitive for long distance participants.

Chargeable Teleconferencing packages will usually offer both services at a fixed price, as well as PC and video sharing options, which will require the correct software for each participant, plus a user support service.

The expense in terms of lost productivity, refreshments, accommodation and fuel to enable several employees to attend a meeting is somewhat prohibitive when compared to the cost of organising a conference call. Teleconferencing is one of the easiest methods of communication in real-time and it can prove to be just as effective as an attended meeting, if well planned and organised.

There appears to be few disadvantages with modern teleconferencing, which with the use of modern technology has become a reliable form of communication. The most likely issues are breaks in transmission or phone line interference and although this rarely occurs it is wise to have an alternative to hand to avoid an abortive meeting.

Without the benefit of actually seeing the speaker, body language or other cues are missing so it is important to speak clearly and unambiguously for the benefit of other participants. Voices may be distorted through the phone line so each speaker should identify themselves and ask for a respondent by name to avoid any confusion.

Modern teleconferencing certainly has a greater number of advantages than disadvantages. The type of conference call service used will depend on individual business needs, but there is no doubt that using this method to replace all or just a few face-to-face business meetings can mean saving a good amount of money in terms of both travelling and employee costs as well as other business expenses like hiring a meeting room or providing accommodation for long distance participants.




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