Conference call tools

It’s time to end our collective “death by conference call.”

According to new InterCall research on workplace conference call behavior, 82 percent of employees admitted to focusing on other work or non-work distractions while on a call. Rob Bellmar, executive vice president of conferencing and collaboration at InterCall, recently offered some great tips to Harvard Business Review about ending conference call abuse. Here are his highlights.

Stop striving for inclusiveness

Online calendars, scheduling apps and email distribution lists have created a monstrous meeting invite reflex. It has become too easy to send blanket, one-hour meeting invites to 10 people when only five are relevant to the agenda.

Businesses need to break free of the notion that all attendees should be on a conference call from start to finish. Rob advises that managers can stagger invitations and plan upfront which topics will be discussed at various points in the meeting.

Start using video

Video conferencing remains a point of contention, and its adoption curve is a matter of psychological acceptance. The idea that everyone in a meeting can watch what you’re doing deters many workers, as does the dissonance between what we see in the mirror and what’s reflected on our laptop or tablet screens.

But Rob cites research from Wainhouse, which found that of the employees who use webcams and similar tools during meetings, 74 percent like the ability to see colleagues’ reactions to their ideas, and nearly 70 percent feel it increases connectedness between participants.

Understand technology use versus abuse

Just because you can videoconference from your iPhone before boarding a flight doesn’t mean you should. Organizations should dictate a new form of meeting technology etiquette, one that respects staff flexibility, and their right to efficient, uninterrupted work time and collaboration.

Rob says that part of this decorum includes redefining “full deployment.” Rather than give all employees the same basic conferencing tools, companies should give them what they really need to fulfill their unique responsibilities. Mapping the technology to the user, not vice versa, increases the likelihood that employees will take advantage of these resources and deliver a higher return on investment.

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Q&A

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What is some good software that allows one to make a conference phone call overseas

Skype and Oovoo are both great software that allow people to make conference calls to overseas locations. Plus, video allows everyone to interact more easily.

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