Elephants online

Elephants Online?

Teleconferencing had become one of the world’s most

valuable tools for business globally. At the touch of

a button individuals from the corporate world can be

chatting away as if they were merely in an office down

the hall. But there is more use to this technology

than meets the eye.

One of the most innovative uses for this kind of

teleconferencing is being utilized by several

institutions across the US.

Colleges and learning centers in Tennessee have set up

teleconferencing facilities linked to an animal

sanctuary catering for the needs of Asian elephants.

One day a week students from several colleges, can

‘tune-in’ to the sanctuaries which can be anywhere in

the world!

Cameras and transmitters are already in situ and the

student can study the elephant in its natural habitat

without fear of disturbing the animal. Students from

different schools can then join in discussion groups

to enable them to expand on what they have witnessed

first hand.

Tutors are on hand to educate and guide the students

through the meetings and answer any questions they may

have - one tutor covering several schools at once.

Indeed, teleconferencing in this instance, has become

a hugely successful way to teach conservation and

ecology to the younger generation.

Who would have thought that the necessity for a fast

and cheap method of bringing business people together

at a moments notice would also, in turn, be used to

educate and excite our children about the wonders of

the natural world?

Teleconferencing in the community

Teleconferencing In The Community

Teleconferencing has become the ‘norm’ in the

corporate world with meetings taking place between

participants situated all around the world. But does

it have a use in the community?

Not only does it have a place, it has become

increasingly popular in ways that may surprise you. In

remote areas - Alaska for example - teleconferencing

is used between the public and municipal entities.

Winter weather and vast distances between centers make

face to face meeting difficult and sometimes

dangerous.

The State legislature has set up a communications

system whereby testimony can be given and recorded.

Meetings with residents are also carried out in the

same way.

The center of the ‘hub’ is the capitol building but it

has many conferences centers scattered all over the

state as well as voluntary posts set up in people’s

homes.

This system not only allows for the public at large to

interact with the authorities, it also allows for

interaction amongst themselves.

Issues concerning the community at large can be

discussed prior to the state agencies becoming

involved. In this way they put up a united front and

put their points over more succinctly. This also saves

time for all the parties involved.

This system could also be a life saver. In the middle

of winter this can be used as an invaluable life-line

to far flung outposts.

Who would have thought that this tool - the darling of

the corporate world - could be used so effectively

for, and throughout, the community?

Move with the times

"Move" With The Times

Perhaps the most annoying aspect of holding

teleconferences is the fact that people"s attention

spans can be so short. Why waste valuable time putting

together a complicated presentation only to find that

some participants are checking their emails whilst you

are in full flow?

One of the tricks of keeping a meeting interesting is

to use "moving" images or audio recordings to interest

and stimulate participants. Ask questions at the end

of each clip to ensure full audience participation.

A participant will be more likely to concentrate if he

knows a question will follow. This may sound a little

"schoolish" but better this than wasting resources on

inattentive attendees!

A virtual whiteboard is also another great tool to get

people involved. It not only makes for ease of showing

sketches in real-time, it also allows others to add

their own input to the board for all to see. This is

then captured by the computer for use and archiving

later.

Recording devices are invaluable in these situations

since they accurately record conversations etc. and

can be used to transcribe events of the meeting. This

also keeps people on the alert since they may want to

show "the boss" that they were actively involved.

Above all else, these teleconferences should be

interesting and informative. Although they save the

expense of hotel bookings, flights and travel etc.,

they can deteriorate into hours of wasted time which

defeats the object somewhat.

Be innovative, time is money. "Move" with the times!

Remote meetings

Remote Meetings

In the past, when conferences or meetings were

necessary between two or more people, it was simple to

book an appointment for all parties to congregate at a

given location and time.

As businesses grew, sometimes spreading out to offices

in different cities or towns, this started to become a

little more difficult.

In these days of high speed travel, including

airplanes, the corporate world has encountered many

more problems.

How, for example, do you get the managing director of

one branch of a company to meet with executives of

another branch when each office is on a different

continent? The answer is easy - teleconferencing!

For those of you who are not technically minded this

is a technique which allows three or more people to

have a ‘conference’ but either through their

telephones or computer and not face-to-face. It is

becoming increasingly popular and has several

advantages over the more traditional meeting.

Imagine the sheer logistics which go into booking

hotels, flights, limousines etc. Now imagine the cost

- plus take into account that everyone has to

co-ordinate their available dates.

With teleconferencing the hardest part is connecting

everyone by phone! Whether it is a three way impromptu

discussion or a larger, more complicated, meeting you

can use an ordinary phone or the whole set-up can be

routed through a conference calling service.

Whichever system, or online arrangement you choose to

use, it is clear that teleconferencing is an

invaluable tool in today’s hectic business world and

is here to stay!

Teleconferencing and home

Teleconferencing And Home

It is becoming increasingly popular, whether by choice

or necessity, for individuals to work over the

internet from their own homes.

This has necessitated a rather unique approach for

these individuals to keep abreast of work schedules

and the like without traveling to far flung places for

conferences or meetings.

Teleconferencing was born out of the need for faster,

more efficient, use of time and resources. Along with

the teleconferencing though came several negative

aspects of working from home.

If video conferencing is not being used, the

participant will not be able to have that face-to-face

kind of meeting whereby a lot can be construed by

something as simple as body language. This could make

it a lot harder to get your point over to just a voice

on the other end of the phone line.

Home-workers can also be distracted whilst joining in

with a conference. If you had a complaining child and

a burst pipe on one hand, and a conference call on the

other, which one takes priority?

But don’t be put off by teleconferencing. There are

many advantages to being able to attend meetings from

your own home office.

No more wasted time waiting in traffic jams or busy

airports. No more nights away from home in faceless

hotel rooms waiting for other delegates who may have

been delayed.

Teleconferencing is an extremely precious tool in

today’s busy world. Used wisely it can bring together

many intelligent, inventive individuals, saving on

costs and increasing productivity.

Lead the pack!

Lead The Pack!

In today’s high tech corporate world, teleconferencing

has become one of the most useful tools to facilitate

increased productivity. It is also a very effective

way of alleviating wastage be it time or resources.

Many of us have been at meetings or seminars where we

find ourselves drifting off into our own little world

whether it be through boredom or tiredness. However,

there are several ways to ensure that this kind of

meeting stays on track.

Consider producing an agenda which can be easily

distributed to all parties prior to the conference. In

this way candidates will be more prepared with

suggestions or questions when the meeting commences.

Start on time. Yes, that sounds very simplistic, but

what is the point is saving costs on traveling and

accommodation if you waste everyone’s time who is

attending? Remember the old saying ‘time is money’ and

try to stay strictly to the timetable.

Make sure everyone dials in on time. Again, no point

in having all those people sitting around just because

of a late phone call.

When it is your turn to speak, state your name so that

your voice will begin to be recognized. People should

be concerned about what you are saying and not wasting

effort trying to figure out who said what!

Above all else, try to get people involved with the

subject matter. It can be difficult to judge how a

meeting is being perceived when you don’t have the

luxury of observing body language.

Meeting of minds

Meeting Of Minds

With today’s sophisticated work methods -

teleconferencing for example - it is of paramount

importance to ensure that the meeting is productive

and doesn’t lapse into a useless waste of time.

Care should be taken to steer the proceedings in a

useful and interesting way to ensure full

participation of all the attendees. After all, what is

the point of holding a meeting where all anybody

remembers is how bored they were!?

Consider first what the aim of the meeting is. Perhaps

you want to develop an idea, or solve a problem, or

find a way to increase productivity. For more than one

aim an agenda is probably a good idea.

If you are not a good host, find or employ a

professional who can direct the meeting and keep the

‘flow’ going. He may ask participants in turn to

contribute to the subject making it more interesting

and more productive.

Tip colleagues or workers may contribute more to a

stranger asking questions since they do not want to be

seen as evasive. Office politics do not come into play

with a stranger.

Communicate to the participants well beforehand what

the objective of the meeting is - send them the agenda

- and outline what you expect them to contribute.

During and after the meeting state the decisions and

conclusions that have been reached so that everyone is

very clear on the progress being made.

Finally, send out a copy of the discussion to ensure

that there was indeed a ‘meeting of minds’.

Teleconferencing paraphernalia

Teleconferencing Paraphernalia

It may surprise you to know that teleconferencing is

not restricted to the business world. Many individuals

use this as an invaluable tool to communicate thoughts

and ideas over great distances.

It is not too difficult to set up a conference.

Something as simple as a two way telephone system is

relatively cheap. No specialized equipment is

necessary as each individual uses his own phone or

extension to participate in the meeting.

Speaker phones can be used but many people complain of

the ‘echo’ effect. It also picks up peripheral noises

like the shuffling of papers and tapping of pens on

desktops. It may be necessary to invest in microphone

headsets which would also free the user to move around

mid meeting.

Costs vary according to the complexity of the set-up.

The more locations to be used, the more expensive it

becomes. For example, satellite connections,

television facilities etc., will add significantly to

the cost.

There are specialized companies who will co-ordinate

all purchases of equipment andor services - again

adding to overall cost of the initial set-up.

You can add web conferencing software to your system

to enable you to show presentations and

demonstrations. This will give an overall professional

look and feel to the conference. Be sure to practice

with it before the event - inefficiency is something

you don’t want to portray!

Teleconferencing can be as simple or as elaborate as

you wish to make it. It all depends on your needs or

the needs of your company.

Teleconferencing accessories

Teleconferencing Accessories

Gone are the days of board meetings around a huge

wooden table on the top floor of a skyscraper. They

still occur, obviously, but it is more likely these

days to have a teleconference. That is, a group of

people - from any part of the country or world -

participating in a meeting via telephone or video.

Since the boardroom meetings started to go "high-tech"

it was also necessary for the accessories and

equipment to become more sophisticated.

Take, for example, the whiteboard which has replaced

the need for paper and pens. This white colored board,

taking its name from the traditional chalk blackboards

of our schooldays, uses colored markers which can be

dry erased. It replaces flip-charts and conventional

chalk boards.

This has metamorphosised into an interactive device. A

"touch-screen" device on the computer allows all

parties to participate. This also allows the computer

to capture any or all of the information entered on

it.

Another innovation of the whiteboard is the

interactive kind which allows for the input of data,

writing, drawing etc., allowing all participants to

contribute to a common project.

The whiteboard is not restricted to the previously

mentioned actions. It can be used as a projection

screen for movies, or for slide shows and

presentation.

The whiteboard is perhaps one of the most necessary

accessories for the organization which has to

communicate with its workforce or for project meetings

with clients. What better way to show that your

company is on the forefront of technology?

Teleconferencing etiquette

Teleconferencing Etiquette

Teleconferencing is as much part of today"s business

routine as pens and paper were to conferences of days

gone by. But with new technology comes the necessity

to "mind your manners" when communicating with global

participants.

When you are mid conference call, how do you make it

known that you have something to contribute? Do you

wait until there is a lull in the conversation or do

you just "jump in"?

Did you know that the Japanese will listen to what you

have to say, and then consider what they will answer,

leaving that uncomfortable - to us in the Western

World - silence that we feel compelled to fill up

sometimes with inane chatter!

Unless you are on a video conference, there is no

clear way to interrupt, especially when you are not

familiar with the seniority of all the participants.

Cutting off a colleague may be forgiven but

interrupting the boss - well that is a whole other

ball game!

If possible, discuss this sensitive matter with the

organizer before the meeting takes place. If you are

the organizer, produce an agenda and distribute it in

advance.

Maybe you could factor in a question and answer

segment at the end of each subject being discussed

which would also allow time for other suggestions or

ideas to be tabled. It is important, and to keep the

"flow" of the meeting going, that someone directs

events.

Organization is the universal language used when

setting up a successful teleconference whether it is

"in-house" or international.