What is a Teleconference?
How can it benefit my decision-making?

A Teleconference is simply linking any number of telephone lines into the one call, so all participants can speak and discuss an issue at the same time. It’s virtual because the participants can be anywhere in the world and space, as long as they can access a telephone, or a mobile / cell phone.

Considering this further.

Normally a telephone is used to connect two parties together. This is a one-to-one connection.

The Teleconference is an extension of the normal telephone one-to-one connection. A teleconference is simply a meeting between more than two participants and can be as simple as a:

- Telephone at two ends with a speaker and a microphone,

or as complex as:

- A telephone at several locations being connected by a Telecommunications Provider using a Bridge, or
- Several people in a room at several locations using a speaker-phone arrangement, again connected through a Bridge provided by a Telecommunications Provider.

A Teleconference can powerfully connect:
- One-to-One as in a normal call
- One-to-Many (One person to many other people)
- Many-to-Many (Board Rooms to Board Rooms) or
- Many-to-Many (individuals to many other individuals).

Refer also to Virtual Meeting for general Meeting Preparation and Planning for all Virtual Meeting and Conferencing.

This Section notes those issues directly relevant to a Teleconference. There is an equivalent Section noting issues directly relevant to Videoconferencing.

The advantages and disadvantages have been discussed in Virtual Meetings and are very relevant to the Teleconference. The lack of non-verbal communications is significantly overcome using the next stage of Virtual Meeting called the Videoconference.

But do not underestimate the Teleconference as a very cost-efficient and effective meeting enabler.

This technology is excellent when all participants know each other, and when it is suitable to only communicate by voice (and its intonation and inflexion).

This would not be the optimum technology (assuming there is access to videoconferencing) to conduct job interviews at distant locations where the richness of body language is needed to compliments the spoken language.

How do you PLAN a teleconference meeting?

One to two weeks before the Meeting

To utilise this excellent resource consider the following guidelines for use.

Location: Choose a quiet location with a telephone outlet: meeting room, board room.

Equipment: Choose handsets that are hard-wired to the phone network. If there is a choice, avoid mobile / cellular phones or cordless phones for the conference as distracting interference can detract from the meeting.

Choose a speaker-phone that is full digital duplex and allow all parties to speak at the same time. Other (simplex) handsets will cause a speaker to be cut-out when there is an interruption, or a loud noise.

One Week before the Meeting

Check the room and equipment is still available and no changes are required.

Check the One week before the Meeting for Virtual Meeting.

During the Meeting

Technical: Use the MUTE button if there needs to be a conversation in private. Do not place a phone on HOLD as this could play music into the meeting from your handset.

Turn off CALL WAITING so that the tone of an arriving call is not confused with the conferencing system announcing a new participant.

Refer to the During the Meeting for Virtual Meeting.

Ensure you consider:

. Being early to the meeting
. Beginning the meeting with an enthusiastic tone
. Have everyone introduce themselves and consider asking participants to include either the local weather of one positive event in recent days
. Introduce the Agenda
. State the Meeting Aims
. Remain focused on the Agenda throughout the meeting
. Remain on time
. Keep discussion concise
. Revise the meeting often to ensure all participants are in agreement
. Write out the meeting decisions as the Agenda is covered and place onto a Meeting Whiteboard if one is available
. Close clearly with a thankyou, a summary and a recognisable end to the meeting
. Also close very clearly so all participants know the meeting has ended. And each participant has signed off
. If you are chairing the meeting, you need to be the last to sign off.

Happy Teleconferencing !

Return from Teleconference to Virtual Meeting