What is Teleconferencing? 10 Steps to a Successful Meeting
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated July 21, 2022 | Published November 30, 2021
Updated July 21, 2022
Published November 30, 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Related: Virtual Meeting Tips: Work From Home Do's and Dont's!
In this video, we will offer tips for proper virtual meeting etiquette while working from home. From your setup at home to how you prepare before hand, this video will guide you in refining your virtual call skills and keep your coworkers in mind.
With many companies providing remote work opportunities, more employees are working from home or in a virtual capacity. Bringing people together to hold meetings and facilitate discussion is still a vital element to business success. Learning about the use of teleconferencing can help you better prepare and run effective virtual meetings. In this article, we discuss the definition and function of teleconferencing, identify the primary benefits of the process, and highlight the 10 steps to hosting a successful virtual meeting.
What is teleconferencing?
As more employers offer remote work opportunities, you may ask yourself, what is teleconferencing and how does it apply to me? This technology brings two or more people together using telecommunications services to share information virtually. Also referred to as virtual meetings or conference calls, teleconferencing allows people to meet virtually using phones or online services.
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How does teleconferencing work?
Companies with remote employees, freelancers, or staff who frequently travel commonly use teleconferencing services to hold meetings. These meetings use telecom equipment, including phone services, video services, or messaging apps, allowing people to gather at a specific time for conversation. An individual can call a toll-free number to connect to a meeting or log in to an online portal to join the conversation.
Types of teleconferencing platforms can include:
Audio-only through a phone line or an internet connection.
Audio and video through an internet connection with audio-only available by phone.
Web conferencing, where only the presenter shows on-screen and all other attendees communicate through a messaging app.
Why is teleconferencing beneficial?
There are several benefits to using teleconferencing for holding meetings and other discussions, including:
Teleconferencing allows you to connect individuals from all over the world without travel or associated costs. As long as the person has an internet connection, they can attend a virtual meeting. This creates an opportunity for worldwide relationships among employees, clients, contractors, and vendors. In addition, having a connection around the globe can provide unique perspectives, diversity of experience, and open new markets for companies.
Using teleconference services dramatically increases the cost-effectiveness of meetings for companies. Instead of paying for flights, accommodation, meals, and other travel expenses to bring people into a central location, a company can use a virtual meeting to host everyone remotely. Meeting attendees typically use computers, tablets, or cell phones they already have to connect to the forum, meaning there is minimal equipment needed in most situations. The company may pay a service fee for a teleconferencing plan or require particular items, but the return on the investment pays for itself quickly.
More productive meetings
Typically, virtual meetings are more productive than traditional in-person conversations. During a teleconference meeting, presenters focus on the agenda topics, and someone often moderates the conversation to ensure attendees stay focused and respectful of time. Side discussions are minimal because it can be challenging to talk quietly to each other during the meeting like they can during an in-person conference. Teleconferencing eliminates most unnecessary conversation, allowing for an enhanced flow, more focus, and better productivity.
More efficient and environmentally friendly distribution
When a company uses teleconferencing, it can distribute information more efficiently and more environmentally friendly. Attendees in a virtual meeting can share video, audio, and presentations in real-time, allowing for the easy exchange of information. Many meeting organizers also record the session and distribute it afterwards to people who couldn't attend. Providing a virtual option for meetings also eliminates the need for travel or sending large documents by mail, supporting companies in lowering their carbon footprint.
How to have a successful teleconference meeting
When using teleconference technology to host a meeting, follow these 10 steps for a successful event:
1. Provide instructions for the meeting
When preparing for a teleconference meeting, you can benefit from providing clear instructions to the attendees. Instructions can include the date and time of the meeting, the objective and agenda of discussion, and how long you expect the meeting to last. For example, if you're using a videoconferencing service, provide the website link, log-in details, and explain who to contact in case of technical troubles. Providing this information to your attendees can improve the turn-up rate and make them feel more comfortable about what to expect during the meeting.
2. Test the application and internet connection in advance
If you're hosting the meeting, it's critical that you test the teleconferencing application and internet connection in advance. You can also prompt your attendees to do the same in their meeting invitations. Being prepared by double-checking that the technology works correctly can build your confidence and feel more prepared.
Testing your technology is especially important when hosting external guests, customers and clients, or many attendees. Advanced testing also respects your attendee's time and maximizes your time in the meeting with everyone. You may even consider having a representative from your IT department on hand in case of technical issues.
3. Use video whenever possible
It's best if you can use video in addition to audio services whenever possible. Having video allows meeting participants to make a better connection with others in attendance. Video also provides the opportunity to observe body language and other subtle cues, which account for more than half of effective communication.
Providing video encourages more interactive discussion and sharing of ideas while keeping people focused on the topic, instead of becoming distracted by what's happening from wherever they're attending. While not all meeting attendees may want to be on camera, but the presenter or speaker is usually on video. This also provides additional support to those with hearing impairment or other communication barriers.
4. Ensure everyone is visible
Another step to ensure a successful teleconference meeting is to ensure everyone is visible. For example, you can remind attendees to sit in a place with natural lighting or bright artificial light. You can also mention that attendees position webcams for the best placement and minimize distractions behind them if possible. At the beginning of the meeting, you can also reiterate this information. When everyone is visible, it creates a better connection between people for discussion and can minimize misunderstanding.
5. Offer an audio-only option
Although the preferred medium is video, you can also offer an audio-only option for those attendees without a webcam or slower internet connections. It's advisable to provide this option for those who need it to accommodate their situation when attending the meeting, such as individuals travelling or away from their desk. An audio-only option reduces the effectiveness of the meeting but can still allow people to take part.
6. Provide a clear agenda and objective
The next step to hosting a successful virtual meeting is providing a clear agenda and meeting objective. By identifying the purpose of the meeting before the conversation begins, you allow people to know precisely the reason for the meeting and what to expect going forward. Having a schedule outlined beforehand keeps the discussion on the topic to respect everyone's time and can maximize the quality of the conversation. It's even more effective if you can provide the objective and agenda before the meeting so that attendees can prepare any notes or questions for the discussion.
7. Keep presentations brief
If the meeting includes presentations by one or several people, keep them brief. People lose focus more quickly during virtual meetings than when attending in-person, and to combat this, you can provide a time limit for any formal presentations. Ensure you encourage active participation by asking questions and facilitating discussions to keep everyone's attention during the meeting.
8. Facilitate and moderate any discussion
Teleconference meetings can be more challenging to coordinate discussions than in-person meetings because not everyone may be visible and on camera. It's even more vital to facilitate and moderate any discussions that take place. For example, you can set aside time after each topic to moderate a conversation by asking for questions from attendees related to the issue and having the presenter respond. You can also facilitate a discussion by ensuring everyone speaks and expresses their opinion during the meeting. A moderator helps to encourage conversation, while a facilitator helps a group come to a decision.
Related: 65 Icebreaker Questions
9. Gather feedback after the meeting
After completing the teleconference meeting, you want to gather feedback from the attendees. You can ask specific questions to the participants about their thoughts, insights, or questions related to the meeting content. You can also get feedback about the technology you used and if they had any technical difficulties. This feedback is valuable for you to improve future teleconference meetings and agendas.
10. Provides meeting notes as a follow-up
An optional last step is providing meeting notes as a follow-up to all attendees. While most participants likely took their own notes during the meeting, many companies create meeting minutes for distribution and record the session. Offering the notes can help those attendees who may have had technical troubles or missed some conversations.
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