With so many businesses having facilities in far flung locations and with more and more employees working at home these days, teleconferencing has become an effective, rational way to conduct group meetings without the expense and disruption of gathering staff members in a central location. Consequently, improved technology and the economic imperative of businesses to reduce expenses have been responsible for the broader use of teleconferencing telephone systems that we have witnessed in recent years.
Polycom Conference Telephone
Examining the benefits of teleconferencing may well be a timely exercise for your business. Teleconferencing is an efficient way of assembling any number of people to communicate interactively by telephone. Typically, in a business setting, the purposes of such conference calls are management or sales meetings to discuss operational developments, to introduce new products or procedures, to train staff, or for periodic progress reports on important projects. Participating in a conference call ordinarily requires that attendees dial a designated number and enter a log-in or PIN in order to connect to the call by way of a conference bridge. A conference bridge is a server that can accommodate multiple calls simultaneously, which makes dialing in easier when a call involves a large number of participants. Depending on the size of the business, a company may deploy its own bridge or utilize a service provider to host conference calls. The use of a log-in or PIN ensures confidentiality and protects proprietary information from being divulged during a teleconference.
Communication on a teleconferencing system is two-way, so that everyone on a call can participate. A note of caution here: if the meeting is not well managed, chaos can result if participants talk over each other, and the advantages of teleconferencing can thus be lost. To avoid this problem, it is best to have a set of decorum rules in place prior to starting a call.
In terms of deployment of conference phones, they can be either wired or wireless to meet the particular needs of users and depending on the facility where staff members convene for the call. A teleconferencing host can provide an operator to assist callers. Hosting companies may charge set-up and reservation fees for their services. Typical features may include roll-call, muting, attendance count, name introductions and an audio tone to announce the addition of new participants. The host can also record the meeting to give management a permanent history of the call and produce post-meeting reports and surveys.
Leading manufacturers of teleconferencing phones include Avaya, Cisco and Polycom. These companies offer an array of phones with a host of features.
Here, then, are the advantages of teleconferencing:
1. reduces travel and accommodation costs; 2. saves time; 3. eliminates or reduces the risk of weather-related travel delays; 4. allows for the prompt convening of urgent meetings; and 5. the interaction of staff members enhances the coordination of activities across the enterprise
And here are some of the disadvantages:
1. face-to-face meetings are more controllable and make it easier to assess the contributions and attitudes of participants; 2. the risk of equipment failure; and 3. audio quality can vary.
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