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What To Use When

Meeting's purpose drives technology selection.

Ray Britt, vice president and chief marketing officer for InterCall Inc., Chicago, suggests determining the purpose of a meeting before choosing a technology. He suggests:

  • Videoconferencing: For two people to midsized groups. Used when body language is an important element of a meeting, such as presenting performance data to a superior. Britt says videoconferencing might not be right for every meeting, but there are times when it is appropriate.
  • Web conferencing: From two people to groups in the thousands. Allows users to simultaneously view something, such as a sales presentation in Microsoft PowerPoint or a product drawing. Interaction takes place via messaging or a simultaneous phone teleconference. A variety of other communication tools such as online polls, whiteboards or question-and-answer boards may be used. Some examples of uses: to educate staff members about a new product line or technology; to amplify a meeting with investors; to walk a perspective client though an introductory presentation.
  • Reservationless teleconference: Companies or individuals reserve a single, permanent phone number for teleconferencing. At a moment's notice, participants can simply dial that number and be part of a teleconference. Britt says this is a great way to have quick, short, informal meetings among team members.
  • Operator-assisted teleconference: Slightly more formal than reservationless, this teleconference involves an operator greeting and introducing participants as they join in. This may be used for a monthly all-hands department meeting or collaboration with a client on a project.
  • "Big event" teleconferencing: Large, more formal teleconferences that could involve a large company communicating to all of its employees for an annual meeting or to an outside group such as investors, journalists or other members of the public. Often, professional moderators or operators are used.
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