Let's look at some of the points you need to consider when planning audio Web conferencing, using one of the examples discussed previously; the one in which you're the leader of a sales team that is spread out across the country.
In this case, you need to bring your staff up to speed on a new product. This means you'll have to talk to them and make it possible for them to ask questions, either through audio means, such as by speakerphone or a microphone connected to their computer, or via e-mail. You estimate it will take about an hour to do this, but you also know your team. In some cases, discussions tend to extend the meeting. Given the importance of this new product rollout, you want to make sure your staff is fully versed. In seeking a host for this Internet audio event, you'll want to build in flexibility to the length of time you may need to do the audio conferencing.
You also should consider the technology platforms your team uses. Some work out of branch offices, where they use your company's standard desktop set-up. But a few work out of their homes. You'll want to make sure they aren't shut-out because of any technical incompatibility issues. A handful of them use only wireless technology, such as PDAs or BlackBerry devices.
Of course, all of these issues must fit within your budget for such events. Can you get by with a plain-Jane approach or will you need some extra features? Should you pay for one-time service or will you be doing this often enough to buy a year's worth? After doing some research, you decide you can get by with a fairly modest set-up, but you'd like to find out what it might cost for a series of such conferences. If this works out well, you can save yourself and your staff time and save your company the cost of flying you and them to meetings.
You do some research on the Web and it turns out you find at least a dozen companies that do audio business conferencing that look promising.
On the next page, we'll talk about using audio host services.