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Teleconferencing

Organizations need communication to work. Communication is said to be the life source of an organization because its main components are people. Communication may take into many forms: verbal, physical, or technological. Internal organizational communication is defined to be a communication that takes place within (internal) the organization. Examples of this are the use of telephones, fax machines, mail, and even technological advances like the intranet. Internal communication is an important component in an organization. One of the most important technological advancements in the internal organizational communication is teleconferencing. In this paper, teleconferencing will be discussed.

Teleconferencing is an interactive group communication (three or more people in several different locations) that involves an electronic medium (Carroll cited by Rogan and Simons, n.d.). It is the use of communications network technology to connect participant’s voices. It is a live exchange and mass articulation of information of several persons and machines that are remote from each other. There are three basic types of teleconferencing:

(1) Video conferencing-television-like communication augmented with sound.

(2) Computer conferencing-printed communication through keyboard terminals.

(3) Audio-conferencing -verbal communication via the telephone with optional capacity for telewriting or telecopying (Sonneville cited by Rogan and Simons, n.d.).

In some states, teleconferencing is a basic communication technique. There are many advantages and disadvantages of this type of organizational communication.

There are many advantages of teleconferencing that make it a very suitable method for internal organizational communication. One of the major advantages of teleconferencing is that it reduces the price of organizational meetings. It was reported that there was a decrease in the national business travel costs by 30 percent. It reduces communication costs. Other than saving of money as a big advantage to teleconferencing, the following are also some of the advantages: (1) people who cannot normally attend a conference because of the distance in the location will be able to participate because of the use of teleconferencing. (2) If conferences and meetings have follow-ups, it will be easily done and with lesser costs. (3) Socialization in a normal meeting will be avoided. Furthermore, the meetings will be shorter and will be more goal-oriented because of the limitations that the teleconference suggests. (4) Some routine meetings will be done with ease and with more effectively because one person can join wherever his location is as long as he has a telephone. (5) Communications between the main office and employees that are very distant apart will be possible. (6) During unavoidable circumstances such as severe weather conditions, teleconferencing makes it possible for meetings to be done. (7) Participants have more time to prepare because teleconferencing lessens the time for traveling, thus there is more time for preparations. (8) It is more convenient for simple problem solving, exchanges of information and procedural tasks. (9) Participants participate more equally because there is a time limit applied to each member (Rogan and Simons, n.d.). If there are advantages, there are also disadvantages.

Some of the disadvantages of teleconferencing are: (1) Technical problems and difficulties may arise and are not anticipated. (2) Negotiation or bargaining, unsatisfactory for complex communication is possible. (3)  The atmosphere is mostly impersonal and creates a difficulty in creating group rapport. (4) For first time users, lack of familiarity to the teleconferencing machines and directions will create an atmosphere of ambiguity. (5) Acoustic problems within the room will arise. (6) Organization of the order of the speakers will be difficult. Some may monopolize air time. (7) When greater preparations are required, greater preparation time will also arise. (8) Informal, and one-to-one transactions are not possible (Rogan and Simons, n.d.). These are some of the disadvantages in using teleconferencing in meetings.

Teleconferencing entails different answers to the what, why, how, when, and who. It broadens the participation of any person because of the wide geographical limits of the system. People who may lead the teleconference are: a trained facilitator, moderator, or group leader and also, community people can participate. However, it also costs variably according to the application. Generally, the principal costs of teleconferencing are in the equipments and facilities.

Another important issue about teleconferencing is that it can be used with other techniques. Examples are:

(1)   It is part of a comprehensive public involvement strategy.

(2) Its participants can serve as a community advisory committee or task force meeting.

 (3) It is a method for taking surveys of neighborhood organizations.

(4) It is used in both planning and project development (Rogan and Simons, n.d.).

There are also special uses of teleconferencing which includes:

(1)   It is useful when an issue is State- or regionwide.

(2)   It helps increase the number of participants.

(3)   It is used for training.

(4)   It is used for networking among transportation professionals on public involvement and other topics (Rogan and Simons, n.d.).

Teleconferencing is a very effective way of communication for industries that are nationwide or even global in range. For example, forest monitoring industries worldwide that aims to protect forest from illegal logging and other illegal activities. An internal organizational communication such as teleconferencing is a very helpful tool to achieve their goals smoothly because communication is not a hassle. The organization can communicate thoroughly without the expense of having to go to that station or location just to check what is happening there.

According to a 2009 conducted statistics in a forest service implementation of teleconferencing in the US, there are 512 units of video teleconferencing systems that were acquired.  It was reported that in the end of 2008, $5.6 million approximately was saved in the costs of communication (Video Teleconferencing Statistics, 2009). Actual limitations are described. There were hardware limitations that occurred, which prevented hosting meetings from over 19 offices. Currently, there was no border controller that enabled the service to conduct outside locations meetings (Video Teleconferencing Statistics, 2009).

There were 3 major points that was proposed by the Forest Service for the implementation of the video teleconferencing technology:

(1)   Encouraging the units to implement video technology through to the District Office level in all Regions.

(2)   Expanding video use to include audio-only connections and interactions with external partners.

(3)   Evaluate the performance of our internal architecture and assess where the technology and its dependencies merit additional expansion or enhancement.

These are evidences that teleconferencing is really a very helpful and efficient way of communicating with distant parts of the organization. Understanding that from a report that a forest service communication uses such kinds of internal organizational communication suggests that teleconferencing is indeed a very efficient way of communication.

According to recent studies, teleconferencing is a technique that is very useful and effective when participants have difficulties in attending an important event. Also, “Teleconferencing is effective when it focuses on specific action items that deserve comment. Teleconferences aid in prioritizing issues and discussing immediate action items. Detailed, wide-ranging discussions may be more properly handled with written materials and in-person interaction.” (Rogan and Simons, n.d.). Lastly, teleconferencing helps give all participants an equal footing in planning and project development. These are the most effective ways of using teleconferencing.

Teleconferencing is a very important communicating tool for Forest Monitoring Services Industries knowing that forests are very vast lands that needed to be taken care of. Teleconferencing is a very effective way of internal organizational communication especially when distance is a hindrance or other problems arise. It is a very efficient way of organizational communication.

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