Conference calls have been a staple in the office environment for decades. It’s one cost effective way of bringing remote workers into an otherwise closed off conversation. There are many benefits to a conference call, but it has a lot going against it as well. Since the format of a conference call, when you’re outside of the office, is so convenient some people treat the call a bit too casually. All of a sudden the mute button is all but forgotten, it’s time for lunch, or the kids are screaming in the background. None of these scenarios are professional, and they should not be an excuse for interrupting the call. In order to keep things in line there are a few steps you can take to make things go a little more smoothly.
Have an Agenda
Make sure an agenda has been sent out through the meeting request and through email to all participants. If there are any presentation materials, like powerpoint, don’t forget to include those as well. Try to share the visual aids in advance so the people phoning in can get a jump start on reviewing the material.
The messaging should be concise in the materials and agenda as well. Don’t start a meeting with a dozen items to review in an hour. The people on the phone will zone out, and no doubt the voice of the speaker will start to sound like elevator music.
Be sure to mix up who is speaking. Even if you’re running the call you should call on the phone participants to share their thoughts or questions. If nobody wants to contribute then bring them into the conversation by mentioning a recent project they worked on, and ask them to share a little background on where it’s headed. Giving people kudos in this kind of setting can go a long way.
One of the final things to enhance a conference call is recording it. Most calls are not recorded and it requires someone to scribble down notes while everyone is talking back and forth. Eliminate this extra step by recording the call. There are numerous services out there, some of them free like freeconferencecall.com, that are used for just this purpose. Once the call is complete send the recording link to participants. This way if anybody zoned out or couldn’t make it they still have access to everything that was talked about.
Make each meeting put on the books worthwhile. These tips are just a few ways of enhancing what could potentially be a time suck. Keep an open mind in meetings you’re invited to, and always strive to enhance the experience instead of detracting from it.
Ready When You Are
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