A well-organized a purposeful conference call can do wonders for an organization. Information is passed more easily and understandably, and participants won’t be stuck waiting for you to get your materials in order. Here are some tips for always having flawless conference calls, so you can maximize the effectiveness of every meeting.
Stay Organized With an Agenda
Every meeting, conference call, or seminar/event should have an agenda of some sort. This is the simplest way to keep the event organized and on track. An agenda can be as simple as a hand-written schedule or as complex as a fully-detailed itinerary. Whatever the case may be, even your conference calls should have an agenda.
An agenda should have the time and date of the call, a guest list, the phone number or online conference site listing, as well as topics of conversation. A detailed agenda is always preferable to a vague one, as you’ll likely encounter questions or comments about the material being presented.
During your call, you’ll want to stick to the agenda as much as possible and remind everyone that you only have a limited amount of time to get through the agenda. Tracking time with an app or a timer is a good way to ensure that each subject is covered appropriately and that the call remains on track to finish on time.
Provide Crystal Clear Audio/Video
Having a good connection for your web conferencing tool or phone is essential to a good conference call. Be sure that your internet and phone connection can handle the bandwidth required for multiple-caller situations. The last thing you want to happen during an important call is a loss of connection! Using only professional conference calling services will ensure you’re getting the best possible quality on both audio and video feeds.
If you choose to have your conference call online, be sure everyone has the capability to join the call. Most online conference rooms will provide both a link and a phone number for callers to join with; making the conference call that much more accessible for everyone in attendance.
Bad connections will not only impede the call’s progress, but it will also leave the attendees feeling less confident about your ability to run a smooth call. Be sure you have a good connection and use only the best web conferencing tools when setting up internet-based calls.
Be Courteous and Professional
A conference call is no place for unprofessionalism in the form of slang, cursing, or other behaviors that may be viewed in an unprofessional way. Keeping your calls as professional as an in-person meeting will ensure that everyone feels respected and the call goes as planned.
Additionally, it’s important to remember not to talk out of turn, and to state your name if you’re talking to new people. Talking over someone else is incredibly rude and disrespectful, and most people don’t take very kindly to being trampled in that way. If you’re trying to act professionally, wait your turn to speak. If you have something to say about a comment or question another caller made, save it for when they’re done speaking.
If you’re working with new clients or team members, be sure to introduce them by name and title to the group, so everyone becomes familiar with who they’re talking to. Without a video feed, conference calls can become quite confusing with new attendees. Keep everyone informed by performing introductions at the beginning of the call and having new callers state their name before they speak.
Reduce Background Noise
Whether you’re at the office or in the comfort of your own home, background noise is just a fact of life; but excessive background noise can be distracting and, well, downright irritating given the right intensity. Have you ever tried to have a productive phone call with a lawnmower or dog barking in the background? You probably had to go to a different room or hang up altogether until the noise ceased.
It’s important to be aware of your background noise during your conference call. If you’re in a noisy space, become familiar with your mute button so the other callers don’t have to suffer the distorted sound of background noise coming through their headsets. Reducing background noise will keep everyone happy and the call on track.
Invite the Right People
Last but certainly not least, you need to invite the right people to your calls. Only invite the people who absolutely, positively must attend. Anyone else can easily be caught up via email or a quick in-person chat. The more people you invite to a conference call, the easier it is for the call to become derailed and confusing.
Keep your guest list tight. Consider who truly has any knowledge or valuable input on the discussion at hand. Does Greg from IT really need to be at the quarterly sales meeting? Probably not. An email will likely get the same results, without Greg there to bring up last night’s home team loss as a side conversation.
Conference calls are just meetings without the conference room and should be treated with the same level of professionalism and courtesy that’s awarded to in-person events. Keep your background noise to a minimum, keep your speech professional, and make sure you’ve got a good connection so the call isn’t dropped during an important discussion.