According to a recent study, more than 60% of employees have admitted to doing other work while on a conference call.
When handled correctly, an effective conference call is an efficient way to hold a meeting when team members are in different locations.
However, many business leaders do not know how to host effective conference calls. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to overhaul your conference call strategy and maximize your team’s productivity. Here are ten conference call tips to keep in mind before you host your next phone meeting.
- Before the meeting, send out an agenda with a clearly stated purpose and expectation for the outcome. A common mistake is to send the topic. Your team won’t be prepared without clearly defining the meeting’s mission.
- Send out any reading material beforehand and expect your team to read it. If you ever find yourself “catching everyone up” at the start of the meeting, you have wasted their time and squandered your effectiveness. Successful conference calls start strong and keep the momentum going.
- Know how to use the conference call software, including how to mute. You should be able to answer any questions if they come up. Otherwise, you will lose time looking up how to utilize certain features in the moment. I highly recommend that you use a high-quality video call solution like Zoom vs. the traditional audio telephone call.
- Leaders need to be on time. Too many executives arrive late, and everyone ends up waiting. That means you too—for effective conference calls, call organizers should never be late. It’s up to you to set the example for everyone else to follow.
- Effective conference calls have rules. Cell phones should be silenced, laptops off, and background noises managed. Participants should know how to mute themselves while others are speaking. Hearing the clacking keyboard of one attendee tells everyone else that it’s OK to multitask while you talk.
- Manage the pace of the call. The first topic is always the time-eater—everyone wants to be heard on the first topic. Stay in control and manage the timing. Encourage participants to write down any additional thoughts they might have about an issue and send them to you after the meeting, then move on.
- Make the call interactive. Asking for frequent input ensures that your participants stay on their toes and keeps minds from wandering (including your own.) Effective conference calls aren’t just one person talking the entire time.
- If possible, record the call to make available for future listening. This is especially helpful if not all participants can make it, but also allows everyone to go back and reference the meeting in the future. Be sure all participants are aware that they are being recorded.
- Avoid any ambiguity about the resolution and the action items from the call. Effective conference calls are about execution. Insist on next steps, personal accountability, and action.
- Keep it short and sweet. As I’ve mentioned in a previous article, people tend to lose focus before the 20-minute mark of any meeting. Limit your conference call to 45 minutes maximum to get the most out of your participants.
Hosting effective conference calls can take some trial and error. Click on my contact form to schedule a free one-on-one call with me, and I’ll help you work out a plan for powerful video conference calls.