Conference calls have the power to be an incredible tool for businesses hoping to hold meetings remotely, but can easily be more trouble than they’re worth. As most conference calls are notorious for being disruptive, difficult to listen to, and wholly unproductive, any business owner hoping to use conference calls to their advantage should reconsider their approach to using this tool. Read on for 11 tips to guarantee a seamless conference call:
11 Tips for a Successful Conference Call
1. Choose Someone to Lead the Call
Conference calls are significantly more successful with someone in charge of them. This individual should be assigned their role ahead of time so they are able to proactively develop an agenda for the meeting, introducing others on the call, asking each individual for their responses, and making sure all participants stay on topic.
The best person to lead the meeting is oftentimes the person that called the meeting initially or the person that is the most knowledgeable of the subject at hand. While all participants of the conversation will likely be as qualified to speak, meetings need a leader in order to function properly.
2. Have an Agenda in Place
The agenda is another important and essential part of a successful conference call. Though conference calls occur on the phone, they needn’t lack the same structure of a typical business meeting. Make sure everyone involved in the conference call can follow along by giving them an agenda prior to the call.
Whether this agenda is emailed out days in advance or sent at the start of the conference call, it will give all callers a sense of what’s going on in the meeting. This agenda should include topics that will be discussed, any relevant upcoming projects, and related questions. As the meeting progresses, all participants can follow along to the schedule.
3. Make Sure All Individuals Have Access to the Call
Putting a conference call together is simpler than ever these days as there is a wide variety of dedicated technology to make these calls as seamless as possible. Services like conference bridge lines make it easy for each person to get onto the call as well. However, in order for other participants to join the call, they need to have the right call-in numbers, links, or passcodes to do so. Additionally, if any new software is involved, the person heading the meeting should go ahead and test it out before the meeting begins.
Ideally, every member of the phone conference will have a week or more to add this phone conference to their schedule. To make sure every participant shows up to the phone call, it is a good idea to send a reminder email or text the day of so they don’t miss the meeting or log in late.
4. Choose a Quiet Background
Quiet backgrounds may be hard to come by in some workplaces, but they are an absolute must for conference calls. Though most people do hold conference calls from remote locations like coffee shops and their home offices, it’s important to try to find a space with minimal background noise. While some noises like a fan or air conditioner may seem like part of the white noise, on a conference call, these sounds can be amplified. When possible, try to host a conference call from an area that is completely silent.
5. Log on Early
The host of the conference call should always be the first one to log onto the conference call. Even attendees should sign in to the call before the start time of the call.
This is especially important to make sure the passcode or number works properly. While certain circumstances can’t be avoided, it’s least disruptive to start the meeting with all parties already on the line of they’ve already logged on early.
6. Start Meetings on Time
Another tip to guarantee a successful conference call is to always start the meeting at the scheduled time. In the event that all participants haven’t logged on, the conference call must start anyway. Just like a business meeting in the real world, conference calls should never be started later than the scheduled time.
7. Pay Attention to Others
It’s easy to want to multitask during a conference call. Whether it’s a few open tabs here or there or looking at emails at the same time, any attempt to multitask during the conference call will only be a distraction. Even if the topic of conversation doesn’t pertain to each individual during the conference, every person has to pay attention at all times.
8. Discourage Open Discourse
While meetings should be open to discussion, phone conferences have a way of getting out of hand if everyone talks at the same time. When it’s time for certain participants to speak, the person leading the conference call should address them directly. This should continue for the rest of the meeting so everyone has a chance to speak their mind without having to talk over someone else.
9. Use Mute Wisely
Mute is a powerful tool when in a conference call. As only one person will be speaking at a time, all other participants in the call should have their mute on if they’re not talking. This is especially important if the background is excessively noisy.
10. Take Notes or Record the Meeting
Another great advantage of being on a conference call is that many of the popular services make it easy to record these calls. This makes reviewing all that was discussed in the meetings particularly easy. Conference call participants that want to be quite sure they’ve captured all the pertinent details can also write or type their notes throughout the course of the meeting.
11. Always Follow up After the Call
Following up after conference calls is an important part of conference call etiquette. These follow-ups can be done through email or in person. This follows up serves to remind participants what was discussed in the meeting and to ask for their final thoughts.
Don’t let conference calls get out of control. Make sure each upcoming conference call is a success by applying these tips when on the line with others.