Just because your meeting isn’t face-to-face doesn’t mean it can’t be effective. Conference calls are a good way of getting business done when you aren’t in the same room or even in the same country. Planning ahead is key to ensure your time is well spent. These 5 tips will help you make the most of your next call.
1. Begin with the basics
- Confirm participation prior to the call and verify that everyone has correct dial in instructions.
- Log onto the call a few minutes early so you can greet participants as they dial in.
- Know who is on the call, and how they want to be addressed. State everyone’s name and role clearly.
- Place speakers around the room appropriately if some call participants are onsite.
- Get housekeeping matters out of the way quickly. For example, ask participants to put phones on mute when they aren’t speaking.
2. Review the agenda
Ideally, this would have been distributed prior to the call. You should also have distributed any relevant reading materials, charts, or graphs. Conference calls are more effective when everyone knows what to expect and understands the goals for the call. Review your goals after a brief check in or any introductions. Keep participant email addresses handy, just in case you have to resend materials during the call for any reason.
3. Plan for glitches
Don’t be panicked by dropped calls…it happens. Remind everyone to keep the dial in number close at hand. When callers rejoin the conference, give a brief recap of what was missed if possible.
4. Use silence as a tool
Silence seems more painful on a conference call than during in person meetings. It needn’t be. Participants can use time to process information, so don’t be afraid to allow it. You may even consider using encouraging language such as, “Let’s take a few moments to consider this point.”
5. Manage the flow of conversation
Monitor sharing among participants. Gently encourage everyone to participate and share the time. Look for ways to solicit input from the silent without putting them on the spot, and you’ll need to redirect over talkers so they don’t monopolize the call. Phrases such as, “That is a good point, let’s come back to it” or “Thanks for sharing, Jill” to signal that the speaker no longer has the floor.
Conference calls can be an effective way to get business done while saving time and travel. Manage the call well to turn a mere phone call into a productivity boosting tool.