Due to convenience and cost-effectivity, conference calls have become a daily part of every business routine. And while attending one does not demand a lot of effort from you as a participant, there are a few guidelines that can essentially help you as a participant during a conference call. Although managing a conference call does entail more responsibility on your end with a lot of planning, preparing, and organization under your care.
But really, how can you possibly manage people that you don’t even see?
You have to consider non-verbal cues, external noises, and technical issues.
You wouldn’t appreciate going in a call where the background noise mostly drowns out the conversation, right? The same goes for your participants. Before anything else, be sure that you are situated in a conducive place where you can clearly hear people on the phone and they can for you too. Apart from the environment, there are also common conference call mistakes that can be easily avoided if taken into account ahead of time.
You can’t just schedule a call and not have specific goals in mind. Even if the call is done on a weekly basis, it is important for you to establish a clear goal every time. What do you hope to achieve after the call, in the days and weeks after that? Let your participants know because it requires team effort to achieve these goals.
Even before scheduling the call, you must list down the key discussion points that you wish to raise and accomplish by the end of the call. And for there to have an open discussion afterwards, it is important that you share the agenda with your participants ahead of time so they can go through it and be able to contribute later on. It can be about the progress of an ongoing project, the stats of social media and blog posts, or the current count of webinar attendees.
Ran through your presentation several times to make sure nothing is amiss and all the information, statistics, images and infographic are accurate and cohesive. Try screen sharing it through another company computer and see if it works appropriately.
Keep in mind that everybody else is working on their own projects, completing their own tasks, meeting their own deadlines so the least you can do is to start and end the conference call on time. This is to show that you value and respect their time.
Have the participants introduce themselves as they join in on the call. This is to give you and everyone else an idea on who’s present at the call and in order to match the voices to their names.
Before you go to the meeting proper and discuss the agenda, you must start by setting your expectations. Encourage them to speak up and assure them that everyone deserves to be heard or that no idea is too ridiculous. Allow them to feel comfortable in sharing and contributing later on.
When everyone gets too comfortable during the call and someone starts talking about the new trick their dog learned, it is possible to lose track of the key discussion points. This may urge others to also share personal stories that can distract everyone away from the agenda. Remember that you can always cut through it politely and get everyone back on track accordingly.
After everyone has contributed an idea, a solution, or any kind of suggestion that has been discussed thoroughly, there should be an agreement on which steps are to be taken afterwards. Everyone should leave the call knowing they were able to accomplish the agenda and that they have an action plan to work into later on.
Conference calls are usually recorded and documented for reference. To make it easier for you to distribute a summary of what went on with the call, have the recording transcribed and summarized for you and the team. Make sure that you take note of these four things as soon as you end a conference call too.
In the end, regardless if you’re the participant or the host, a conference call’s success is still determined by the team’s willingness to collaborate and exert effort to accomplish its goals.