No one likes conference calls, but why is that? It’s as if a dislike of conference calling is built in to our DNA, but funnily enough, we still carry on having them. What a crazy world we live in!
When it comes down to it, the problem with conference calling isn’t so much the technology, but us and how we interact (badly) via conference calls.
Here’s 5 ways you can ease your way in to liking conference calls… or, at least not hating them as much!
#1 – Come prepared.
If you’re the one arranging the call, don’t just invite people to the call with a time and date – set an agenda and make sure you also distribute this information way before the meeting begins. Highlight to individuals any particular action points or areas they need to discuss in further detail while on call.
Why do this? It will help keep the focus of the call and reduce wasted time in trying to create a conference call story-line, while on the call. Besides, it doesn’t come across very professional if you don’t take control of the call.
#2 – Make it easy for people to join the call.
IF everyone is in the same country and/or timezone as you then the first point isn’t a problem, but if you have multiple people in multiple countries, it would be best to also convert the conference call start time for their local timezone, as well as provide them with country specific dial-in numbers to enable to cost of the call to stay low.
#3 – Don’t give latecomers an excuse to interrupt.
Latecomers are the pain in the backside to many a person that is heading a conference call. There’s nothing worse than when you’re mid-flow of discussing a pertinent point to then be interrupted by a latecomer to the call. It doesn’t matter if it’s 3 minutes or 10 minutes late – being late is poor form from the individual, but also bad news for you; distracting from current conversation, having to go over old ground and wasted time.
#4 – Allow everyone to speak.
There’s a few ‘types’ of people when it comes to a conference call. You have:
a) Those that can talk for England
b) Those that “hmmm” and “arrhh” their way through
c) Those that might as well be dead. You wouldn’t know the difference.
How do we get around this? Keeping to the agenda is a good start. And when you notice someone hasn’t interjected for a while, as that specific person (if it makes sense to do so) to give their thoughts on what had just been discussed. This way, it keeps everyone with their ears pricked up, as no one wants to be caught out sleeping if there’s a chance a question could come their way soon.
#5 – Post call follow-up.
Great, the call is complete and everyone can go back to relaxing and not having to closely follow a conversation. But wait, what about those that were not present and are you sure that everyone came away from the meeting with important takeaways and actions to complete?
Always ensure someone takes notes. It doesn’t matter if the note taking takes place while on call or after it (listening to a recording), the final hurdle to you to jump is to ensure the call wasn’t a waste of time, so you better type up those those and disburse far and wide to all involved to ensure actions are followed and everyone else is up to date with what’s happening.
See, that wasn’t so hard, was it? Start enjoying conference calls, get more done, be more methodical and close the call sooner. Job done!