Steps to Improve Your Conference Calls
Dreading your next conference call? Do they always seem chaotic? Are they unorganized? Does it feel like no one is in charge?
It’s time to improve your conference calls. If you spend time before and on your call time more efficiently, your colleagues and clients are more likely to find value in the call. Then they will participate more, and attend more frequently. That’s a win-win.
All it takes is a little preparation and organization for conference calls that can be enjoyable and drive progress.
7 tips for your best conference call:
1. Create an agenda
Don’t allow any of your callers to enter the meeting blindly. Write up a clear meeting agenda. Include who will be speaking and what topic they are responsible for. Also, include any preparation that you need your participants to complete before the meeting. That way, everyone will come prepared and will be more likely to spend their time efficiently. You can also limit people talking over one another if they know whose turn it is to speak.
“Take five minutes before every call and task to decide what result you want to attain. This will help you know what success looks like before you start.”-Joe Mathews, Don Debolt and Deb Percival, Entrepreneur
2. Set a time limit
Consider how long you call needs to be – and stick to that limit. If your guests know that they only have 20 minutes to get things done, they will be more likely to stay on track. A time limit will reduce side conversation and tangents. If necessary, assign a timekeeper to ensure everyone stays on track.
3. Provide accurate dial-in information
I’d venture a guess that a large percentage of conference calls are delayed because guests are confused about dial-in information. Send clear, step-by-step instructions for connecting to the call and include all dial-in numbers. Using a calendar integration is a great way to decrease human error. Test your conference line yourself before you send out information to make sure your call line will work during your meeting.
4. Mute callers as needed
Limit background noise distractions by taking control and muting callers if you need to. This feature will help you stay on track and make the most of your call time. You can even activate “Lecture Mode” during your call so that only the host and guest speakers have speaking rights.
5. Ask for questions in advance
Can you streamline your meeting by asking for questions in advance? This move may be appropriate in certain situations and can help you address everyone’s concerns quickly or in the main presentation itself. This is also a great way to prepare for a Q&A session held at the end of the conference call.
6. Add screen sharing
Try adding screen sharing to bring a visual element to your meeting. Screen sharing is perfect for sharing presentations, videos, documents and any other media you have on your desktop. It can help you get on the same page faster.
7. Outline clear next steps
The conference call will be a waste of time unless you agree on next steps. Who’s responsible for what before the next meeting? Any deliverables and deadlines you need to outline? Make sure you lay these out for everyone at the end so you can keep productivity up.
Remember to arrive prepared and stay on topic for the most effective conference meetings. Your guests will thank you.