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How to Run a Conference Call Like a Seasoned Pro

Jessica WeissJessica Weiss

How to start a conference call

Follow These Steps to Boost Your Conference Call Presentation

So, it’s time to start your 100-person conference call when suddenly you freeze up. You mumble a few words and then… silence. No one knows what to do, and the speaker doesn’t begin their presentation. You try to take questions, but you can’t hear anyone…

Then – you wake up. It was just a bad dream!

The good news is that with the right preparation and tools, you can handle any important call like a highly-trained operator and avoid any nightmare-inducing situations.

Master each part of your call and you’ll be able to run a professional-level meeting every time.

How to Start a Conference Call

Begin your call on the right foot with an organized, concise opening. Some of our favorite tried-and-true introductions include:

Welcome to the CALL TITLE/PROGRAM TITLE. I want to welcome CUSTOMER NAME’s president, LEAD SPEAKER, who has several updates on the TOPIC. Also joining us today will be PANELIST NAME 1, and PANELIST NAME 2.  We will hold a question and answer period at the end of the LEAD SPEAKER’s remarks, at which time you may dial * and 5 on your touchtone phone to ask a question. LEAD SPEAKER, welcome to the program.

-OR-

Good day, everyone, and welcome to today’s CALL TITLE/PROGRAM TITLE. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later on you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions during the question and answer period. You may register to ask a question at any time by pressing the * and 5 on your touchtone phone. You may withdraw yourself from the queue by pressing the # key. Please note, this call may be recorded. I will be standing by should you need any assistance. It’s now my pleasure to turn today’s program over to LEAD SPEAKER. Please go ahead.  

Make sure to customize your introduction for your audience so everyone can get on the same page quickly.

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Helpful Tips

  1. If there’s a web component to the presentation, it’s useful to have a “housekeeping” slide that explains the basic format of the web presentations and how to get support if needed.  Many attendees may not understand how to listen and what to look at in a web meeting, so an explanatory slide may reduce confusion.
  2. If you have any legal disclosures to make, now is the time.  A safe harbor statement, guidance about recording the call, or your privacy policy – now is probably the time to disclose any of this type of information.  A safe harbor statement usually reads something like this:

Before we begin the call today, I would like to remind you that forward-looking statements made during today’s conference call do not account for future economic circumstances, industry conditions, and company performance and financial results. These statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties. 

Dig into the Main Presentation

After that, the speaker will delve into whatever topic they have prepared.  The key here is to allow the speaker to present their content in a way that the audience finds engaging from a remote setting.  A few things to do along the way to engage the audience:

It’s worth providing anything that helps a person at their desk by themselves feel engaged in a virtual event.  Everyone’s guilty of multitasking during a presentation, and attendees really struggle (or don’t) to stay with the presentation in a meaningful way.

Managing Conference Call Q&A

Many virtual events feature a Question & Answer session to further engage their participants.

Here’s one way to begin a Q&A session:

At this time, if you’d like to ask a questions, please press the * and 1 on your touchtone telephone. You may withdraw your question at any time by pressing the # key. Once again, to ask a question, please press the * and 1 on your touchtone telephone. We’ll take our first question from ATTENDEE NAME AND LOCATION. Please, go ahead. 

It’s helpful to plan ahead for some variables when hosting a Q&A.  What happens if an attendee has a follow up question?  Will you take it?  Or limit it to just one question per attendee?

Also, if you run out of time to address attendee questions, it’s helpful to assess who remains in the queue and let them know you’ll answer their questions offline at their convenience.

Additionally, there may be attendees whom you decide NOT to allow questions from during the call.  Make sure to have a list of such attendees ready during the Q&A so you can remove them from the queue gracefully.

Closing the Conference Call Effectively

Once you’ve run through your program and question session, it’s time to wrap up the call in style. Make sure to provide attendees any relevant follow-up information and conclude with a strong call to action if relevant.

Some closing examples include:

Once your call ends, it’s often useful to send a follow-up email with relevant information and a feedback survey. That way you’ll know what your attendees responded to – and what they didn’t – to improve your conference call sessions every time for maximum results!

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Jess is Vast Conference's Marketing & Communications Manager. Reach out on Twitter @jweiss44.

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