Conference calls are a great way to engage in conversation with multiple participants. This is extremely useful for businesses with clients and contacts located too far away to arrange a face-to-face meeting. If you are in a fast-paced project environment conference calls can help to iron out multiple issues in one conversation.
Pre-establish conference goals
If you are facilitating a conference call it is very important to create an agenda that is circulated to all members of the conference call. This provides the basis of discussion and ensures you do not deviate from the main purpose of the call. It is also important to pre-establish any answers or solutions you may require and avoid having to make a second call at a later date to tie up loose ends.
Conference call etiquette
There is a certain etiquette to abide when facilitating or sitting in on a conference call. Try your best to begin the call on time or early, if possible. Begin with a roll call to establish who is attending the discussion, introducing each attendee by their name, company and role or reason for being included in the call.
As there are no visual aids with a conference call it is very difficult to know when the current speaker is finished. Participants should always wait until the speaker is finished before speaking. Interrupt only if it is truly necessary.
A good etiquette practice for many businesses to get into is to mute the call while other participants are speaking. Minimise distracting activities such as paper shuffling, chair squeaking and mobile phone calls that can break the focus of attendees.
Getting the message across
In order to get the right message across it is important to limit the number of attendees to your conference call. It is possible to invite too many to a call as this encourages more people to sit by their phone and say nothing. You should also be aware that the current global business climate means that English may not be the primary language of all your associates. If this is the case it is important to talk with clarity ensuring your callers are able to digest what is being asked of them.
This tip invariably applies to all callers – do your best to minimise distractions on the line by finding a quiet room for your discussion. Speakerphones have the capability to pick up significant background noise and this can be particularly awkward and frustrating in the middle of an open office. While this may seem like common sense, some callers do not consider the interference caused to other associates on the line and its tendency to divert attention from the agenda. Be sure to summarise and recap at the conclusion of your conference call and take not of issues for action to report back to your team.