26 May 2017 5 Tips to Improve your Conference Calls
Content provided by CounterPath
If you have ever been on a conference call, you have experienced the pain first-hand. The awkward silence, the forced small talk about the weather or other trivial topic just to fill the void. And that is all before the call even begins.
Once you are down to business, the lack of face-to-face interaction can make it challenging for participants to know where they can or are expected to intervene. Sometimes, people talk over each other, or you get a few seconds of silence before the person talking realizes they forgot to they put themselves on mute.
To help you navigate the treacherous waters of conference calling so you can guide your meeting to a safe port, we provide you with our top five tips for successful conference calls.
Establish a clear moderator
Before you start, it is important to establish a dedicated person who will drive the conversation forward, manage the timing of the call and ensure that the topics on the agenda are covered.
Prepare an agenda ahead of time
Sending out an agenda to all participants before the call (maybe in the meeting invitation) is always helpful. Having a clear outline of the topics ahead of time can reduce the number of questions and interruptions related to a specific issue that will be discussed at a later point of the call.
It will also help participants prepare for the call so they are ready to positively contribute to the conversation instead of having to defer a discussion for a later time due to lack of knowledge or data.
Get right on it
Let’s face it, no one wants to be in this meeting. So start right away and start discussing the topics at hand. Moving to the most important goal of the call right away has two benefits. The first is that it ensures that the crucial points are indeed discussed and the second is that it will give you more time in case the conversation takes longer than you anticipated.
An added bonus is that you may be able to finish early and give participants a few minutes of their day back!
Create order from (potential) chaos
As mentioned before, users can start talking over each other if they are left to their own devices. This is why the moderator must set each participant up so they clearly know when they are supposed to speak.
Referring to them by their name is a successful technique to create a speaking order and to avoid people talking over each other. If someone else intervenes, it is up to the moderator to let them continue or to ask them to wait until they are given the virtual talking stick.
Summarize the call
This is perhaps the single most important step of the call. This is your opportunity to remind all the participants of what was accomplished in the meeting. Perhaps it was a decision that was made or it is a list of tasks and action items that need to be completed by different team members.
Conference calls will probably never be perfect but you have the power to improve them and make them more efficient by following these tips.