If you’ve read this previous post, you know how I feel about conference calls. Conference call overload is a major productivity killer and time waster.
Sometimes, however, such calls are simply unavoidable. If you must host one, here are 4 tips to make it more productive:
1) Make sure you start and end on time.
Most meetings never start on time. When you’re in an office, it’s not a terrible thing to be a few minutes late. People saunter into the room and have random chit-chat with the person sitting next to them before the meeting gets underway. When you’re on the phone however, being late is much more noticeable. If a conference call doesn’t start on time, it makes people agitated. Afterall, they are just sitting there waiting. People might drop off the call altogether. Be respectful of people’s time and start on time.
2) Periodically ask for feedback.
The problem with conference calls is that you never know if people are paying attention or not. To keep everyone on their toes, ask the participants what they think or if they have any questions periodically. Keeping an open discussion going during a conference call keeps everyone involved, not only the host. It also drastically increases the productivity of the call.
3) Speak loudly and concisely.
Technology isn’t always reliable and you’re not sure what kind of equipment your participants are using to join the call. Whether they’re on their cell phone or office phone, do what you can to make sure everyone can hear you. Speak loudly and concisely. Before you start, ask if everyone can hear you. You’d be surprised how many people won’t speak up if they can’t hear you properly.
4) Act as if everyone is in the room with you.
The best tip to having a conference call, whether you are the host or the participant, is to act as if everyone is in the room with you. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t do if other people were there. For instance, would you check your email or surf the internet in a meeting with other people? Probably not. If you are giving your time to this call, give you undivided attention as well. Otherwise, it’s just a waste of time.