Improving the conference call experience
Let’s face it, conference calls can suck. We’ve all been on that call with late people, bad reception, crying babies or barking dogs, and we’ve all suffered through inefficient uses of our time that could have better been done over email.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Pioneer Business Systems launched the Captain Call Dare to challenge everyone to have more fun with office calls. It’s more than just fun, though, and the company offers the seven following ways you can make your conference calls more awesome:
The capacity for crystal-clear phone calls over long distances is both our saviour and potential downfall.
If you’re dialling in from a mobile, be extra sure that you’re in an area with strong enough signal to handle the call (calling while on a train is a risky move!). If you’re on a desk phone, double check the volume settings and that it’s all plugged in.
Arriving promptly to a call shows a good attitude and a willingness to contribute. If you turn up 10 minutes late and require a recap on what’s been discussed so far, most people will remember that, rather than any other contributions you may make (no matter how good they are).
Setting a reminder in Outlook, on your phone, or even with a Post-It isn’t difficult and it can save you impacting negatively on a call.
Don’t let your call drift lazily from one topic to the other as this will make attendees bored and uninspired. Instead, stick to a pre-agreed agenda with the goal of meeting pre-agreed objectives. Send these via email to all attendees before the call and request they read them in advance (then at least if anyone isn’t prepared, it won’t be you!).
Make sure everyone knows who else is on the call. This can be achieved either by stating your name when you enter the call, or via a round of introductions once the call is underway. You can also include a participants list with any documentation sent around before the call.
People don’t always go into conference calls with high expectations in terms of having a fun time; if you can offer an interesting introductory icebreaker though, you might succeed in capturing their attention and switching them on.
Why not ask everyone to tell a random fact about themselves? Or if that’s a bit ‘out there’ you could ask everyone what they’re up to this evening: something non-business related will remind everyone that there are real people at the other end of the phone line rather than business automatons!
6. Be verbal
If you agree with something, say so! In physical meetings a nod of approval will send the message but obviously this won’t work over the phone. Verbally agreeing is a good way to ensure that people on the call know their points are being acknowledged and well-received.
You can do this if you don’t agree with something as well, but be careful not to come across as a heckler.
Ensure your call wasn’t pointless by keeping minutes throughout the call and sending attendees a summary afterwards. A list of bullet points is much easier to digest than a wall of text – ideally with a separate list of actions.