Conference calls are part of any successful small business. While they can be effective in planning projects and addressing business concerns, they can easily prove to be time-wasters if you don’t prepare carefully for them. Conference calls operate differently to in-person meetings and require more guidelines to ensure all goes smoothly. Follow these tips to help improve productivity during your next conference call.
Designate a specific time
Make sure a certain start and end time are chosen for the call. This helps keep people on schedule, ensuring that their comments are concise and relevant to the call’s purpose.
Confirm the dial-in number
It’s amazing how much time can be wasted tracking down a phone number for a conference call. Eliminate the confusion by confirming the phone number for the call beforehand and pinpointing who is responsible for getting participants connected.
Test your phone
Don’t let time pass trying to figure out how a new phone system works right before the call’s start time. Have this element ironed out before the call, so the discussion can begin on schedule.
Set an agenda
A team member should be responsible for providing a clear agenda to all participants in advance of the call. Circulate the agenda to all involved before the call to see if any additional points need to be addressed. The agenda is a way for people to prepare their comments on topics to be covered, which makes for a more thoughtful discussion. It also helps avoid surprising points from being raised that are irrelevant to the call and can potentially waste time.
Choose a moderator
It can be beneficial to decide on a discussion leader. This person will be responsible for reviewing the agenda at the beginning of the call, moving the conversation along, and ensuring that all adhere to the agenda. A moderator is also a great person to keep ramblers on track and prevent any awkward moments of silence.
Have supporting materials handy
One of the biggest causes of time wasting is someone disrupting the call to find relevant paperwork or to access a presentation needed to conduct the conversation. Before the call, make sure any necessary materials can be referenced easily if necessary.
Reserve time for questions and next steps
The end of a conference call is a time to pose any additional questions that haven’t been answered during the meeting. It’s also a good point to review any to-do’s that will need to be completed before the next conference call. The goal is to make certain everyone is clear on their responsibilities and feels the call was beneficial to their work.
Draft a recap
It’s also a good idea to e-mail a recap to all callers that outlines the points discussed and who will be responsible for specific assignments before the next meeting. This is also a way to prevent any tasks from falling through the cracks.
Conference calls can be an effective mode of communication if guidelines are set — and followed. In our interconnected world, it’s not necessary for every meeting to be face-to-face.productivity, small business, planning