We’ve all been to THIS conference call… too many times in fact.
While Tripp and Tyler absolutely nail the inherent comedy in the ways we conduct conference calls, let’s take the conversation to the next level. How do we run better conference calls?
Here are a few simple ideas:
1. Set context and get the conversation started BEFORE the meeting. If you leave agenda AND the context AND the initial stages of the conversation to the actual conference call, you are getting off on the wrong foot. Sending around an agenda is required, but it is not enough. You also need to send around a few words on what the context is… not just WHAT the topics will be, but also WHY you are calling the meeting. What are the issues, what is the problem, what is the opportunity… set context. AND, in addition to an agenda and context, it can often help if you start off the conversation with a few initial thoughts, via email perhaps, to get people thinking and allow the group to start the conference call at a higher level.
2. Don’t schedule your call to start right at the top of the hour or on a 15 minute increment. Chances are almost everyone will be coming from something else that ends at the same time, and they will need a few minutes to hit the restroom, walk back to their office, dial into your call. Consider starting your call at 11:05 or 11:10 instead of 11:00. If you give people a few extra moments to sign in on time, then you won’t have that annoyance of late arrivals beeping in as you are trying to start the call.
3. Set some ground rules. Ask people to mute. Ask people to identify themselves when they speak, so everyone knows who is speaking. If you are using meeting software like Webex, use the “raised hand” function, and then moderate, so people are not speaking over one and other.
4. Work hard to engage people on the dialogue. Give people responsibility to lead different parts of the conversation. Plant questions in the audience to get people speaking. Ask specific people for their opinion on different things. It will keep them on their toes and more likely engaged.
5. Keep it short. If you told people it would be an hour, end it after 45 minutes. They will love you for giving them part of their day back.
All joking aside, conference calls can be annoying and if we learn to to do them better, we can add significant efficiency to our day.