In today’s global workplace conference calls are how we do business. It happens all day long every day with little efficiency and effectiveness. I often wonder how much more we could accomplish if we limited the number of conference calls. However, since most companies have global offices our clients, prospects and counterparts will always leverage this platform to communicate. So if this is the case how can we improve this method so that we don’t feel as if we wasted an hour more of our day? Here are a few tips that can help.
1. Lead the call with purpose
If you organize it, you lead it. By this I mean, introduce yourself, explain the purpose or goal of the call and at the end wrap it up and articulate the next steps. Recently I, along with a number of my team members were asked to participate on a conference call and I repeatedly asked what the purpose of the call was but the organizer could not articulate and became increasingly agitated with me for asking. This was not intention (to make her agitated) it was so that I could be PREPARED for the call and also decide how many of my team members SHOULD be on the call. In the end this wasn’t a call we needed to be on but had I not pressed the organizer, it would have been a colossal waste of time.
2. Identify the speaker
Whenever you speak, identify yourself. Why? There will always be an instance where there are people on the call that don’t know you and are not familiar with your phone voice. Also, everyone is coming from a different area of expertise and offers a different perspective so it’s helpful for those listening to understand who is speaking.
3. Be civil
I’ve been on calls where individuals feel it appropriate to demand/insult others on the call and this is just wrong. Put yourself in the shoes of the person you are insulting and you will immediately get why it’s wrong. Also, this type of behavior only makes you look bad and ultimately damages your personal brand and reputation.
4. Get familiar with the MUTE button
I’ve heard dogs barking, doorbells ringing, pots clanking and yes even a toilet flush! There is a mute button on your phone so when in doubt as to when to use it, use it. More commonly there is always that one person who feels compelled to dial in while walking on a busy city street. If this is you, either find a quiet location or don’t call in. Street noise is very distracting to those on the call and more importantly no one can hear each other.
5. Conclude with clarity
“OK we’re done” isn’t an effective meeting wrap up. If you are the call organizer, thank everyone for participating, include next steps, individual task assignments and finally follow up via email with a meeting recap. This process keeps everyone on the same page and project initiatives moving forward.
What else would you add to this list? Would love to hear your insights!