Conference calls don’t have to be dull, boring, and unproductive. Your conference calls should be informative and inspiring, even when it comes to simple things. If you’re not using an agenda, for instance, your calls will suffer from distractions and misdirection. In this guide, we’re going to cover some of the most important tips for hosting productive conference calls. The next time you host a conference call, remember these tips!
Use An Agenda Every Time
Imagine trying to navigate the complex network of highways in our country without a map or GPS. Sure, you could follow road signs, but they don’t always get you where you need to go. The same goes for a conference call. If you’re not using an agenda, you might as well be headed down the I-90 with no GPS or map. You’ll end up somewhere you didn’t expect, which can often turn out to be a bad thing because you end up back-tracking anyway.
Your meeting agenda should be simple and concise. It doesn’t have to be pretty or loaded with detail, but it should cover some basics: the time and place of the call, the dial-in info or link, who will attend, and what topics will be covered. You should also set a time limit for the meeting. Scheduling meetings for 30-45 minutes is the best way to get the most productivity out of them.
Tell A Story
When it comes to speaking, we tend to grow bored with speakers who just throw facts our way. If you’re using a tired or monotone voice as well, your callers are going to grow tired very quickly, and you don’t want your team suffering from meeting burnout.
Telling a story is a better way to get the point across without driving everyone to their beds. If you have information to present that is dull or uninteresting, spice it up with some real-life context. Tell a story about yourself, a life experience, or some other thing that can help your listeners relate. Or, tell it in such a way that they relate to the story through their own experiences.
We tend to listen more when we identify with either the speaker or the content or both. Don’t be afraid to spice things up a bit in your meetings, but don’t over-exaggerate, either. You don’t have to tell a dramatic story to capture your listeners’ attention—they simply want something they can easily relate to.
Don’t Use A Landline
The landline might still be around, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best tool at your disposal. When it comes to hosting conference calls, it’s time to leave the landline to antiquity and upgrade to the 21st century. Online conferencing calls have changed how businesses communicate, and if you’re not using these tools, you’re missing out.
With a conference calling app, you’ll be able to host better calls, control who joins and who leaves, mute certain callers, record your calls, and so much more. The amount of control over your calls that online tools provide ensures you’ll have better calls all-around. Plus, using a web-based service saves you the cost of paying long-distance and multi-caller fees.
Give Everyone A Chance To Speak
Everyone who attends the call should get a chance to speak. It’s far less productive to have people trying to talk over one another, so encourage your callers to familiarize themselves with the mute button. Everyone should be muted when someone else is talking and wait their turn to speak. As the call host, you have the ability to mute other callers, so use it. It’s very difficult to focus when someone’s background noise is disrupting everyone!
This is probably a good time to mention the guest list as well. Your call’s productivity can also depend largely on who attends. Take a second look at your guest list before scheduling the call. Does everyone on the list need to be there? Have you included everyone who is relevant to the topic?
After the meeting is over, it’s a good idea to follow up with everyone and set goals for them to reach between now and the next meeting. It’s also a good idea to see if everyone thought the meeting was productive. Feedback can help you host more productive meetings in the future, so don’t be afraid to ask what you can do differently next time.
Every meeting should have goals as well. If your goals aren’t reached by the end of the meeting, you might have to reschedule and try again.
The more organized, communicative, and diligent you are with your conference calls, the more productive they’ll be. Remember to always use an agenda, trim the guest list, use the right tools, and tell a story when you can. Don’t’ just throw information at people—this is both boring and uninspiring. Give everyone in the call a chance to speak, utilize those mute buttons, and always follow-up after a meeting and set interim goals until the next meeting.
These tips will improve your calls tenfold, you just have to follow them!