1. Plan the Call
The most effective way to run a great conference call is to be prepared. At a minimum, you should have the names, phone numbers, email addresses and job titles of the people who will be on the call. This way if anything goes wrong, you can reestablish communications quickly.
2. Plan Your Location
Background noise is a conference call killer. Don’t try having a conference call from a shared cubicle area. If you don’t have a private office, try reserving a conference room. If none are available, ask someone who does have an office if you can borrow it. If all else fails, sneak into an empty office at your organization.
3. Send Email Alerts
Email alerts are great way of making sure that no one forgets the call, or is missing the call in information. Send an email out the day before the call, to everyone involved, stating the time of the call, the participants, the subject matter, the length and most importantly, don’t forget to include the call in phone number and password. Send this email again 1 hour before the call.
4. Start Early
Don’t wait till a minute before the call to dial in. Log into the call 10-15 minutes early so you have time to fix any problems like bad passwords, wrong numbers, bad sound, or any other problems that might arise.
5. Bring the Right People
Think about what the call is for, and make sure the right people are invited. If the subject matter is likely to cross into one of your cooworkers responsibilities, ask them to sit in on the call. Its better to include people than not include them, since they can always leave or decline if they aren’t needed.
6. Start the Call Professionally
Mute the phone. When waiting on participants to enter the conference call, leave your phone on mute, so the other callers don’t hear any confidential information that you may discuss while waiting for their arrival. When everyone has arrived, introduce everyone, with their full name and title, and why they are on the call. Thank everyone for coming, let them know the agenda and length of the call, and begin.
7. Leave Time for Questions
If you expect the call to last 30 minutes, schedule it for 60 minutes. At best you’ve wisely left time for the call to run long, or to include a question and answer session. At worst you let everyone out early, so its a win-win for everyone.
8. Send a Follow-up Email
Send an email to the people on the call, summarizing what was discussed, and about any action items. This way you can be sure that everyone on the call understands what they are expected to do next. If there is a followup call, this is when you should tell everyone when it is.
9. Buy a Headset
Headsets with a microphone and earpiece are easy to find, but they won’t connect to your workplace phone if you have the standard Cisco VOIP phones, like most companies do. You need to order a special headset from a maker like Plantronics. Make sure you get both pieces, the dialer and the headset itself. It can be expensive, anywhere from $200 to $400, but if you are a salesperson who lives and dies on the phone, this may be a great investment for you. Your contacts will hear you much clearer, and you will hear them much better too.
10. Use New Technologies
Remember, a conference call doesn’t need to be a phone call. Don’t forget about new technologies like Skype and video-conferencing.
Conference calls are a great way to stay connected and to convey information efficiently. Just try to make sure you stay on track so that they remain sessions that people look forward to in order to touch base, rather than time wasters that everyone dreads.
Until next time,