Conference calls can be a complete waste of time if the end goal isn’t achieved once the call is complete. This can be incredibly frustrating for the attendees and the host (you), as no one learns anything and everyone leaves the table unsure of why they attended the call to begin with.
Here are some pro tips on organizing your conference calls for maximum efficiency and ensuring they’re not just a waste of time.
Adhere to a Schedule.
Keeping your conference call within specific time constraints will ensure that the call isn’t overly-long and the information is presented in the most concise way possible. Ideally, your conference calls (or any meeting, for that matter) should be less than an hour long, but this isn’t always possible.
This doesn’t mean you should rush through the information to get it done, but you will want to organize your information and pay close attention to the time blocks you’ve allocated to each topic. There are plenty of tools to manage your time available on the web if you’re struggling to get things to sync within a certain timeframe.
Make sure everyone has a copy of the meeting’s agenda (which should include a schedule) so they know what to expect and when. Allocate specific time slots to your topics, and try to stick to those time restrictions as much as possible to keep the call on track. It’s also a good idea to set a hard time limit for the entire meeting to avoid burn-out.
Keep Information Organized/Plan Ahead.
If you show up to any sort of meeting with unorganized presentations, you’re going to have a tough time getting anyone’s attention; let alone staying on track to finish in under an hour. You should always plan your meetings ahead of time, preferably a few days in advance. It’s a good idea to send off copies of the meeting agenda to attendees in advance as well.
You can use online meeting agenda templates or simply create a list of topics you want to discuss on a post-it note or notebook paper. Agendas don’t have to be fancy or flashy, so focus more on practicality than aesthetics.
Keep it Professional.
Keeping your speech and mannerisms professional during a conference call is critical; especially if you’re dealing with new clients or team members. You want to make a good first impression on behalf of both your personal reputation and that of the company you work for.
Don’t try to talk over anyone else, and always wait until everyone is done speaking before you add anything to the current conversation. Interruptions are quite rude, and talking over someone to make your point is just plain disrespectful and does not give a good impression of your professional behavior. Video conferencing software is a great option for providing an in-person alternative that will allow you to take note of body language as well as speech.
Avoid Side Conversations and Casual Talk.
It’s also a good idea to keep casual talk out of a conference call. What happened in the office is a discussion for the break room, not the conference call. Avoid slang, cursing, and other speech that could be viewed as unprofessional. Maintaining your professional image and attitude in a conference call is equally as vital as maintaining it in the office.
While it’s perfectly fine to ask everyone how their week has been, and do engage in casual greetings, the rest of the meeting should be focused on getting through the material. Let’s be honest; no one really wants to be in a meeting, and they certainly don’t want to sit on a conference call all day.
Side conversations serve only to derail the call and make it more difficult to reach your end goal. Keep your conversations as topic-focused as humanly possible, and be sure to exclude anyone from your guest list who has a reputation for derailing calls (an email will work just fine).
Get Feedback from Callers.
While this might seem like a silly tip, it actually can provide you with incredibly valuable information that you can use to improve future calls. Often, when you call a customer service representative for the electric company or a retailer, a post-call survey is offered for the very same reason.
Your callers will be able to tell you what they thought about your presentation, the quality of the call, as well as any issues they might have noticed that you’ll want to address next time around. Never underestimate the power of valuable feedback, as it is the easiest way to understand what your callers experience on the other end of the line.
Improving your conference calls ensures that no one in attendance will feel like their time was wasted, and all of your goals will be reached. Remember to stay organized, track your time, and use the right platforms to avoid disconnections and interruptions. Keep your speech professional, and always share your agenda with callers ahead of time. Follow these simple tips, and you’ll be able to host the most effective calls possible.