Conference calls can ultimately be separated into two distinct categories – good ones and bad ones.
Of course, the former is preferential to the latter and often the key difference between them depends on how skilled the chairperson is in hosting such meetings.
If you want to ensure every teleconference you have is a success, then here are a few tips to take heed of.
#1 Be prepared
This classic scout mantra has never been more relevant than when it comes to chairing a conference call.
If you want your meeting to be a productive one, then doing the legwork beforehand should be a priority. Set out your agenda, what key points you would like to get across and how much time you expect to dedicate to each part of the meeting.
Circulating these notes to other participants ahead of the call is a good idea, as this will give them the chance to make any necessary preparations of their own and allow you to be more efficient in covering everything you need to without having to give as much background information as you would otherwise.
You can also use this opportunity to confirm with them that the call is still taking place and remind them of when they need to be available. As the modern businessperson is often overrun with meetings and appointments, there's always the chance that your slot will slip through the net! A timely reminder a couple of hours before the call is scheduled to take place should prevent this from happening.
#2 Be polite
While this pointer may seem like common sense, there are elements of being polite in a conference call that you might otherwise not have given much thought to if the meeting were face to face.
For example, it's always good practice to introduce yourself to other participants in the call when it begins. Even if you have met your colleagues or clients in the flesh before, it would be wrong to assume they'll automatically recognise your voice over the phone.
It's also worth remembering you don't have the advantage of using body language to get your point across. The effect this can have on how you convey yourself to your audience differs from person to person, so you should consider whether or not what you are saying and how you are saying it is a true reflection of what you want to express. After all, you don't want to inadvertently cause offence to anyone!
#3 Follow up the call
Your telephone meeting shouldn't be the end of your business with someone, it should merely serve to facilitate it. For this reason, it's important to take steps to follow up the issues and points covered in your conversation.
At Buzz Conferencing, one of the services we offer is conference call recording, which is an incredibly useful tool for anyone wanting to revisit the discussion at a later date. This takes pressure off you when it comes to making notes during the meeting and gives you a reference point for future discussions.
You should use this to address any questions other participants may have asked that you were unable to answer at the time of the call. Similarly, it's usually a good idea to send an email to those who were involved in the conversation to ask if there are any other queries they might have that they didn't get around to asking at the time.
In accordance with tip #2, you can also take this opportunity to thank everyone for their time on the call in the first place.
While these three are probably the most important things to consider when it comes to ensuring your conference call is effective and productive, they are just the tip of the iceberg. For every 'do' you should bear in mind, there's also a 'don't' to avoid when planning and holding your meeting. Watch this space for those soon!