More than ever before, American employees are working from home. In fact, in between 2005 and 2015, the number of workers who do the majority of their work remotely increased by 115%.
This means that face to face meetings are decreasing and conference calls are on the rise.
But, just because it's a conference call it doesn't mean it's casual or unofficial. A conference call is just like a regular business meeting and requires a certain degree of etiquette.
Before you set up a conference call, read out top 10 tips on how to call people in the most productive way.
Time is gold, not just for you, but for everyone who you arrange to have a conference call with. So plan ahead and be organized so that the conversation doesn't stray off topic. This is even true when it's a one-on-one conference call.
During the planning stages, agree who will call who, and which phone number should be used. This will help things to run smoothly without any unnecessary confusion.
Generally, conference call etiquette requires that if you are asking something of the other person, you should offer to call. Whereas, if they are asking something from you, it is their responsibility to call. Either way, make sure it is clear from the offset.
If there are several people connected to your conference call, it would also be beneficial to set boundaries at the beginning. For example, confirm how long each participant has to talk.
So, now you've got the ultimate plan arranged, you need to stick to it!
This means being firm with the participants, and sometimes even yourself. For example, if the conversation goes off topic, you need to steer the discussion back to its original purpose and stick to the agenda.
If your meeting runs overtime because of irrelevant topics, the participants may become frustrated and other difficulties could ensue.
If the person you are calling doesn't answer, try again a couple of minutes later. If he or she doesn't pick up after the second time, leave a voicemail and send an email. Be clear and concise stating how much more time you are available.
Always start and end on time, and don't wait for stragglers. If, ahead of time, you know you're going to be late, let the other person know as soon as possible. Offer to call them as soon as you're ready if it's convenient for them.
Before you begin, if needed, give a brief overview of who you are and what the aim of this meeting is. When your conference call has more than three people, the organizer should check that everyone is there, by doing a speedy roll call.
If you join the group call during the meeting, introduce yourself immediately so that everyone knows you are listening and won't be shocked if you suddenly pop up in the conversation. If someone else joins the call late, don't waste time catching them up on what has happened. They can catch up at the end of the call if required.
Conference call etiquette requires that you focus exclusively on the call. That means no email checking during a call. Being focused means you will benefit from the call 100% without wasting time by asking them to repeat the question.
When setting up a conference call, you clearly need a specific aim, or the meeting will be a waste of everyone's time. The goal of the meeting should be clear from the onset. This will increase productivity, as everyone will realize the aim and try to stick to it.
It is crucial to prepare an agenda so that you can keep the conversation on topic and accomplish the purpose of the meeting. Your agenda should include an outline of the meeting, a list of everything that needs to be discussed and any significant dates or statistics that need to be on hand during the call.
Having notes prepared in advance can help you to keep the conversation going, and to fulfill your intention. You should also take notes during the meeting so that you will remember vital points that are discussed.
But, taking notes can be somewhat distracting. You can always assign someone to take meeting minutes for you so that you can focus on the call itself.
When setting up a conference call, you need to make sure you have the right tools. This includes a phone, computer and some kind of conference software.
It should be reliable, secure and be able to connect instantly.
Although there are many conference call platforms, one of the best tools you can use is ConferenceTown. Contact us to find out more.
To avoid awkward silences, in a successful conference call everyone needs to participate. If you're the organizer, it's your job to get them to join in the conversation.
This is especially true if someone is dominating the discussion. You should call on others in the group for their opinion. Make them feel respected and involved by listening to their comments.
You can also use visual aids to keep it engaging and to encourage participation. For example, use a screen sharing service to present something during the call. Just don't overdo it as it could be more distracting than engaging.
Try to get everything set up early so that it runs smoothly. Minor technical issues can easily be resolved, but only if you are ready ahead of the scheduled time.
Before starting the call, make sure your speaker, microphone, and camera (if you're using one) are working.
It's also vital to check that the signal is strong. Use a landline to bypass potential signal issues.
Make sure you are in a secluded and quiet location. If it's not possible and your surroundings are noisy, you can always use the mute button for the times you are not speaking. However, you should always respectfully let the other participants know that you're doing this.
Make a recording of the call. This can be valuable for future reference. But always let the participants know before you do it.
You can always let others, who could not make the meeting, listen to the recording to fill them in. And you can send the recording to each participant of the call so that everyone is reminded of what was spoken about.
Many conference call services include a call recording service in their software for free.
Keep the call short and sweet. Each participant will appreciate a meeting that is concise, clear and fulfills the aim. Five minutes before the call should end, warn the participants that there are only five minutes left to go.
This diligent planning will help you to gain respect from the attendees. And they will look forward to your next conference call!
As you can see, there are certain kinds of protocol needed when you set up a conference call.
Each of these 10 tips can be attained easily. The key is thorough planning and using the best conference call software available.
Find out more about our free conference calling service here.
ConferenceTown.com provides the highest quality, feature packed audio conferencing for free. There are no hidden fees. Our system can handle both small and large conference calls. When quality is what matters, there's just one choice.