Executing a productive conference call isn't as easy as some may think. When people aren't physically present in a meeting, it's more tempting for them to get distracted or try to multi-task.
Studies have revealed many startling ways conference call attendees spend their time. Hint: it isn't taking notes. From catching up on lost sleep to writing emails and browsing social media, leading a telephonic meeting can feel a lot like herding cats.
But with today's mobile workforce, getting everyone in the same room isn't always possible. If you're not getting results from your conference calls, it's time to change your tactics. Keep your team on point and efficient with these proven call tips for a productive teleconference meeting.
You wouldn't step into a client's office unprepared. Why would you do so for a conference call? It seems like common sense, but too often business professionals choose to wing it.
The key to a successful teleconference meeting is a smooth and efficient execution. Use these 7 tips to refine your approach.
The results will speak for themselves!
Before you even get on the call, identify exactly what you want to accomplish. Create an agenda mapping out each phase of the meeting. Everyone should have a copy of the meeting agenda before it begins.
Send it out to your attendees at least 24-hours in advance. Give them time to put together any necessary information.
This gives structure to your meeting. Both you and your attendees know the expectation and have no reason not to sign on prepared. This increases the productivity and helps your employees focus on what is transpiring.
Nothing starts a meeting off poorly like showing up late. Make it a point to be punctual. Sign on early and start the meeting on-time. If you have stragglers signing on after the call, make it a point to redefine the expectation.
Sometimes the lack of face-to-face interaction can make these meetings feel more laid back. By maintaining the proper level of professional expectation, you'll reaffirm how phone meetings share the same expectations as traditional meetings.
You'll also find that when you log on early, you can identify and remedy any technical issues before the meeting begins.
While mobile devices make it easy to access a conference call anywhere, it doesn't mean you should. Your productivity on a call is highly influenced by your environment.
Avoid areas that are loud or prone to disruption. Instead, find a quiet place where you can focus. Make sure you can hear the other callers clearly on the line.
This goes for all attendees. Background noise is distracting not only for you but for others on the line, too. If someone else is in a loud or noisy area, request that they mute their line unless they're speaking or move to a more discreet location.
When conference calls are a one-way street, listeners can often zone out. Keep their minds focused through participation. As you plan your meeting, prompt responses by asking questions.
But what if your team is phone shy? There is nothing worse than asking a question only to hear crickets on the other end of the line. If this is the case, work their involvement into your agenda.
Give your attendees reasons to participate by assigning them roles within the call. Not only does this encourage participation, but it also ensures that they do their homework.
Attendees will log onto your conference call more prepared if they know they have to present.
You can also create engagement in other ways, such as using poll or survey tools in your conference call. This not only creates engagement, but it also shows your team that you value their opinion.
While some businesses have trouble creating engagement, others may have a problem with too much engagement. More specifically, they may find their meetings often stray from the main topic.
Tangents unrelated to the meeting's objective hinders productivity. No one wants to be in a meeting longer than necessary. There is always work to do.
The longer you keep people from their work, the antsier they become. Be mindful of their time and retain their focus by keeping to the agenda. If participants start to stray off topic, rein them back in.
A good tangent can always be tabled during the meaning and picked back up offline.
It's easier to focus on a conversation when the eyes have something to focus on. Visual aids can be an anchor for your participants. It helps drive your point home while keeping them engaged in the conversation.
Keep your visual aids clean, attractive, and concise. Use them to drive home important points. Good conference call services provide web-based logins and screen shares capable of showcasing a presentation.
This may be the last tip, but it is very crucial. Be mindful of how long your meeting lasts. You'll discover the most productive conference calls are the ones that are short and to the point.
The average employee's attention span doesn't stretch for hours at a time. The longer you drone on, the less your participants will pay attention.
If possible, keep your meeting reduced to an hour or less. If it has to stretch longer than that, schedule in five to ten-minute breaks. This allows your participants to take bathroom breaks, grab a snack or drink, and refresh their focus.
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