You've heard it said before: "Teamwork makes the dream work."
But teamwork can be complicated if you're hosting conference calls with low engagement and little participation. A conference call without equal participation from everyone on the line makes for dull, one-sided conversation. It's just not an effective way for teams to operate.
Participation from everyone on the call is key to team productivity, confidence and comradery. The entire team benefits when all members are on the same page about where everyone stands.
Here's how to make sure all voices are heard during your next conference call.
Your time is valuable - and so is your team's. While you're planning your next conference call, make sure to create an agenda. Agendas provide an outline for what you'd like to discuss and accomplish during your call. This information is not only valuable for you, but for everyone else on the call, too.
For the conference call organizer, the agenda serves as a reminder to keep everyone on topic during the call. One sure-fire way to lose people's attention during the call is to let the conversation drift toward an unrelated topic. Nobody enjoys feeling like their time is being wasted.
For others on the call, an agenda allows them to prepare better for the call. They'll be able to plan ahead of time what information and ideas they will be able to offer.
Read our blog post on how to create a conference call agenda for some helpful tips.
Conference calls are the perfect time to check in with your team. Ask for progress updates on projects and tasks they've been assigned.
When your team knows they'll be asked to share updates, they're much more likely to join the conference call prepared to talk. Nobody wants to look like the student who forgot to do their homework.
Make sure your team know that this is their chance to get any input from others on the call and to hold you accountable for your responsibilities, too.
Teams that know their input is valued are often more engaged.
When you've got a question that you know someone specific is equipped to answer, ask them. Let them know you appreciate their insights on the subject. Just don't forget to open up the question for others, too, when appropriate.
If you've noticed someone hasn't said much, ask them for their thoughts. You're not necessarily putting them on the spot, though, so phrase the question as an invitation for them to provide their opinion.
Even if they genuinely don't have much input, at least you've reminded them - and others on the call - that you value everyone's input. That's why they're on the call, after all.
Nobody likes to fiddle with complicated, confusing software just to join a conference call. The situation is made worse when a connection drops.
Troubleshooting is tiring. If someone's having difficulty even getting on the call, then chances are good they may not feel like participating as much as they normally would.
Choose a good conference call service to remove the headache for everyone. Make sure using the service is simple and intuitive.
To increase participation, use a service that has chat or private messaging features. This can be helpful when someone has a question but doesn't want to interrupt a speaker.
We've written more pointers on how to choose the best conference call service.
Your time is valuable and so is your team's. Let everyone on the call know ahead of time - like when you send out the agenda - how long you expect the call to take.
Do everything you can to honor this expectation. If that means tabling discussions that aren't urgent, then do so. You can always offer to follow-up separately after the call or at another time.
Time limits help everyone make the most of the conference call. They'll know that if they have questions, feedback or ideas, now's the time to share.
While we're on the topic of respecting everyone's time, if there is someone who doesn't need to be on the call, then let them know they have the option of opting out this time around.
Whether or not you give people this option - and it's not one to hand out lightly if your goal is increased participation - is up to you. But a team member who is busy with high-priority projects or has a legitimate conflict in their schedule may not be the most engaged participant.
Obviously, if your conference calls typically take priority or are mandatory, then this may not be the best tip for your team.
However, with some discernment, the option can be a good way to make sure everyone on the call is engaged and is making the best use of their time.
If your team uses conference calls for regular meetings and check-ins, then it's what happens between the meetings that pays the bills. To make sure everyone is on the same page regarding their responsibilities during that in-between, get in the habit of establishing next steps for everyone before you end the call.
By the end of the call, everyone should be clear on what's expected of themselves and the team as a whole. If you're leading the conference call, then make sure of this. Ask if there are any questions about next steps.
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Sign up for free today to start your next conference call right away. If you have any questions, contact us. We'd be happy to help.
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