Time wasted for many businesses often translates to money wasted. When productivity is of the utmost importance, many teams must weigh their options for how to make the most of their time.
For most business teams, better time management starts with smarter communication strategies. Once conversations about smarter communication begin, meetings and conference calls almost always end up being discussed.
And they should be. So much time that is devoted to meetings and conference calls would be better off being spent on other tasks.
Take conference calls, for example. In 2016, people in the United States and United Kingdom alone spent 163 billion minutes participating in conference calls. Unfortunately, many conference calls get bogged down with time-wasting complications and annoyances.
But conference calls don’t have waste time for your team. Here is how you can make your conference calls as productive as possible and stop wasting time.
Poorly managed conference calls can drain large portions of valuable time from people’s daily schedules. On average, people waste about 15 minutes per conference call, according to ZDNet.
That wasted time is often related to problems getting the meeting started, conferencing technology creating issues and other distractions - many of their own making.
In fact, doing other things while participating in a conference call is very common. In a survey published in the Harvard Business Review, 65% of the people surveyed said that they did other work during a conference call, 63% said they sent email, 55% said they ate or made food and 47% said they went to the restroom during the call.
Texting (44%), social media (43%) and and even video gaming (25%) also were on the list of things people did instead of putting all of their attention toward the conference call.
So, how can you hope to increase participation and decrease the number of distracted callers on your team’s next call? Well, it all comes down to creating a better conference call experience for everyone involved.
This has to start from the very first step of the conference call scheduling process and continue through to when the last person hangs up and the call is officially over.
The best time for a conference call is one when everyone on the team is available and not being pulled in multiple directions by the other tasks they have on their to-do lists and calendars.
Of course, finding that perfect time is always easier in theory than in practice. But it’s doable. It can just take a little bit of effort on the organizer’s part, especially if they are dealing with remote teams or coworkers who are spread out across different locations and, in some cases, time zones.
However, there is a general starting point that does in fact work for many people.
First, aim for the productivity sweet spot in most people’s schedules. That’s likely between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. for most people. If you hold a conference call too late in the day - or any meeting, for that matter - then you run the risk of people being at their least productive point in the schedules.
As for the best day of the week, most experts point to Tuesday. That’s because it is early enough in the week that teams are not overwhelmed with too many other projects and tasks on their plates. They have time to address immediate concerns, if needed.
Hopefully, they are also not so busy that other tasks are trying to pull their attention away from your conference call.
A common annoyance of those who are required to juggle conference calls with other meetings, appointments and projects on their schedule is that the calls don’t start on time and often go over the amount of time they were scheduled to last.
When you are planning a conference call that not everyone dreads, make sure that the call starts when you say it is going to start and ends when it is supposed to end. Your teammates will be grateful that you respect the fact that they have busy schedules.
Keep discussions flowing and don’t let anyone dominate the call. Ask direct questions often that will lead to shorter, more specific answers.
Moderators should also plan on being the first person on the call line so that you can keep track of who else has called in and who you might need to wait for - all while knowing that you have a schedule to keep. More on this later.
If you don’t use them already, then you should consider introducing agendas to your team’s conference calls. Agendas are perfect for letting everyone involved know what you plan on discussing and what type of input you will require.
The best conference call agendas indicate who will speak about each discussion item, how much time will be needed for each talking point and enough time at the end to go over what was discussed so that everyone is on the same page by the end of the call.
Out of respect for everyone’s time, be sure to stick to the time allotment noted on the agenda. Table items that have been discussed or debated for too long with no decisions being made and don’t let meetings run over their scheduled time.
A detailed agenda will allow you to conduct a much more organized conference call with few surprises and a schedule that everyone participating is able to follow.
If you’re the call moderator, then you should plan on being among the first people to call in. This will give you the chance to troubleshoot any technical difficulties before the conference call has begun.
Make sure any phones, microphones, speakers and other conferencing equipment that you are in charge of are in proper working order in advance of the call. Leave enough time to implement backup plans, too.
You should also run through what buttons on your phone or web interface (if available) control functions of the call service.
The final step to hosting a better, more productive conference call is finding a service that is reliable and understand. If you are looking for a better service, then give ConferenceTown a try.
With ConferenceTown, you can experience the best in conference call technology without ever having to pay a penny. You can still expect the best features, even with a free conference call service.
Sign up today to get started.
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