Most people who work in a professional setting have been on a conference call before.
These are often used to bridge the gaps between different departments that are located in various places. Conference calls also come in handy when communicating with clients from all over, or in order to get various partners on the same page.
However, not everyone who has been on such a call also knows how to lead one.
Knowing how to listen to multiple opinions on the phone and when to chime in are just the basics. There are many other skills to work on before you ready to lead a conference call with confidence.
This can be tricky to master at first, but it's definitely worth knowing how to do.
The following is the ultimate guide to leading a teleconference phone call.
First things first, before you get to any type of business, you need to introduce everyone. Even if this is an internal company call in which all employees know each other, it's best to lead with this.
Introductions confirm that all the expected participants of the teleconference phone call are indeed in attendance. Not to mention, this part of the call allows you to be a little personal and touch base with your people before getting into the nitty-gritty of the conversation.
Don't go too far into saying hello that you cut into the agenda. But, make it a point not to rush into all the important details, either.
Set an Agenda
Speaking of the teleconference phone call's agenda, always be aware of what this is. As the leader, you should know the purpose and expected timeline of the call better than anyone.
Such information allows you to stay on track and to keep all participants focused.
But, it works best when each person is aware of what the agenda
actually is. Send It out Ahead of Time
To make sure all the people on a call know what's going on, attach the agenda to your confirmation email. This gives them time to go over the material and prepare their supplemental information.
Getting this out of the way beforehand is a great leadership approach. It will save everyone a significant amount of time during the teleconference call, and minimize the likelihood of any confusion that may occur.
More so, giving out the agenda helps everyone be cautious (and respectful) of time. Keep to It
No matter how far in advance you send out the agenda, things are still bound to come up during the call. It's your job to decide whether to tackle urgent, unexpected matters that arise or to stick to the original plan.
Additionally, you are the one that every person on the call is counting on to enforce the time restrictions laid out. Don't let one person steal the show or go off on a tangent.
Chime in when you need to by telling someone to wrap up their point or to save it for later. Do this as respectfully as possible, of course, but make sure you communicate effectively.
Leave Room for Q&A
As much as it pays off to have a clear schedule laid out, you have to account for everything. This includes all the questions and insights your teleconference phone call group is bound to have.
The best way to plan for such things is to make them part of the agenda. Move through all the points you need to hit and ask everyone to save their questions as each person speaks.
You can leave a few minutes at the end of each major topic for questions. Or, add a Q&A time to the very end of the phone call.
Either way, don't forget to include this in your agenda.
Without time for questions, you risk going over the schedule and pushing into the rest of everyone's day. On the flipside, you may end up getting off the phone without properly addressing each person's concerns and curiosities.
Wrap Everything Up
After you finish the Q&A portion of the teleconference call, you can't just hang up! There are a few things you need to do before saying goodbye and getting on with your day. Summarize the Main Points
When you open the floor for Q&A, don't be surprised if a few participants jump on this at once. As the first few questions get answered, though, you'll notice that their frequency and depth start to die down.
Wait until there is a noticeable moment of silence before you start to summarize. This ensures all questions are answered and that you can begin the wrap-up portion of the call.
It also gives you the chance to touch on important points mentioned in the questions and make sure they sink in. Additionally, don't hesitate to go back over the entire call's most important takeaways. Go Over Action Steps and Expectations
A great way to communicate takeaways is to focus on the action steps
everyone needs to take moving forward.
Remind each person of what they are responsible for and when it is expected by. This takes all the major points and makes them personal. It gives all the participants a unique topic of the call to focus on and work on.
Make sure your expectations are clear, and also that your people know they can use you as a resource. Remind them you are available to provide more insight outside of the call if need be. Plan for the Next Call
The last thing you should do to wrap up and right before hanging up is set up a time for the next teleconference phone call.
This is beneficial in a few different ways. First, planning ahead makes it easier for everyone's calendars to align. Second, it reinforces the deadlines you established in your expectations mentioned above.
Planning ahead also shows you are a proactive leader, which is always a good thing.
Get the Most Out of Your Teleconference Phone Calls
Whether you're leading a teleconference phone call or setting it up for someone else, it pays to know the ins and outs of a successful, effective teleconference call
This is part leadership, part proper conference call etiquette and participation, and part preparedness and communication skills. All of these details come together to help you and your team move forward.
For more tips and tricks to get the most out of each call, explore our blog