Success in business often boils down to overcoming obstacles. Some of the most common obstacles in business have to do with communication.
One example of a communication issue that many business leaders will encounter at some point in their careers is how to disseminate information to large groups quickly and effectively. That’s where conference calls have come in handy for so many companies and organizations.
But large conference calls are not always free of headache-inducing issues. There can be technical difficulties, annoying participant restrictions and other barriers that make sharing a message a much more difficult task than it needs to be.
However, these obstacles can be overcome. Simply find the right conference calling tools, apply a few tried and true conference call best practices and communicating with even the largest numbers can be a breeze.
Here’s how to get started organizing and leading a more successful large conference call.
The first step in setting up any type of meeting, conference calls included, is finding a time frame that works. Now, with large groups of people, finding a time that works for everyone can be almost impossible - but there are ways to go about trying to select a good time that may work for most.
Begin with contacting anyone who you believe absolutely must be on the call. If this is a considerable number of people, then try to use a quick email message or even a scheduling app to identify possible times. These apps can simplify the process and minimize the time-consuming back and forth of debating the best date and time.
Another option for finding a good start time for a large group of people is to narrow the list of people to poll down to managers who can then poll their own teams - or make sure a majority of their teams are able to hop on the phone.
This tip really comes down to common courtesy and conference call best practices.
Be sure to start the conference call on time. Put as much effort into ending the call on time, too. This shows everyone who took time out of their busy schedules that you respect the fact that they all have other tasks to handle and need to go about their days.
Plus, nobody likes marathon conference calls.
Starting a call on time may mean beginning before everyone has called in. This is especially true when there are many people expected to join. Once everyone who needs to be on the phone is present, it’s best to begin. Everyone else can be brought up to speed later, or they can listen to a recording of the parts of the conversation they missed.
If there’s anything that can help keep a meeting discussion on track and on time, it’s an agenda that’s been put together and sent out in advance of the meeting. In fact, there’s no greater frustration on large conference calls than a meeting that seems to ramble on with no clear direction.
That’s why it’s so important to establish exactly what will be discussed. For larger conferencing groups, it’s also a wise decision to include on the agenda how much time will be allocated to each each discussion topic.
An agenda is also a convenient reason for the call leader to interrupt a tangent or bring a discussion that’s gone on for far too long to a close.
Ensure that any agenda is sent at least a day in advance of a conference call - and that it reaches or is available to everyone who is able to join the call.
When it comes to large groups on the phone, call leaders need to make sure nobody speaks too often or for too long at any given time.
Provide plenty of opportunities for anyone on the call to speak up, but be aware that there could be many people who feel they have something that absolutely needs to be said. Consider finding a service with a question and answer feature that can allow people to present their ideas or questions in advance to determine whether they should be discussed.
If there is a portion of the call dedicated to reports from specific individuals, then make sure these are kept short when the number of participants is on the larger side. Screening these reports by having people submit them at least a day in advance can be effective, too.
In addition, be sure to have - and use - a service’s mute feature to allow speakers to continue uninterrupted.
Some conferencing providers limit how many callers can actually be on the call at once. If you are expecting a very large group of participants, then obviously these are the providers to avoid.
Certain free conferencing solutions also limit how many people can call in. Unfortunately, if you want more callers, then these providers that were free will instead charge you a fee.
It’s always best to find a free provider that won’t charge you for additional features. Find a service that has no caller limits, offering you the freedom to invite as many people onto your call as needed.
Another required free feature for conference calls (of any size) is the ability to record calls. For larger groups, this option has multiple benefits.
For one, anyone who was unable to participate in the call - and remember, there could be many people in this situation in large groups - can access the recording when they are able and hear what was said.
Second, people who were on the call but wanted to check what was said or simply listen to it again have that option, as well, with a recording.
Think a large number of people needing to call in means a paid conference calling service is required? Think again. Managers of larger groups don’t have to pay to expect a successful conference call with their entire audience.
Plus, every feature that was mentioned in this post is available with Conference Town. Consider starting your next conference call with a free conferencing solution that delivers the best service!
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.