Very few of us look forward to attending meetings, whether in person or over the phone. And often, a large conference call can feel like an unruly waste of time. But it doesn't have to be this way. You can successfully manage your meeting to get the most out of each participant with the least amount of pain.
Before you gather your team and dive headfirst into your next conference call, check out the valuable strategies below that will make your meeting more productive.
Start on Time
Set the tone right from the beginning.
Starting on time helps enforce a culture of productivity. It gives attendees more incentive for actually showing up on time.
Waiting for a straggler to join the call slows down the entire process.
If you're the host of the meeting, arrive to the call early so that you can greet attendees as they join. This will also make it easy for you to orchestrate the flow of conversation from the beginning.
As you're keeping track of who has yet to join, you can ready everyone else for a lively and productive discussion.
Send a reminder email 5 or 10 minutes before the meeting so that people have a chance to finish last minute business and join in on the call. Be sure to include all relevant login information or dial-in numbers.
Have a Set Agenda and Stick to It
The most frustrating thing about any meeting is lack of clarity about why it has been called.
No one wants to get together just for the sake of meeting. It's one of the biggest complaints employees have about meetings
in the first place.
Provide a clear agenda so your entire team sees the importance of the session to come. This will ensure a better experience for all involved and help keep you in control as a leader.
Your colleagues or employees will feel less inclined to go on tangents or attempt to steer the conversation in unintended ways if they have confidence that you've planned a meaningful agenda.
Share this before you start your large conference call. When appropriate, solicit agenda items from attendees in advance.
People will be more invested in meetings where they feel they have input, but you'll remain in control because you've gathered feedback in advance to help you prepare the agenda.
Respect Everyone's Time
As important as it is to start on time, there are other equally important ways that you ought to manage your large conference call to demonstrate respect for every attendee.
End on time. If the meeting is supposed to last an hour, don't run long.
Likewise, if you've gone through your entire agenda with time to spare, end the meeting early. Don't hold anyone hostage on the phone just because you feel obligated to make the meeting last a certain length.
One essential part of ensuring a well-run meeting is that you monitor airtime for individual comments. The more people gathered on the line, the more opinions there are to potentially share.
Don't let anyone dominate the conversation unnecessarily so that everyone can be heard.
Consider soliciting feedback in another way; a survey or exit slip will give everyone a chance to express how they feel without taking a ton of time on a call.
Manage Call Settings to Minimize Interruptions
If you're planning on gathering a big group for a phone meeting, take advantage of premium technology to make it a smooth experience.
With our free service, you as a moderator have more control than ever.
You can turn off notification for new arrivals. There's no need for the pinging of recent joiners to interrupt the flow of ideas.
Features like recording the call eliminate the need to repeat yourself if someone is late or confused. You can also use this feature to review past calls and improve on your own presentation skills, making future meetings even better.
Other functions like sound enhancement can help add crispness to the call.
One of the major disadvantages to a large conference call is the distraction of ambient noise. If someone is driving, has a staticky connection, or is in a noisy location, everyone on the line might miss crucial information.
Be sure to instruct participants in the call to mute their lines when not speaking. And take advantage of moderator features like presentation mode or Q&A mode which give you maximum control over your call's sound quality.
Your attendees will be more likely to engage positively and professionally in the conference call if they aren't fighting to hear it.
Give Action Steps
Every meeting, whether a one-on-one session or a large conference call, must end with action steps.
The people on your team need to know what to do next or productivity seizes.
Before you plan your meeting, think about the potential follow up items. Don't use the time on your call to do this brainstorming.
You'll lose the trust of the attendees and waste precious time. Having a sense of what may need to come next should be part of the planning you do in creating your agenda.
What needs to be accomplished and in what order?
Is there further conversation that needs to happen before action can be taken?
What deadlines can be established for next steps?
People should leave the meeting with a sense of purpose, having gained new information and assignments than what they entered with.
Assigning responsibility and establishing a follow-up plan are hallmarks of strong leadership
You Can Successfully Run a Large Conference Call
Don't let the number of attendees on your call throw you off.
By having a well-planned agenda, respecting everyone's time and opinion, and utilizing great technology, your large conference call can be a pleasant experience for everyone involved.
We've not only taken the guesswork and hassle out of the hosting of your conference call, we've taken the cost out it as well. Sign up for a free premium account
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