A business conference call is often an efficient and productive way to conduct a meeting. This is especially the case if certain members of the team cannot be present. Or, they may be a regular occurrence if you're an international company, used to communicating with partners and clients all over the globe.
A telephone meeting can be a convenient solution. But, it needs to be conducted in the same kind of professional and organized manner that would be expected from a face-to-face meeting.
If communicating over the phone isn't your forte, you might dread conference calls or find them awkward. Here are seven great tips to help you have better telephone business meetings every time.
These days it's becoming less and less common to actually speak to each other on the phone. But, while WhatsApp messages are great for family and friends, they're never going to be a viable option for business meetings.
Sorry, phone-phobes, but that means you have to start practicing your phone technique. This is the only way to ensure you don't freeze up when you have to make a telephone call for work.
You could start by picking up the phone and calling people occasionally. Or, you could even act out a business phone meeting with your partner or friend. This will help you get used to discussing business matters over the phone.
Creating an agenda for your telephone meeting is always essential.
Having a plan will ensure that you feel more confident, as you won't be struggling to think of what to say next. And, an agenda makes it easier for you and the other participants to cover all the points you need to discuss.
Remember to also prepare and organize relevant material before the meeting. For example, if you intend to refer to certain statistics, have those in front of you as well as the source, date, and any other related information. Having to look for these details while you're talking will only make you more nervous.
It's convenient that professional business meetings can be held anywhere thanks to the magic of conference calls. But, 'anywhere' is not always a suitable location. Noisy places full of interruptions will only serve to make you more nervous as you'll worry about hearing the others or if they'll hear you.
If you work remotely at least part of the week, then you might be away from the office during the conference call. Your local coffee shop may be your preferred spot to get work done. But, the hustle and bustle of a public place is far from ideal for a phone meeting. Instead, choose a quiet room in your home, close the door and limit the possibility of interruptions by switching all your other devices off.
If you are at the office, the same applies. Ask your colleagues not to interrupt you, and tell that the room you're using will be occupied for the duration of the meeting. A quiet environment will help you concentrate on the meeting, ensuring that you feel confident and prepared for the task at hand.
As well as a suitable location, the telephone meeting needs to be at a convenient time for all those involved. Avoid scheduling a conference call before or after other meetings. Having to rush from one meeting to another will only make you more feel more nervous and disorganized.
Leave a gap in your schedule of around 15 minutes before the call is due to start. This way you can use the bathroom, get a drink, find a suitable room and prepare yourself and your materials beforehand.
Then, you'll be ready to join the conference call at the time it's meant to start. Joining early can leave you feeling more nervous while you wait around. And joining late will leave you feeling unprepared.
Every meeting, whether it's over the phone or in person, needs a leader. If you're leading the call, then it's even more important to take steps to reduce your nerves.
Open the call on time, introduce yourself and ask the others to do the same. You should then verbalize your agenda from the offset. This establishes the purpose of the call, and gives everyone an idea of how the duration of the call will be structured.
As the leader, throughout the call you should refer back to your agenda, facilitate discussion, encourage questions and summarize at the end of each point. End with a general summary and review the next steps, then be sure to close on time.
Sometimes when people get nervous, they end up talking more rather than freezing up. If that sounds like you when you speak on the phone, learn to know when to stop.
Even if you're leading the meeting, you shouldn't be the only voice the others hear. Stick to what you've got written down in your plan and then ask the other participants to comment or reflect on what you've said.
Sharing the floor in this way will means that everyone feels included. And, with everyone's input, the meeting is more likely to reach a satisfactory conclusion for all parties.
You might think that body language isn't important during a phone meeting. But, although the other participants of the conference call can't see you, they can hear the confidence you project through good posture.
Sit up straight and imagine making eye contact with the other participants, just as you would in a face-to-face meeting. Make hand gestures as you would if they were in the room with you. This can help you seem more passionate and confident as you speak, which in turn will make you feel less nervous.
If you get nervous when you speak on the phone, you might dread conducting telephone business meetings.
But, with these tips to guide you, you can fake it until you make it. Acting confident will ensure that, in time, your confidence will grow. As a result, phone meetings will become second nature to you.
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