Many of us are great speakers and motivators in person-we can make eye contact with our audience and see the effect we are having in their reactions. It can be much more difficult to feel confident about presentations made by teleconference, because you cannot sense the reactions of your audience so easily.
Here are a few tips to help you put together a successful conference call:
Begin your conference call with an enthusiastic greeting. The impression you make in the first 5 seconds of a conference determines how receptive and attentive your audience will be.
Keep it Structured
Outline the agenda for the conference call. This lets participants know what's coming, and keeps them on track with the presenter.
Keep on track with your agenda. It's a good idea to write the topics you want to highlight in large letters on a piece of paper, and place it where you can see it during the entire call. If a question arises on a different subject, suggest that it be discussed at the end of the meeting, after planned topics have been addressed, and return to the topic at hand.
Keep it "Bite-Sized"
Try to format your discussion of different topics into clear, concise points which are easy to follow.
Ask for Input
Periodically ask participants for their opinion on the subject at hand. Choose someone out by name instead of asking for "comments from the gallery". This simple technique helps you gauge how well your message is getting across, and other participants will pay more attention if they know they might be called on for input!
Be clear when your presentation is ending. Recap the highlights of the meeting, clearly restate any goals or expectations you have for them, and formally end the meeting.
In addition, make a point to remind your call participants that there are some rules everyone should stick to for the success of the meeting:
Be on Time
Holding up any meeting is inconsiderate.
When callers are not speaking, request that they use the "Mute" button on their phones and pick up the handset when they do wish to speak. Background noise disrupts the meeting for everyone, and may prevent participants from hearing the information they need.
Ask that each participant state their name when they begin speaking. Not all callers will be able to identify others by the sound of their voice, especially if they use a speakerphone or cellular phone.
And the most important tip of all: BE PREPARED!
Have a clear idea of how you would like your conference call to proceed, and take the time to complete a written agenda. There's no substitute for good preparation!
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