Five Ways to Be a Better Conference Call Participant

March 09, 2009

March-3-conference-call-par If you are frequently on conference calls, it’s important to know a little conference call etiquette. And, if you’re the one hosting the meetings, forward this information on to your participants or make it a part of your meeting invitation. These tips will make for a smoother meeting and give participants the common courtesey they'd receive during an in person meeting.

  1. Be on time - Holding up any meeting is inconsiderate. If you’ve been asked to participate in a conference your opinion is important. So make sure you arrive on time.

  2. Identify yourself - State your name each time you begin speaking. Not all callers will be able to identify you by the sound of your voice.  Quickly saying your name can eliminate a lot of confusion.

  3. Nix the speaker - When it’s your turn to speak on a conference call, make sure you pick up the handset or use a headset. Speaker phones can be responsible for feedback and static. Background noise disrupts the meeting for everyone and may prevent other participants from hearing the information they need. It also makes it hard for you to hear with other people are speaking and you end up talking over them.

  4. Make friends with the mute button - When you are not speaking, use the mute button on your phone. If you don’t have a mute button, your conference call provider may have a touch tone command that you can use to mute your line.

  5. Stay away from the hold button – If you leave the conference call to answer another line, you may end up playing hold music or messages into the conference, preventing the meeting from continuing until you return. It’s best to devote your full attention to the call at hand. If you need to handle an emergency, disconnect from the audio conference.

These tips are basic conference call etiquette that everyone should know. So, feel free to pass on this information or add a few tips of your own in the comments below.

Seven Ways to Improve Your Conference Call Presentations

February 13, 2009

Feb-13-improve-presentationMany of us are great speakers and motivators in person because 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 as easily. Here are a few tips to help you put together a successful conference call.

1. Be Prepared

Have a clear idea of how you want your conference call to proceed and take time to complete a written agenda. There's no substitute for good preparation!

2. Start strong

Begin your conference call with an enthusiastic greeting. The impression you make in the first five seconds of a conference determines how receptive and attentive your audience will be.

3. Stay focused

Keep on track with your agenda. Try to format your discussion topics into clear, concise points which are easy to follow. 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.

4. Watch the clock

Keep an eye on the length of your conference call and be considerate of others' time. If you scheduled the meeting for an hour, your presentation should run a maximum of 45 minutes leaving time for questions at the end of your conference.

5. Ask for input

Periodically ask participants for their opinion on the subject at hand. Choose someone by name instead of asking for "comments from the gallery". This 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!

6. Wrap it up

Be clear when your presentation is ending. Recap the highlights of the meeting and clearly restate any goals or expectations you have for your audience. Make sure you formally end the meeting.

7. Ask for help

Remember that your conference call provider is your partner; your success is their success. Consider having an operator monitor your call for unwanted background noise and to ensure that a presentation can proceed without interruptions. You should also investigate the various features that will help you make the most of your meeting. For instance, you can have your meeting recorded, interpreted or transcribed so you can reach a wider audience.

Next time, we’ll talk about some tips for conference call participants. It will be great information to include in your meeting invitation so that your attendees know what to expect. 


How to Encourage Discussion on Your Conference Call

November 19, 2008

Nov18encouragediscussion_3We have all been on a conference call where the leader asks “Are there any questions?”  The sounds of lonely tumble weeds rolling across the prairie are all you can hear after that.  Eventually, the leader will acquiesce and assume there is no feedback, then end the call.  This is not ideal.  The point of a conference call is collaboration and team work.  So, we’ve developed a few pointers on how you can get the conversation started on your next conference call!

Prepare before the meeting

  • In your meeting invitation, give people a heads up about the conversation.  If you let people know what to expect, they can be more prepared.
  • Be specific.  If you are asking for ideas on a new product launch, have each person bring 3 ideas on how to promote the product launch with existing customers.
  • Give a little bit of background.  If you are meeting to discuss possible changes to an existing process, outline the existing process.  This will answer a lot of questions and give people time to get questions answered before the call if they have them.

During the meeting

  • Give a brief introduction to the conference call.  This is the time to layout goals for the meeting. What do you want to get accomplished? Letting people know what you expect will help them stay on task.
  • If you have people on the call who have never worked for each other, introduce them.  If you were in a face to face meeting, you would do the same.  Either tell a bit about each person or have them give a brief description about what they do.  This will get people accustomed to speaking on the calls.
  • When it’s time to get the feedback, call on specific people.  Yes, this is a bit like grade school. But after a few meetings people will know that everyone gets a chance to speak and they will be prepared to comment.

After the meeting

  • Send out a quick email after your conference call thanking everyone for their input.  This will make them feel appreciated and encourage discussion in the future.
  • In your email, include a quick summary of what was said on the conference call. You can also record your meeting or use a tool like Meeting Sense to keep up with all of the interaction!
  • Most importantly, make sure everyone leaves the audio conference with a list of action items.  You want your calls to be more than just talk.  Your collaboration on conference calls should lead to action in the business plan!

Your conference calls should always be productive and allow for discussion.  These are just a few ways that we have found you can get your audience to open up.  If you have other ideas or would like to discuss these suggestions, please comment below!