A business conference call is a simple telephone conversation involving three or more people. It enables people from different geographic locations to meet at a prearranged time through phone. It facilitates business communication and helps resolve urgent issues. It is an opportunity for collaborating with co-workers or clients. Conference calling can be great asset when decisions need to be made quickly or a matter needs immediate attention. Conference transcription allows you record your official conference call that can be reviewed in detail when necessary.
To make conference calls more productive, you should know the art and science of conducting a conference call. The art of conference call is a clear agenda, purpose and scheduling and the science is having a clear line, lining people up with the right technology, and getting everyone to participate in the conference call.
One of the challenges of conference calls is communication failure. Without visual cues and facial expressions, participants may interrupt each other, leading to an increased risk of misunderstandings. Poor connectivity will make it difficult to identify what the participants are saying. Ineffective meetings also lead to social loafing, which means a human tendency to reduce effort and motivation when working in group. Many employees like to attend meetings through phones because being invisible allows them to multitask. To avoid such distractions and social loafing, many businesses have switched to video conferencing. However, video conferencing may not possible given attendee’s travel schedule, access to technology, and so on. Here are some tips to overcome these challenges and make conference calls more effective:
- Ask the attendees to find a quiet place and focus on the meeting. Ban the mute button so that they cannot multi-task during the session.
- Keep the conference call line open and ensure that everything is working. Create a norm so that everyone checks in before the time. Lateness can distract the meeting.
- Set the agenda carefully so that you can conduct a productive meeting. The ability to have a meaningful discussion is often hampered by lack of a proper agenda.
- Take attendance to ensure that all participants are present and create accountability for being present on time.
- Make a rule that everyone identifies themselves before speaking.
- Make sure that at least there is one person who acts as the task master and keeps track of all conversations and calls people when appropriate.
- Use people’s names during the conference call and direct question and comments to specific people. Note down the people who are contributing to the meeting.
- Use instant messenger for attendees to notify during the meeting if they want to speak or indicate if you have missed something.
- Since you don’t have visual cue, it is better to speak slowly with an occasional pause.
- Use clicker, brainstorming, and polling apps to test consensus and bring forth ideas from everybody.
- Once the meeting is over, ask attendees for suggestions on how to improve the meeting.
- Look for ways to attendees to spend time with each other in order to build trust, improve connection, promote empathy, etc.
Despite the rise in video conferencing, conference calls still hold a special place in business world. Therefore, it is important to maintain some etiquette to make conference calls productive. Some etiquette tips:
- Avoid eating and drinking during the meeting
- Do not interrupt others
- Don’t go off the topic
- Stay focused
- Speak clearly, concisely
Conference call transcription services are available to get conference calls accurately documented for future reference.