July 16, 2019 By Jen Mathews
September 11, 2018
4 Steps to Never Having Another Unproductive Conference Call
Chances are that you’ve probably sat through your fair share conference calls. Chances are equally as good that many of those conference calls felt like a complete waste of your time.
You probably remember comedy duo Tripp and Tyler’s video giving you a look at what a conference call would be like in real life. They conclude the meeting by asking a conference participant to “send out a recap email that could have basically taken the place of this whole meeting…”
Too often this is the case. Many companies accept these calls as a necessary evil. But in fact, there are many ways that you can revamp your conference calls and make them a powerful, productive, and engaging meeting tool. Here are several ways you can start getting more out of your conference calls:
While you want conference calls to be timely and follow an agenda so they’re structured and participants can prepare in advance, you don’t want to be chained to that agenda if the ideas are flowing. A great conference call is one where attendees are inspired — and often inspiration is fleeting.
Because of this, we need to be willing to set the agenda aside and spend the time to take advantage of key moments. Push something to next week, shorten a later item, but don’t diminish the impact of these meetings by obsessing over the agenda if the conversation is productive.
To effectively manage a meeting and make sure any “off agenda” conversations are still worth everyone’s time, make sure your meeting coordinator is willing to kindly steer a conversation where appropriate.
Conference calls can be some of the most productive and valuable meetings if they’re not overused. We should think to ourselves, “Could this meeting be replaced by an email exchange?”
In order to ensure that conference calls will be productive, make sure you have the right people in the meeting. Sometimes there are so many people on a call that many become passive participants, often multitasking behind the scenes. By limiting a meeting to fewer people — all who have clear post-call tasks or who have valuable dialogue to contribute — you instantly minimize the chaos and create a more intimate and thought-inspiring environment.
If the meeting ends and all individuals involved don’t have follow-up actions and understand their immediate next steps, then everyone’s time spent in the conference call was wasted.
Make certain that you capture the critical notes and slides, and that you make sure all participants are able to quickly and explicitly define their immediate next steps following a discussion. There should always be a clear consensus on the outcome and what actions each individual must take moving forward. Get individuals to identify specific actions, task specific owners, and be clear on the timeframe.
Conference calls can feel impersonal and distant without the help of a video-conferencing . Video humanizes the experience by allowing everyone — whether they’re remote workers, partners or clients — to meet face-to-face. It also demands more attention to speakers and the topic at hand, and allows those in attendance to react to verbal and non-verbal cues. Screen sharing and whiteboarding can also provide additional value to the meeting to make sure everyone is on the same page, even when they aren’t in the same room.
So next time you’re planning a conference call, prepare by creating and sending out an agenda (and being willing to stray from the agenda if it’s beneficial to everyone), using video for a more personal experience, inviting only those with needed insights and clear post-call tasks, and by being cognizant of everyone’s schedules and keeping things short and sweet. This way there is no doubt that your conference calls will result in more productive meetings for all in attendance.
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