Advances in technology have made it easier than ever for people to work without ever showing up to an office. In fact, recent statistics show that 70% of people report working remotely at least one day a week.
One of the most important tools for remote workers is the conference call. With a conference call, team members working on a single project can get in touch wherever they are and get on the same page.
That said, anyone who has had more than one business conversation on a conference call has sat through at least one poorly-run conference call. So how can you run a call that isn't a waste of everyone's time?
The first step to having a successful conference call is having the right software. This means actually using an instant conference call service, rather than just "conferencing" multiple callers in on a regular phone call.
There are a couple of reasons for this. Using a conference call service will result in higher call quality. It also makes logistics easier, with every caller knowing exactly where to call at what time.
There is nothing worse than sitting on a conference call where the facilitator continues trailing off or saying things like "have we covered everything?"
This is where a good agenda can be a life-saver. Even if you feel like the topic of the call is fairly straight-forward, write up an agenda, and send it to everyone who will be participating in the call. Then, ask if there is anything missing from the agenda.
This accomplishes two things. First, it ensures that everyone on the call knows what to expect. Second, it gives everyone the opportunity to tell the facilitator if they have something they want to discuss.
Having one person talk and everyone else listen on a conference call is not only boring but also not very productive. More often than not, the other folks on the call will put themselves on mute and engage in another activity.
To keep everyone engaged, encourage participation. When you're putting the agenda together, think of specific questions you want to ask.
Keep in mind that most people don't want to be the first one to speak up. It can be helpful to "plant" someone on the call who you talk to ahead of time to be the first person to make a comment. This can help get a conversation rolling.
Raise your hand if you've ever been a part of this meeting. There's a good conversation, and everyone is in agreement about what needs to be done. But then when you reconnect two weeks later, nothing has happened.
This is why it's important to both send out an agenda before the meeting and send out notes and action items after the meeting. Take notes of what is discussed in the meeting, and identify who has agreed to do what tasks in what time frame. Then, share these notes as quickly after the call as possible.
With these tips in hand, you will be prepared to lead a business conversation on your next conference call that is actually productive.
Want more tips on how to conduct business effectively? Check out the rest of our blog for more helpful articles like this one!