Are you having trouble hosting productive conference calls? You’re not the only one! Businesses everywhere run into plenty of obstacles to productive calls on a daily basis, from faulty equipment or software to poor planning and everything in between. Let’s be honest; everyone wants to get off the call as soon as possible, and the longer it takes, the more bored and disengaged our callers become.
In this guide, we’ll cover four awesome ways to improve your conference calls and stop taking up too much time. From learning how to use the mute button to planning your calls better, these tips will make your next call something of envy at the office. Read on to learn more!
We’ve all been in a call where someone couldn’t find their mute button. The lawnmower in the background, combined with Fluffy’s barking and little Johnny’s pleas for playtime completely derailed the call and caused a distraction for everyone involved. It wasn’t productive, and everyone left feeling like they’d wasted their time.
Ok, so maybe the story is a bit dramatic, but it does highlight one very crucial point: everyone should familiarize themselves with the mute button while on a conference call. Ideally, if you’re not the one speaking, you’ll mute yourself until it’s your turn. This helps eliminate background noise and distractions and keep the call focused on the topic at hand.
Traditional conference calls via landlines are dying out and being replaced by online conferencing services. These make muting callers easier, as the host has the ability to mute anyone who becomes a distraction. Even so, you should still practice using the mute button yourself; it’s just common courtesy when you’re on a call.
If you’re the call host, you’re setting yourself up for disaster if you don’t have some sort of plan or outline for your conference call. It’s already so easy to get distracted by conversations outside of the topic at hand, especially when the home team just lost its game the night before or the new hire was caught stealing from the break room.
If you have an agenda, or at the very least, a hand-written plan for how the call will go, you’ll find you’re much more organized and everyone is (mostly) on the same page. You should always set an ultimate goal for the call as well.
The problem with poorly-planned calls is that they tend to descend into chaos rather quickly, and once they’re there, it’s hard to reel everyone back in. Keep things disciplined and structured from the beginning for maximum productivity.
Using a meeting agenda template is probably the best way to organize your calls. These are available online and be edited and shared easily via email or cloud services like Google Docs or Google Calendar.
Your callers will be grateful for the opportunity to see the agenda beforehand and suggest any changes they’d like to see. Plus, no matter how many times you go over the agenda, there’s always a chance you’ll miss something. An agenda also helps you trim the guest list, which can make for more efficient and productive calls overall. Always use one!
Even if you go into your call armed with a thorough agenda, you’ll still want to set expectations and goals right away. Once everyone has joined the call, be sure to go over the expectations you have as far as material covered, participation, etc. Make sure you have at least one goal you want to reach by the end of the call.
For instance, you can say things like “By the end of this call, I’d like us to have a plan in place to address our profit losses this quarter”. This gives everyone in the call something to focus on, and once you’ve reached the goal, everyone will feel accomplished.
As the host of the call, it’s up to you to create a professional environment with the right expectations to keep everyone on track. Don’t be afraid to mute people who are being disruptive, or even remove them from the call altogether!
Landlines have been the default tool for conference calls for decades, but the web is making conference calling easier and more accessible than ever before. With online conference calling tools, you can host calls for people all over the world with no long-distance or multi-caller fees. Plus, many online tools include video calling as an option as well!
For less than half of what you’re paying for landline service, you can host online conference calls that are more productive, easier to access, and much higher quality.
Productive conference calls require specific tools, a certain amount of leadership, and clearly-defined goals and expectations. If you want to improve your calls, switch to online conferencing tools, use an agenda for every call, and encourage frequent use of the mute button.