From sales presentations to internal training, maintaining open and reliable lines of communication contributes immensely to overall business success. However, to make a call productive requires planning. Whether there are three people on the call or more, these tips will help you have a successful conference call.
Distribute The Agenda Beforehand
Create an agenda that outlines the purpose of the call, the date, and a list of topics for discussion. Distribute the agenda in advance so that all participants have a chance to prepare, add items and ask questions. The agenda should identify the call moderator and his or her background and expertise. If you are introducing external experts or collaborators on the call, include a brief about their backgrounds and highlight their credentials with respect to the topic being discussed.
Make Sure Your Equipment Is Working
Even the most well planned conference call is not immune to technological glitches. If you are calling using your cell phone, make sure that it’s connected to a secure power source. Use earphones with microphones to improve the audio and project your voice. For conference calls that require visuals, make sure that your Internet is reliable and use collaborative whiteboards to improve engagement and retention.
Moderate The Conference Call Closely
Take attendance of participants as soon as the conference starts. Call moderators need to be both flexible and inflexible: while the agenda may change depending on participant availability or suggestions, air time during the call should be limited to no more than a few minutes. Ask participants to mention their name and company (if applicable) before beginning their comments. In the event that the conference call is audio only and some callers have not been participating, engage them with open-ended questions that can be answered using their strengths and expertise. Even if they are not the featured expert(s) on the call, all participants have a role to play.
Be wary of long conference calls and stay on time. When the conversation comes to a standstill, move to the next item on the agenda, or summarize the call, and next steps. Get agreement and send out minutes as soon as possible after the call to refresh and reconnect.