We have all been there before—-you are on a conference call, distracted by playing with your cat or having the phone on mute while watching a game, you can barely hear what is being said and don’t know and never are told what was discussed. It can be frustrating.
Conference calls are NOT the same as in person meetings. There is something about human contact and interaction and being able to see facial and body expressions that makes conference calls only 2nd best to in person meetings. However, there are some tips that can be used to make the most of YOUR conference call (and others’ if you forward them this post).
- Send out an agenda ahead of time. This is important for in person meetings but VITAL for conference calls for setting the tone and seriousness of the conference call. It sends a message that business will get done and this is not a time to passively listen and should be taken as serious as an in person meeting.
- Ask everyone to go to a quiet place AND put their phone on mute. This should drive out any distractions that people have in the background and muting the phone allows for everyone to hear whomever is speaking without 5 year old Johnny screaming in the background or a phone ringing in the office next to you.
- Demand 1 person speak at a time. This is NOT the medium that’s appropriate for side conversations that would be almost acceptable during in person meetings. Whomever is NOT speaking should keep their phone muted as a matter of fact.
- Do a roll call at the beginning or as people come on. There is nothing worse than a conference call and making a statement only to find out that the person its addressed to isn’t on the call yet. Plus it makes people accountable to making sure they are on the call ON TIME.
- Have whomever is speaking state their name before speaking. This is most helpful for when meeting notes as a part of an official record are being taken.
- BONUS: Email out notes from the meeting. The whole point of conference calls is that they are convenient. Someone may be riding in a car or somewhere they cannot take notes. They will appreciate the follow up and you can attest to what you said and any “action items” so no one will say they misheard or didn’t hear you during the call. Its call C.Y.A.
Conference calls can be a very convenient tool for business stakeholders when used as sparingly as possible and not to take the place of in person meetings. But when they are used, they take some time and tips to make sure they are effective for all parties involved. I hope you use some of these at your next conference call meeting.
Attorney Dar’shun Kendrick is the owner of Kendrick Law Practice, LLC, a boutique business law firm in Decatur, GA focused on keeping growing Georgia business owners “IN business and OUT of Court” through a variety of customized business and legal services. She has an M.B.A. as well as serves in the Georgia House of Representatives.