Teleconferences are becoming very common these days, where the old rules of holding meetings don’t apply. It is difficult to run meetings in a room where all the participants keep discussion or arguing over some issue. Conference calls can be said as effective business tools that help companies organize meetings in a cost effective manner. From updating the internal employees about the changes and developments to keeping the clients up-to-date about the policies and performance of the company, teleconferencing does everything.
The key to run an effective conference call starts with the preparation you do before the conference call begins. Technology is changing rapidly, as a result of which it became difficult to handle conference calls. A person who is on conference call may not know who else is on the phone. Sometimes, new people may enter and interrupt the conversation. People keep on talking over one another. With these kinds of confusions, the issue that is being discussed is likely to remain the same. Though teleconferences reduce time and cost, they will end up without any solution, if not managed well. In this article, we are going to provide simple rules and tips that help you run effective teleconferences.
Golden Rules to Run Effective Teleconferences
Before you start teleconference call, you need to follow some general rules and guidelines. Most of the people in organizations do not follow the guidelines for leading an effective meeting or teleconference. It is always good to send the information in advance for ordinary meetings, where as it can be critical in case of teleconferences. Below are some golden rules that should be for running an effective teleconference.
- Log on at least 15 minutes before the call, so that you can gather all the essential information.
- Make sure that there is no background noise.
- State your name whenever you speak.
- Stay conscious of time zones before you schedule a conference call.
- If you find yourself in multiple tasks, make sure that you are completely in involved in the teleconferencing.
- Stay out of the emails and other things that are likely to interrupt the conversation.
- Turn off PDAs and other devices. Turn off your call waiting.
- Maintain momentum between meetings and encourage participation.
Teleconferences are different in several ways. Make effective use of technology and prepare the participants.
You need to prepare for teleconference call well in advance, the same way you prepare for a meeting. The only different is – you will have participants in front of you in a regular meeting, whereas you will feel the presence of participants virtually in teleconferences. Planning is the key to run effective teleconferences. Below are some important steps that help you to run teleconferences
Step 1 – Advance Planning
- Plan in advance and make a list of attendees. Check their availability on the date and time scheduled. The more notice you give them; the more are the chances of their presence.
- Check with the service provider, if you need to make a reservation in advance for the scheduled time slot. Make sure that you get the data and time as per your requirement. Decide the options that you are going to use for the call. You can get guidance from the service provider, whether you should go for a dial-in or dial-out call.
- Contact all the members and give them the time and date of teleconference. Make sure to specify the time zone. To avoid unnecessary confusions, consider listing different tiles in particular time zones (EST, CST, MST, PST etc). Provide the participants with telephone number along with the access code (If you use dial-in option). You can also provide your name along with complete contact information so that the participants can contact you directly in case of any technical problem.
- Create an agenda for your conference call to make sure that you cover all the important topics. By preparing an agenda, you will be able to run the meeting in a smooth and organized manner. The participants can also stay focused on the topic and prevents them from drifting away from the topic. Send the information and other material in advance so that the participants read them in advance and come prepared to the meeting.
Step 2 – During the teleconference call
- Begin the conference call at the scheduled time without waiting for the late comers. Take a roll call at the beginning to make sure about who is attending and listening. If the participants are not familiar with each other, introduce them or ask them to introduce themselves.
- Begin the meeting with great enthusiasm for a positive meeting. This is very important, especially if the participants are going to be on call for long time. It is the voice that is communicating with them. So, it should be energetic and interesting.
- Outline the agenda. Before you ask the participants to speak, cover the speaking limits with occasional pause. This helps other participants to respond. Organize your presentation into concise points.
- Don’t step away from the call as it creates problem for people who try to address you without realizing that you are not there.
- Direct the questions to a specific person, rather than posing them t other participants. The helps you prevent confusion. Moreover, you will get answer from the right person.
- Keep an eye on the clock to make sure that you are following the agenda and all the important points are covered. For long conference calls, it is advised to schedule a 5-10 minute break.
- Before you end the meeting, go around by addressing each person by name and asking for questions/comments.
- End the teleconference clearly by instructing the participants to hang up.
To Sum Up
Getting great results from teleconferences involves paying attention to many things. One should be familiar with and adept at using a variety of tools and technology. It is very important for the participants to understand the importance of the teleconference call you planned. Hence, prepare them well in advance to make sure that the call end with productive results.