We all know that all conference calls are not equal. Sometimes, someone signs- in and they are on a train, or bathing the kids, walking the dog, or just on a bad line. There are people who try to multi-task during the call, people who arrive late, people who seem to not really be on the call at all; we’ll call them the lurkers.
I’m going to give you some proven strategies to make conference calls work for you. Some things can’t be helped, just because you have videoconferencing equipment doesn’t mean the people you are talking to do, or that they have anything even remotely compatible. You have to make the most of the conversation working between LA – FRANKFURT – DUBAI – SOUTH AFRICA, as well as any other countries where your company has laid its footprint. As always, remember you will get the notes, so if you don’t understand everything, there is a failsafe, E-MAIL.
In a WSJ article, I read some tips for making conference calls run more smoothly:
1. Participants who do not know each other should introduce themselves, explain their roles in the project and say what they expect to get out of the meeting.
2. Agendas and goals should be clearer than for face-to-face meetings. Everyone should have a copy of the agenda and be prepared to participate. Observe the agenda, the allotted timetable and make respecting everyone’s time a priority.
3. The moderator can help make the call more productive by calling on people to answer questions and keeping chitchat and jokes to a minimum. If the subject goes off topic, remind everyone of the telcon’s goal. The moderator can also make sure that there is a reason for everyone who is on the phone to be there.
4. Time-zone differences can irritate people who have to rise at midnight to meet with U.S. colleagues. Be respectful of the different time zones and try to be fair to everyone by moving the time of the conference calls to different time zone preferences.
5. Videoconferencing can solve some of the problems. You get facial and physical cues about how people are receiving information -- or whether they're engaged. However, many conference calls are split between people in a conference room and others using whatever phone they have, and not all phone technology is current.
Telecons are still rather primitive because of the cost and availability of state-of-the-art technology worldwide. If you must participate, do your best to be a productive member of the call.
Edited creatively from “Surviving a Conference Call” The Wall Street Journal
If you have two minutes feel free to write your comments about conference calls.
ANNABELLE B-BAUMANN, Communication Coach
"Annabelle I've learned alot from you .....with your friendly art and your diversified lessons... it is never boring!!!" -Doris, BASF
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