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Planning a Conference Call
One of the keys to ensuring an effective conference call is proper planning. Before the call takes place, everyone involved in the meeting needs to have all the details of the call. Everyone needs to know the exact time and date, the phone number to dial in on, and the right code to access the conference call. You can call everyone individually to tell them or just send out the information in a group email. Make sure that everyone is aware of the topic of the meeting. Give them a schedule or agenda with the details of the conference. This way everyone will be prepared beforehand and will help to keep the meeting on track.
If the conference call is to be accompanied by web support or anything that is to be accessed on the internet (such as an email or file), then everyone needs to make sure they have a computer with an internet connection. The conference call will be hindered if someone on the call can’t connect to the web.
A few minutes before the start of the conference call, you should send out an email or alert everyone via their cellphone that the meeting is about to start. This is just a friendly reminder in case someone forgot.
Who Should Attend
Not everyone needs to be involved in a conference call. The topic of the meeting may only be relevant to a few people, not the entire staff or associates. Before you set up the conference call, decide who needs to attend and send them the conference call information. If there is someone who doesn’t need to sit through the entire call, you could always just call them separately to discuss their part or email them the appropriate information.
When hosting a conference call, you definitely want to be seated somewhere quiet where there isn’t a lot of noise going on the background. Too much noise can interfere with understanding what others are saying. Plus, if no one can clearly hear you, people will lose focus and the meeting can get off-track. If you happen to be in your office or at home with the family, let everyone around you know before the conference call starts that you need quiet. The less you have going on around you while the conference is taking place, the more you will be able to concentrate.
Be On Time And Be In Control
If you are hosting the conference call, you of all people should be on time. It sets a bad example of the host is late and it can throw your agenda off. Once you sign into the call, make sure everyone is there. Do a roll call of everyone attending and if needed, have them state what company they work for and why they are involved in the call. Most importantly, be in control of the conference call and don’t let someone else take over and side-track discussions.
Whenever someone speaks, have them say who it is that is speaking. This is extremely important for conference calls with a large number of attendees. Too many people, especially on some of these conference call services, tend to sound the same. For instance, a person could say “This is Joe. I think…” blah, blah, blah. By everyone speaking their name before they say something, then you know who is doing the talking.
Wrapping Things Up
You should encourage everyone to give any feedback before the end of the conference call. If there are any discussions or topics that pop up that do not have any real relevance to the agenda of the conference call, then table that discussion for another time. Wrap up the call by briefly summarizing what you discussed and ask for any last minute comments from anyone. While you have everyone on the phone, it would be a good opportunity to set a date and time for the next conference call. You don’t necessarily have to have the call and authorization code set up yet. That information you can always email to the attendees. Before signing off, make sure your contact information for everyone is correct.
The Follow Up
Sometime after the conference call, you should send out an email to everyone that details the items that were discussed during the call. You can also mention any items that were tabled for later or any thoughts you might have had after the meeting. Be sure to give out again the time and date for the next call. By then you should have the phone number and authorization code to give to everyone.