As I scroll through various social media feeds I see countless complaints about none other than conference calls. Sure, we all have the tedious, boring and what feel like pointless conference calls on a semi-regular basis but by like token many productive and satisfying conference calls take place as well. Much of the success of a conference relies on etiquette. Nobody likes to sit across the dinner table from somebody who chews with their mouth open in the same way that no one wants to sit on a conference call with people who don’t seem prepared and are not organized.
A recent article in the Houston Chronicle outlined some basic guidelines for best practice before, during and after a conference call that can ensure a productive experience.
Before: Before any numbers are dialed or talking points discussed one must first create an agenda for the meeting. This can be talking points, an outline or list of tasks—anything help guide the organization of the call. Location, location, location. If the call is from the office, a quite room with a round table is optimum, but from home a quite place is just as suitable. This is vital to avoid repetitious comments and ensure all parties are in clear communication. Finally, make sure to test your phones so that there are no technology snafus when trying to initiate your conference call.
During: All parties should have an agenda or list of tasks in front of them, but most importantly it is imperative for the “leader” to ensure the necessary tasks are completed on the call. While discussing points on the call one should not interrupt others speaking and allow all parties to speak on a subject manner before chiming in again. Once all parties have spoken, feel free to give your additional input but avoid droning on—aka “killing a dead horse”—because that doesn’t help anybody. A point of interest is the mute button. When taking notes on a computer the mute button can help provide that one’s keyboard isn’t interfering with the conversation. Conversely, the mute function is not there to turn around and talk to co-worker about lunch or eat lunch for that matter.
After: Something I do on every conference call I participate is take notes—especially if speaking with a client for the first time. The only way for me to remember all that was discussed is to take clear notes, and the best way to keep all participants on the same page is to share one’s notes from the meeting. If a client sees that I am proactively engaging him/her and his/her business’s focus than I’m one step ahead of the game, and we all share the same understanding of what took place during the meeting.
The complaints on social media may pile up about the agony that is a bad conference call, the benefits of conference call services offer business capabilities it has never experienced. And, if one chooses to follow a simple guideline of proper conference call etiquette like that above future Tweets may have a more positive spin.
Edited by Alisen Downey