The challenge of conference calls!!
Updated: Jun 8
We can all remember the unexpected but unmistakable sound in council chambers: a toilet being flushed!! However how many times has this actually happened within the last few months.
As we all get to grips with working from home, it is apparent that the hourly conference call is becoming more and more important to the way that we work. Whether it's a simple catch up with co-workers to discuss how the hell we balance working and parenting to the more strategic Q2 financial reports (of which no one is enjoying at the moment unless you are Jeff Bezos).
Don't get me wrong there are some companies and organisations that are thriving within the current economic climate however we all are aware that there are many challenges for so many companies.
So how important has conference calling become to keep these businesses operating?
Below we look at some of the mistakes we are making and how we can improve these experiences......
Mistake #1: Not having an agenda
Imagine walking into a meeting which you are holding without having a clue what you are going to discuss. Don't get me wrong, I imagine at some point we have all blagged similar meetings however this has to be the ultimate mistake.
Prepare and share a detailed agenda that breaks down the parts of the call, the approximate timing for each part, and what you expect to get out of the call overall. This will allow all attendee's to be on the same page and more importantly everyone will know what to expect and how long it will be.
Mistake #2: Send invites and remind attendee's
"Is anyone out there......??" How often do you spend at the start of the call discussing who is on the call?? and more importantly who isn't? - Do they know the time changed? Are they working today?
Without having the face to face contact with your colleagues it is imperative that you organise properly, so there is no time wasted in waiting for people. Send formal invites, with reminders. Set the tone from the first invite.
Mistake #3: Failing to use conference call etiquette (and possibly my favourite)
Mute, mute, mute. Possibly the most important function when on a conference call. If you think about it, anybody can dial in to the call in any location whether that is a bedroom, a lounge, study or even toilet (It has been done).
With this, comes a more relaxed feel to the call. Remember to be aware of this. Do not let this lead to casualness which could jeopardise your normal professionalism and performance on the call.
Also if you do need to take a 'break', make sure the audio is off and the camera is facing an appropriate direction.
Mistake #4: Forgetting to take notes
As I mentioned previously, you need to prepare well for the call however do not forget to capture the conversations. Typically I would have a note taker if we were having a face to face meeting. A conference call should not be any different.
You should not lose vital discussions which will be beneficial to future calls. If the environment has become relaxed this is something that could be quite easily missed.
Give someone the responsibility and make sure that these are sent out after the call.
Mistake #5: Making your point
I can confidently say that I am not an expert when it comes to conference calls however I am aware that each call I take or attend can be improved in some way or another.
As the 'conference call' becomes more and more important with the way we work, this is such an important point. Everybody retains information in different ways and we should all be aware of this.
We are lucky that we have functions such as sharing screens and audio, so use these to get your point across. If you want to really make sure a point has hit home, make sure that your have shared this across multiple mediums, so everyone can absorb this information in their own way.
Mistake #6: Not getting feedback
Ask for feedback on each call. Was the location right? did the audio work? Did the presentation work for everyone?
Like all face to face meetings there is usually something which could be improved and a conference call is no different. Feel free to obtain this feedback. We are all in a situation where we are using conference calls more and more within our daily lives, so we should seek to improve.