Conference calls are great when face-to-face meetings are not possible. But when you are working with people over the phone rather than in person, there are some unique challenges.
Here are 7 tips on conducting effective teleconference meetings:
1. Prepare ahead of time. Make sure all participants know the number to call and send them the agenda and all necessary reports or other materials a day before the meeting. This gives participants time to get familiar with the agenda so they are able to prepare comments or questions.
2. Announce yourself. Have speakers announce who they are prior to talking if there are several participants on the call. Trying to discern voices over the phone can be difficult, which makes it hard to attribute who said what.
3. Take notes. Write down action items, questions, issues, and other important points during the call. It can be hard to remember exactly what was said after the meeting is done, so notes come in handy for referencing. Also, write down any comments or questions that come to your mind during the meeting, so you can raise them when it is your turn to speak.
4. Use mute. Sounds can be highly distracting on a conference call, so encourage everyone to use mute when they are not speaking. This ensures you can hear each other – and not clacking keyboards or background conversations.
5. Do check-ups. When on teleconference calls, the usual visual cues such as nodding, head-shaking, or looks of confusion are missing. To make sure everyone is on the same page, ask once in a while, “Does everyone agree with this solution?”
6. Keep the meeting on track. Everyone’s time is valuable, so it is important to keep the meeting moving along and cover all the agenda items. If one issue is taking too long to discuss, and it does not involve everyone on the call, have those who are involved address the issue on a separate phone call after the meeting.
7. Summarize the meeting. Review actions items and other important takeaways at the end of the meeting, and make sure all participants know what the next steps are. Send out meeting notes immediately following the end of the call, so everyone can review what was said when the call is still fresh in their minds.