Boost Engagement with These Tips for Better Conference Calls
We’ve all been on one of those conference calls – someone speaks and it sounds like they’re two miles away, the other party can’t access that webinar you put together, you realize you’re the last person to dial into the call…by several minutes. Though they’re slightly more casual than an in-person meeting, you shouldn’t take conference calls lightly. Being ill-prepared can completely affect how the other party perceives you, and when you’re not in-person, you have to make a bigger effort to make a good impression.
That being said, it’s hard to do that when you’ve never received training and you’re not sure what the other party is going to be judging you on. To make sure all goes smoothly, here are a few preparatory tips.
Know how to Use the Software
So you just got a new setup. That’s great – but a conference call shouldn’t be your first time messing around with it. By the time you have this call, you should have played around with it enough that you know how to troubleshoot if something goes wrong. More importantly, you should at least know how to mute and unmute.
Have a Plan B
No matter how prepared you are, technology isn’t perfect. Know what you’re going to do if something does happen to go wrong. For example, create and send out a PowerPoint version of your electronic webinar in case it doesn’t work, or have another conference room as backup if the phone is acting up.
Ready the Space
If this is going to be a lengthy conference call with a lot of people on it, make sure that there are plenty of chairs and that everyone can hear or be heard. Do a dry run by having someone call the phone to test the speaker. Also, put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door so that no one walks in mid-call, much to your embarrassment. In some cases, it’s a good idea to print or e-mail agendas to all who will be on the call so everyone can be on the same page.
Treat it Like an In-Person Meeting
You’re hosting this meeting, whether it’s virtual or in-person. You wouldn’t be the last to show up to a meeting that you’re holding, so don’t be the last to dial into the room, either. Introduce people who don’t know one another and greet people as they call in. Make sure that everyone is up-to-speed on what is going to be discussed and that they have the right materials in front of them.
Encourage Polite Behavior
Let your co-callers know that they can mute themselves if they’re only listening rather than talking – this will cut down on background noise and confusion. Let everyone know who’s speaking and ask them to do the same, as it can be confusing to try to figure out voices. Send out a meeting invite before the call and ask everyone to confirm that they’ll be on board. It’s these small steps that make things go much more smoothly for a productive call.