How To Organize A Successful Conference Call
Conference calls can cover a wide variety of topics, but almost all calls and meetings follow the same rules for success. Meetings can end up being quite boring, thus losing the attention of the group and derailing the entire point of the call. Keeping a conference call organized and planning ahead can help you have more efficient conference calls altogether, to everyone’s advantage. Whether you’re the planner or the attendee, you’ll appreciate a better organized and more streamlined call every time. Here’s how to organize a successful conference call for your organization.
An Agenda is Your Best Friend
Make no mistake, the agenda is absolutely your best friend when it comes to planning a call. You can plan everything from the topic of conversation to the date, time, and online meeting software, to the people who are invited to the call. Agendas come in all different varieties, but their basic function is to act as simplified planning tools for meetings or calls. Always create an agenda a few days ahead of time, and share the agenda with everyone who will be attending the call.
Be certain to ask the attendees for any feedback or suggestions they have to improve the agenda or further streamline the meeting. You may have spent so much time doing other things that you missed a minor detail! Include your team in the planning process, and it will go much smoother and keep everyone happy.
Once the call begins, you’ll need to stick to the agenda as much as possible. The agenda is your call’s guideline, and if you plan to keep your call within the specified time frame, you need to use it. Remind callers who are being distracting or disruptive that the agenda is there for a reason, and that everyone in the call should follow it. Side conversations can derail the entire call, and although you’d probably rather be talking about politics or last night’s game, your conference call simply isn’t the time or the place for it. Stick to your agenda!
Invite the Right People
In the topic of side conversation, we come to another important point: inviting the right people. Inviting the right participants to the call can mean all the difference in a successful call, as there won’t be extra bodies to create distractions or side conversations. If you’re hosting an important finance meeting, ask yourself if Jen from marketing needs to attend. Does Jen have a stake in what’s being discussed or specific training or information that can help with the topic of discussion? If you answered no, it’s probably best to leave Jen out of the call (especially when Jen has a habit of talking about her daughter’s sports achievements instead of the conference material).
Include the guest list on your agenda, and make it as barebones as possible. Only invite those people who are directly involved with or affected by the meeting topics to avoid distractions like side conversations or non-work-related topics.
Along with your agenda, you’ll want to plan ahead for any information you’ll be presenting. If you’re going to be hosting a video conference call to give a presentation, you don’t want to be scrambling at 9:45 the night before to get your materials ready. Have everything ready for the meeting at least a few days ahead of time to give yourself some breathing room and to allow for any last-minute adjustments you may need to make.
The more you plan ahead, the more streamlined your entire meeting will be. People will respect someone who seems to know what they’re talking about, and your presentations will look and sound much better with more planning behind them. You’ll also feel less stressed about trying to prepare materials at the last minute!
Be On Time
One of the most important traits of any business professional is punctuality; the ability to be on time. Being late not only reflects poorly on your character, but it also makes the attendees feel disrespected, as if their time is not important to you. If you’re meeting with new people, that first impression is everything. You should always be on time for your meetings and encourage everyone in attendance to be as punctual as possible.
Ask for Feedback
Perhaps the best way to improve your conference calls is to ask for feedback from participants. What did they like about the call? What did they dislike? Was the online meeting software adequate? Sending a short email to each attendee after the call is completed can help you identify things about the call you otherwise wouldn’t have noticed yourself.
Planning, using an agenda, being on time, and asking for feedback are some of the best ways to organize a successful conference call. Next time you have an important call coming up, follow these tips to maximize your call’s efficiency and effectiveness.