Earlier this week I had the pleasure of being a guest on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, on News 95.7. Our conversation was about conference calls, now a part of daily life for most of us.
Sheldon connected with me because of all the versions of conference call bingo showing up online. While these bingo cards are incredibly funny, they are also truthful and support the fact that … most conference calls are extremely ineffective and hinder productivity long after they end.
What skills are needed for productive conference calls? How can they easily be shared with your team?
Every great conference call, whether it’s on the phone or includes video, requires a facilitator. This can be the same person each time, or team members can take turns and share the responsibility.
The facilitator supports the success of these calls by:
- Creating an agenda for each call
- Circulating the agenda prior to each call
- Asking participants how they’d like to contribute
- Making sure everyone knows who will be on the call
- Knowing how to use the technology
- Confirming participants understand the technology
- Arriving early
- Limiting social conversations to others who arrive early
- Limiting the length of the call (shorter daily calls are far more effective than long weekly calls)
- Starting the call on time
- Inspiring participation by encouraging everyone’s thoughts/reactions/input
- Using firm diplomacy to defuse constant talkers and naysayers
- Adding unfinished discussions to the next agenda
- Ending the call on time
Participants support the success of conference calls by:
- Reading the agenda ahead of time
- Telling the facilitator how they’d like to contribute
- Understanding the technology
- Confirming their attendance
- Arriving early
- Limiting their social conversations
- Never putting the call on hold
- Using “mute” to limit background noise
- Using their camera on video calls
- Encouraging others to contribute
With a little creative push from my colleague, Linda Daley of Daley Progress, I’ve decided to offer my own bingo card. This one focuses on conference calls that are effective, efficient and engaging. Get it here: Conference Call BINGO by The Phone Lady
What about you? What are you and your team doing to create productive conference calls? Please leave your suggestions in the comment section below.