Thanks to the pandemic, most of us were forced to start taking part in conference calls, which can be quite irritating. Connection issues or someone forgetting to mute their microphone can turn a conference call into a nightmare.
Fortunately, things change for the better, and conference call technology is not an exception to that rule. Thanks to the fact that many people are now working remotely, audio and video conferencing platforms have significantly improved the user experience that they provide us with.
Nevertheless, the increased number of conference calls to handle daily has become a new kind of chronic pain for both remote and in-house employees. As a result, optimizing virtual meetings has become the top priority for many managers and team leaders.
If you can relate to that, then we are here to help you out! In this article, you will find several useful tips that should help you organize conference calls that will keep your team members motivated and productive.
Take Care of the Technical Issues
The initial step you need to take to ensure that your conference calls go smoothly is to provide the call participants with the information and tools they need to participate. There are several things you should take care of in advance to minimize possible issues.
- Ensure a stable internet connection. Double-check your connection speed and strength in the place where you plan to conduct the meeting. Ask other participants to do the same thing.
- Provide the participants with necessary accessories. If you are setting up a meeting at the office, make sure to provide other workers with all the necessary accessories that they might need, such as headsets and microphones. Quite a few of the best headphones under 50 bucks have a built-in microphone, making them a cost-effective solution for a big team.
- Send out the instructions. If you want other workers to join the conference call in a timely manner, make sure to provide them with all the information they will need to do so, such as the time and date when the meeting is supposed to take place, as well as a link to the meeting and a password.
Remember that approaching a virtual meeting well-prepared is extremely important, as it will allow your team to avoid having to deal with misunderstandings and delays.
Come up With Etiquette Rules
In order to avoid misunderstandings and awkward situations, you should provide other call participants with etiquette guidelines that they are expected to follow during the meeting. Here is a list of things that you should consider!
- Determine the amount of time you are willing to spend waiting for others to join the call.
- Make sure that the call participants know that they are not supposed to interrupt one another. Instead, you can encourage them to raise their virtual hand whenever they want to speak up.
- Determine whether you want the call participants to follow a specific dress-code.
- Think about whether you want the call participants to announce themselves whenever they join the call. Twenty people greeting one another might end up being really distracting.
- Inform the participants whenever you are planning on recording the meetings.
- Determine whether using a headset or a pair of headphones is obligatory or optional.
- Discourage the call participants from multitasking during online meetings
Creating conference calls etiquette rules that are tailored to your company culture will ensure that everyone knows how to act during the conversation. On top of that, it will prevent you from having to waste your time explaining such things during the call.
Set the Expectations
This is perhaps the most crucial step in preparing for a conference call. First of all, it allows you to determine whether you actually need that meeting. Do you really need to have a discussion on the topic? If not, you should consider sending out an email instead.
Secondly, clarify the main topic for discussion, its duration, and your expectations regarding its results. Determine whether you want people to share their thoughts and opinions during a certain part of the meeting or not and whether you should focus on developing a solution to a certain problem.
Lastly, make sure your colleagues perceive the conference call as a deadline. This will allow them to process its objective and come prepared, resulting in a more productive and less time-consuming meeting.
Create and Stick To the Agenda
If you want your conference call to be engaging, you need to create an agenda. The most efficient way to make an agenda is to divide the whole meeting into separate slots and make one person responsible for each section. Thus, you will ensure that all the aspects of an objective are covered, and that nobody will feel surprised once they are asked to speak out. Another crucial thing that you need to take care of is assigning a call leader that will facilitate the discussion and encourage active participation.
Having a versatile plan is vital for effective remote communication, and sticking to it will make the conversation much more fruitful. Additionally, if you notice that something needs to be discussed further, consider organizing a separate meeting to do just that.
Summarize and Ask for Feedback
Always make sure to create a separate slot at the end of a conference call that will allow you to conclude the meeting. This is an essential part of the meeting as it allows the team members to ask questions or additional comments on the topic. On top of that, it will allow you to ensure that everyone understands what the meeting was all about.
It is equally important to verbalize the request for constructive feedback and let people know that the best moment for sharing their thoughts and critique is now. While calling out people separately may be intimidating, it is the most effective way of collecting feedback. The intention is not to force participants to talk, but to ensure that everyone has their time and space to contribute to the conversation.
Audio or video conferencing may take up most of your working day in times of the pandemic, so it is crucial to ensure it does not have a negative impact on the productivity of your team. To succeed, you should eliminate all the unnecessary points that you do not need to cover during the meeting from the agenda and take care of solving potential technical issues.
Being prepared and emphasizing the end results is a combination that is the key when it comes to having a painless and engaging conference call. Dealing with as many details as possible before the call begins will save all of you a lot of time and allow your team to stay focused on the task at hand.