My inbox was intriguingly peppered this morning with ideas on how to make the average conference call better. It got me thinking. I have been on a few “good” conference calls but for the most part, conference calls have gotten a much deserved, bad rap. Sasha Dichter’s blog, "Telephonitis," looks at one of the biggest problems – silence on the line. He had some great tips – check them out.
Seth Godin’s blog addresses this with another idea. Conference calls with an on live chat room. What a great way to get a sense of where people are at during the call. Allow people to, in a sense, talk over one another and share their ideas.
- Ask yourself why you are conducting this as a conference call – Is that the best way?
- What are you hoping to get out of this call? What’s your objective? If it’s just to “recap” information sent via email – is this really the best use of your time and others?
- Send out an agenda and have people submit questions or comments ahead of time.
- Stick to a start and end time – people are much more likely to hang in there and focus if they know you always start and end on time.
- Help manage participant’s time. If the entire call doesn’t pertain to everyone, start with the items that include everyone and let others sign off when their section is complete or have them join the call at a specific time.
- Write up a list of provocative questions. This often wakes people up and keeps their interest peaked.
- And yes, call on people. Trying to compete with several other people on the call to be heard (or more often – not heard) feels like being picked last for dodge ball. The leader needs to create space for each person to participate. It takes more work, but in the end, you will be able to hear from more people and get more feedback and ideas.
- Don’t replace conference calls with face to face or person to person interaction.
What ideas do you have? Any tips for participants? We would love to hear them!