Our workdays all tend to include some less-than-pleasant aspects, but nothing seems to garner a collective groan quite like a conference call. Modern technology has made it easy to talk to dozens of people across the globe simultaneously. However, no one ever claimed it was enjoyable.
Conference calls can be full of awkward pauses followed by five people trying to talk over one another. Inevitably, several people forget to mute their phones and most of the callers are doing some serious multitasking on the other end of the line. You look up and aren’t quite sure where your last hour went.
Conference calls aren’t going away anytime soon, though. So, how do we make them bearable? More importantly, how do we make them efficient?
TIME LIMITS & ORGANIZATION
Pick a reasonable length of time for the call and stick to it. If those calling in are expecting a 30 minute conference call and you eat up an hour of their time, no one is going to be happy or productive. If you see a need to go beyond the allotted time period, ask to schedule a second conference call or offer follow up thoughts via email.
Opinions vary on exactly how long a conference call should last. There seems to be a point around forty-five minutes or an hour (sometimes before) where everyone’s productivity levels plummet. Avoid this conundrum by organizing on the front end of the call. Form an agenda before the call even starts and stick to it. Start on time. If callers seem to be distracted (i.e. are busy multitasking on the other end of the call), consider a video call next time to hold everyone accountable.
ELIMINATE THE EXCESS
This seems like a no-brainer, but it merits saying anyway. Eliminate any unnecessary conference calls. Before scheduling or agreeing to a conference call, ask yourself if this is something that can be solved or discussed via email. Some regularly scheduled conference calls become such a habit we don’t stop to ask ourselves if we really have anything important to discuss. Thirty minutes later, we realize we’ve just wasted a large portion of our day simply meeting for the sake of meeting.
Manners serve us well in all areas of our lives. Surprisingly, they also serve us well on conference calls. Abiding by some basic etiquette during these calls can streamline the entire meeting. A few examples: Call in on time from a quiet location. Introduce yourself immediately. Don’t monopolize the conversation. Speak up and participate in the conversation. It seems silly for such basic things to make or break a conference call, but we all have conference call horror stories where you can hear crickets chirping or one person wouldn’t be quiet. If everyone comes prepared and pulls their weight on the call, things tend to run much more smoothly.
Your time is valuable, and we know you’re looking to maximize your day wherever possible. Why not take one of the dreaded parts of the work day and make it more efficient and enjoyable? For more tips on effective conference calls, click here or here.