An efficient call will be short, concise, and ensure that everyone walks away feeling satisfied with whatever goals they’ve reached or information they’ve obtained from participating in the call. Without efficiency, conference calls can often spiral into side conversation, costing time and even causing frustration or stress among participants. Keep your calls running smoothly with these five tips for running efficient conference calls.
1. Plan Ahead
Meetings with agendas generally flow better and stay within their time limits in comparison with those that have no planning. With a proper plan in place, you can help ensure that everyone stays on track, providing tangible goals to meet within a specific time-frame.
You’ll also help reduce side conversations or distractions when you write an agenda. Everything will be spelled out in time slots, leaving little room for distracting or irrelevant conversation. While casual conversation can help keep a conference call lighthearted, too much can derail the conversation and reduce efficiency and productivity.
An agenda should be short, concise, and contain the date of the call, the number or extension to dial, the guest list, and time slots for each discussion point; with a goal for each or an overall goal for the entire discussion. This will help whoever is leading the call rally everyone to a unified purpose and keep the callers on track to meet the proposed goals.
2. Use the Right Service
The right phone service can make all the difference in whether or not you’re hosting an efficient conference call. The days of calling in on landlines and paying ridiculous fees for more than three people on a call at once are nearly past thanks to web-based conference calling services.
With conference call video, screen sharing software, and a much larger supported caller volume, these internet conference services are reshaping the way businesses conduct conference calls. No longer will you be confined to only audio conferences, and important information can be shared with everyone directly in the call’s interface with document sharing tools.
Combining convenience and accessibility, online conference calling services will transform your meetings and increase their efficiency tenfold. Can’t have an in-person meeting? No problem! Use video conference software. Connecting (and staying securely connected) is easier and more affordable than ever!
3. Set a Time Limit
Perhaps the most important component of an efficient conference call is a strict time limit not only for each agenda topic but for the call duration itself. Sitting on a conference call for more than an hour can be exhausting, and the more exhausting the call, the less engaged the participants are likely to be.
Keep your time limits strict and be sure each caller is made aware of how much time each topic has been granted. Minimize side conversations to keep within your time limits and ensure that the call doesn’t consume an entire morning.
Hard time limits help keep everyone on track and unified under the idea of completing the call on time. The longer the call, the less efficient it becomes, so be sure your limits are reasonable and strictly enforced to maximize the productivity of each call.
4. Keep Everyone Informed
If you’ve ever been misinformed about a meeting’s time or agenda, you understand the frustration that comes with either false or incomplete information. You’re essentially walking into a meeting thinking of discussion points for something totally different than what you’re actually going to be covering.
Keeping everyone informed starts with your agenda. Email the completed agenda at least a few days in advance and gather feedback from your participants to be sure you’re not missing anything (or are covering too much). Be sure to pay attention to this feedback and act accordingly if you notice similar feedback from multiple people.
If any last-minute changes are made, be sure to update everyone as soon as possible and follow-up to ensure they received the email or message about these changes. Your team should have no trouble adapting to last-minute changes as long as they’re properly informed.
5. Invite the Right Participants
Including the right people in your conference call can make all the difference in the call’s efficiency. The wrong participants can only serve as a distraction from the call’s goals, derailing the conversation and possibly causing problems by discussing off-topic subjects.
Keep your guest list airtight and ensure you’re only inviting those participants who are relevant to the information being discussed in the call. Review your guest list thoroughly and ask yourself why each participant needs to attend. If you can’t think of a good reason, you’ll probably want to remove that person to keep the call on track.
A small but productive guest list will always outperform a large, unorganized one. Including too many people in the call makes it difficult for everyone to speak on the issues and can often cause the call to run over its time limit. Keep things simple and invite only those team members or clients who offer valuable input or have stock in what’s being covered.
More efficient conference calls means less frustration for both the organizers and the participants. Remember that in business, time is money, so the less time you spend tied up in a conference call, the more time and effort you can spend on the business itself. Always write an agenda, gather feedback, and keep everyone involved, choose a reliable service, and narrow down your guest list for maximum productivity.