If conference calling is a big part of your business, it may be time to upgrade to HD Voice from Afghan Wireless. Widely used by business leaders all over the world, HD Voice delivers twice the sound range of a standard call and is a leading choice for conference calls thanks to the improved clarity and superior sound quality that it offers.
However, whether or not your business is currently using HD Voice, there are still plenty of things you can do to ensure that your conference calls are both efficient and effective. Here are some of AWCC’s favorite conference-call tips for businesses:
Make sure the call is necessary.
Conference calls can be an excellent business tool, but they are not always the right format for every conversation. Sometimes, several one-on-one calls or a focused e-mail exchange are more effective. In general, it’s best to save conference calls for situations that require in-depth dialogue or group brainstorming.
Prepare in advance.
To achieve an effective conference call, you need to first create a clear agenda and circulate it ahead of time. A pre-set agenda enables everyone to be on the same page when the call begins. It also ensures that people who will be expected to offer opinions or report on complex topics will have time to prepare what they want to say beforehand.
Invite the right people.
No one wants to feel like their time is being wasted on a conference call, so you should limit the call list to only those people who need to be on the call. If you have one or more key speakers whose presence is essential (for example, if your company CEO is planning to speak to senior staff at an overseas office), make sure to send them a reminder before the call so that other participants aren’t kept waiting.
Designate a leader.
A good conference call needs a clear leader who will help steer the conversation and keep all participants on track. While this person doesn’t necessarily need to be a company executive, he or she should be someone with a good sense of organization and authority. The leader should identify themselves to all other participants at the beginning of the call.
Punctuality is even more important for a conference call than for an in-person meeting because you may need a few minutes to troubleshoot any technical difficulties. Dialing into the call a few minutes early gives all participants peace of mind and makes the best use of time by allowing the meeting to start promptly.
Even though HD Voice makes it much easier to recognize individual speakers on a conference call, it’s still good etiquette to identify yourself when you make a contribution to the discussion, particularly if you haven’t spoken much during the call. Having everyone introduce themselves at the beginning of the call will help get everyone comfortable with each other and make it easier to match names with voices throughout the discussion.
A situation that is all too familiar to frequent conference callers is the dead silence that can follow a question or a request for feedback. Call leaders can avoid this pitfall by encouraging participation from the outset and by continuing to check in and engage all participants throughout the call. It can also help to call on people by name for specific answers or feedback rather than throwing out a general question or comment and waiting for someone to respond.
Be sure to stick closely to the agenda. The surest way to lose the attention of call participants is to let the conversation wander into side topics or issues that aren’t strictly relevant to the matter you are discussing. An effective call leader should have no problem getting the call back on track if the conversation strays too far.
Keep it short.
Conference-call participants become less engaged the longer the conference goes on, so it helps to keep discussions brief and to the point. If some topics seem like they need more time, make a plan to discuss those issues later with the relevant people rather than having a lengthy three-person brainstorming session on a 20-person call.
Re-cap as you go.
Checking in with the group throughout the meeting helps to ensure that everyone is following and that there’s no disagreement or confusion about what has been said. Before moving on to a new topic, call leaders should restate what decision the group made or what action item the callers identified and ask if the participants have any questions.
Record the call.
If the call is likely to be particularly complex, or if it involves a large number of participants, it can be a good idea to record the call for reference in the case of future questions.