Conference calls are not exactly the most exciting thing in the world to engage in. Many meetings are boring and mind-numbing enough as it is. When you have to deal with the added confusion of not being able to speak directly to your audience, you are likely to find that conference calls will also be rather dull as well.
Fortunately, with a little preparation you can keep your conference call from falling apart. Just like improving an actual, physical meeting, the trick is to keep the call organized and everyone on top of what needs to be done.
**Keep the noise level down.**Noise is significantly amplified over a speaker phone. Make sure everyone is on the same page and tries to keep the sound volume down as low as possible. Tell everyone to limit multitasking and restrict the room to people who are on the conference call. What do we do at Grasshopper on conference calls? Everyone stays muted until it’s their turn to talk.
**Speak slower than normal.**It is important to train your voice to speak slower than usual. People will have a harder time following you when they can't match your voice with your mouth or body language. Speaking slower will help your voice come across as a little bit clearer as well.
**Don't interject prematurely.**The moment people start cutting each other off or trying to have side conversations, the meeting is going to completely fall apart. Make sure that you wait your turn to speak so that you can maintain a semblance of order.
**Stay on cue.**Tangents are the death of any meeting, but the moderator may feel powerless to call the meeting back to order. Everyone has stuff they need to do and nobody wants to be at on conference call all day. Stay on point so that things can move along smoothly. Here, each meeting has to have an agenda and we have to stick to it. If things start to get off topic, for the sake of time and our sanity, we simply suggest it be taken offline. It keeps meetings shorter and to the point.
**Use your voice for emphasis.**Remember, 80 percent of communication is non-verbal. In a virtual meeting, you lose most of that. Your voice is about the only non-verbal key that you have left, so use it to convey humor or frustration to the other members.
**Take your call as seriously as any meeting.**Conference calls may be more difficult to work with than other meetings, but they are every bit as important. Take them seriously and stay organized so they will run smoothly.
Conference calls can be confusing and annoying, but they can go a lot smoother if you manage them properly. The biggest headache in dealing with a conference call is the fact that participants can't see each other. As long as you coordinate the call properly, you should be able to get a lot out of your conference call with minimal headaches.
As a company with employees spread out across the U.S., there is no shortage of conference calls here at Grasshopper. It’s important for us to make sure our conference calls are as productive and efficient as possible, so we try to stick to these 6 tips and also include video when possible.
How do you make conference calls less daunting and more productive? Share your tips in the comments section below!