No one looks forward to conference call days. Yet we rely on them more and more, as globalized business ventures and remote work are becoming the norm in today’s corporate collaboration culture.
Regardless of how you feel about conference calls, it is beneficial to get really good at them. Master the art of online business meetings, and an entire globe of professional opportunities will be within your reach.
1. Evaluate Your Software
If the first fifteen minutes of your conference call is spent trying to help people join the meeting, you need better software. That’s how much time is eaten up on average, just to get started. Your time—and the time of your colleagues, clients, and remote workers—is more valuable than that. Look for software that offers easy access to your conference calls, so you can set the tone for a productive meeting.
The best software gives users the option to join meetings via the web or a mobile app with the click of a button. If they need to dial in, they should be able to call a local or toll-free number that takes them directly to the meeting instead of incurring charges for the call and having to enter a series of complicated passcodes.
Systems like Vast Conference offer online business meetings that integrate with your calendar apps, allowing you to schedule conference calls and send invitations with all the joining details, right from the app.
Participants can RSVP to invitations, and the event will automatically be added to their calendar. A reminder pops up just before it is time for the meeting to start, and they can simply click the provided link to join.
In addition to simple joining options, your system should have comprehensive meeting controls that allow you to make the most of everyone’s time. Screen and file-sharing, mute options, and presenter hand-offs ought to be a standard part of the package.
2. Make Sure Everyone Knows How to Use the Software
Though you shouldn’t have to be a tech guru to use your conferencing software, not everyone is at the same level of competence when it comes to modern gadgets. One way to make sure everybody in your office understands how to use your software is to have a training session. If getting the whole team together is too much of a project, you could record a session and circulate it through email.
Some systems offer demos and comprehensive customer support, to ensure that everyone who will be using the software feels confident and competent. If you have a system that offers this service, take advantage of it.
Finally, though participant controls are simpler than host controls, you want to spend some time confirming that anyone with whom you regularly hold conferences also has a thorough understanding of their end of the software used in your online business meetings.
3. Create a Meeting Agenda Ahead of Time
A meeting agenda serves several purposes:
- Gets everyone on the same page about the material that will be covered.
- Gives participants time to prepare any questions they have.
- Sets up expectations for the conference.
- Lets everyone know you are prepared and mean business.
- Keeps things on track.
Creating a meeting agenda is not complicated. Simply think about the points you want to cover in your meeting, the order in which they will be covered and the amount of time you intend to spend on each point. Ask attendees for input so no one feels left out.
Keep in mind that you will need to remain flexible, but having an outline during your conference call will keep everything productive.
4. Get a Helper
It doesn’t really matter that you can pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time. Humans are still terrible at multitasking, and it is not even good for your mental health.
Knowing your software and your material inside and out can help you successfully get through your meeting, but having someone operate the controls and assist with your meeting flow can be invaluable. Especially if you have complicated material to cover or a high-volume conference with a lot of participants who may have questions.
If you do not have anyone able to help you manage your conference call, check with your software service. Some offer operator-assisted calls that can be a lifesaver when you are trying to keep it all together.
Operators can coordinate with you ahead of time to line up your meeting goals and expectations, greet and introduce participants, and keep things flowing smoothly throughout the call.
5. Use Recordings and Transcripts
Your software should record your calls and store them in the cloud for future review. Many services also offer typewritten transcripts. In order to keep participants present and engaged, let them know that those items will be available to them.
This way, they will focus on the meeting while it is happening, instead of getting lost because they are frantically trying to keep up with taking notes.
Now that you have the right software and you are fully prepared, leading a conference call should no longer feel like rocket science. Having the right tools and knowing how to use them will help you get through all your meetings efficiently and successfully, wowing your clients and establishing your expertise with your co-workers.