New to conference calls? Intimidated by the video that went viral a while back?
Seven tips for better conferencing.
First, restrict small talk to the first few minutes and be ready to get down to business.
Second, outline the agenda with quick bullet points. Identify who will take the lead on each topic.
Third, early in the call, especially if people don’t know each other well, identify yourself quickly when you speak if you weren’t called upon. Like, “Jackie here with a thought…”
Fourth, avoid questions to the group with an obvious “yes” answer. Instead, ask people to speak up only if there’s an objection.
“Is that okay with everyone?”
(This results in a confusion of simultaneous “yes” answers.”)
“Who has an objection or correction?”
Fifth, call on individuals if there’s something everyone needs to weigh in on.
“What does everyone think about that?”
“Let’s hear what everyone thinks about that. Let’s start with Alice, then Jason, then Steve. Alice?”
Sixth, never attempt to interrupt the way you would in a face-to-face conversation. If it becomes necessary to interrupt, do it very forcefully but politely. Casual interruptions only confuse the situation. But do this only when needed.
“Excuse me, excuse me! Rachel here, and I’m worried we just blew past the issue of…”
And finally, the best tip of all? Move to videoconferencing with Facetime, Google Hangouts, Skype, or Zoom. I’m a big fan of Zoom. Making the small effort to make faces visible to each other increases understanding and efficiency.
People experienced with conference calls already know much of this, but I’ve witnessed some awkwardness and confusion with people new to them. That’s why I share these tips.