Whether you’re hosting your very first conference call or your hundredth, there are certain guidelines you’ll want to follow to host a successful and productive call. Whether you’re using a mobile conferencing app or a landline, these guidelines apply to any conference call or meeting. From setting an agenda to taking notes and asking questions, we’ll cover everything you need to know to host the best calls possible. Keep reading to learn more about how to successfully host a conference call!
Send the Agenda Ahead of Time
Using an agenda is pretty much a requirement for a successful meeting, and sending it to the callers ahead of time should be a priority. Callers will want to know who’s attending the call, what the call is about, how long it will be, and any dial-in details they may need in order to join the call. By sending the agenda a few days ahead of time, you’re giving everyone ample opportunity to present their own questions or feedback, and allowing yourself plenty of time to address these concerns.
You can send your agenda via email or other messaging service, but be certain that you’re including all of the callers. This is also a good time to take a closer look at your guest list and ensure that you’re only inviting the right people to the meeting. Inviting the wrong people can cause a meeting to spiral out of control or create unnecessary distractions. Keep your guest list tight to ensure maximum productivity and efficiency for your conference calls.
Set Ground Rules/Expectations
Before the call begins, it’s vital that you lay down some ground rules regarding the call and what you expect from each caller. Ground rules should include things like don’t talk over other people, introduce yourself, and participation is a must. By setting these expectations early on, you’re ensuring that everyone in the call knows what you expect and can adhere to the rules you’ve set forth.
Additionally, these guidelines will help you identify those who do not wish to help the call be productive. Anyone who’s constantly breaking the rules or defying expectations can be removed from the current call and possibly future calls. Effective meetings aren’t chaotic mobs hurling opinions at each other, but rather organized events where everyone gets to speak and add constructive information to the conversation.
Be on Time/End on Time
If you’re the host of the meeting, you should always be on time. In fact, it’s always better to be at least a few minutes early if possible, just so you can be the first one in the meeting. Punctuality is incredibly important in a professional setting, especially if you’re a manager, supervisor, or leader of some kind. If you’re not on time for your own meetings, it gives the impression that you’re not serious about your job or the meeting itself, which can seriously damage the productivity of the call.
It’s equally as important to end the meeting on time, or preferably early. The shorter and more concise your meetings are, the better. Shorter meetings help keep everyone’s attention better, and the more concise the meeting is, the less you’ll get lost in the details. Make your points, ensure everyone understands, and move on. You don’t want to torture employees with a droning meeting that seems to last an eternity. Try to keep your calls under one hour if possible.
Take Notes and Ask Questions
You should absolutely take notes and ask questions during a meeting. Not only does this show your callers that you’re listening to what they have to say, but also that you’re invested enough in their input to ask questions about it. Be sure you’re asking the right questions as well, and not simply asking questions for the sake of small talk.
Good questions can offer you deeper insight into a subject you weren’t familiar with, and show a level of respect for the person who was just talking. Don’t be afraid to ask if you’re unsure about something!
Don’t Be Rude
We’ve all been in a meeting or call with someone who was downright rude; interrupting other callers, obnoxious background noise, or talking over everyone. This kind of behavior is both distracting and rude. Rudeness doesn’t impress anyone, and it certainly isn’t humorous during a serious conference call. If you’re trying to reach a certain goal and someone is being overtly rude, it might be a good idea to mute them or remove them from the call altogether.
Use common courtesy on conference calls. Don’t talk over people, use the mute button if your background is loud and distracting, and don’t interrupt someone who’s trying to make a point; even if you disagree with it.