Newsletter - Learning Matters - No.25

Teleconference Calls - Top Tips

In tough times businesses are looking for ways to cut down on unnecessary expense and naturally travel costs are always under close scrutiny. Not only does it save on carbon emissions but there can be tremendous time saving and cost benefits to holding more 'meetings' via the telephone or web conferencing.

We cannot simply expect to manage and facilitate effective teleconference calls without proper planning and consideration. Good teleconference calls achieve the desired result quickly and cost-effectively while bad calls merely waste time, frustrate the participants and quite possibly result in a face to face meeting to clear up misunderstandings and clarify the way forward.

How many times do you schedule a face to face meeting just because you can? Or because the meeting had always been done that way?

Once you become skilled and more confident in managing teleconference calls you can achieve better, quicker results and save your company money along the way.

If you want to use teleconference calls as an effective business tool click on the link below for our Teleconference Call Top Tips

Some basic rules

  • It is important to keep everyone's interest during teleconference calls - the facilitator needs to keep a written note of who has said what and in which order he/she has asked them a question
  • Always use people's names to get their attention before asking a question. It keeps them listening!
  • Be a confident and assertive facilitator - there is nothing more frustrating than a call that goes off track due to the facilitator's lack of control. People expect someone to take charge of the call, make sure they all know who that person is!
  • Focus on open questions:
           what - where - when - why - who - how

Before the call

  • Try out your teleconference facility to make sure you can enter the room and everything is working as it should
  • Make sure everyone is informed of the date and time of the conference call and any phone numbers / passcodes well in advance and that they get a reminder the day before
  • Send a list of people who are expected to be on the call and their role in the organisation if necessary
  • Include the call objectives so that every participant is clear on their contribution to the call and in achieving the desired end result
  • Let people know in advance if they need to prepare anything for the call

During the call

  • Start with the outcome(s) you expect people to gain from the call, i.e. 'By the end of this call you will have a thorough understanding of the new XY project, your role in the project team and you will share your ideas on how to roll the project out.'
  • Ask everyone to introduce themselves clearly and briefly, letting them know exactly what information you would like them to impart, e.g. 'Can we please go round the group and give our name, division of the company and job role. I will start...'
  • The key to a successful teleconference call is to keep everyone engaged. The best way to do this is to ask questions so that people are contributing throughout the call

Example probing questions

  • Bill, how does Freda's suggestion fit with your department?
  • Tom, where do you see Mary's idea working within your project?
  • Cathy, who in your department could use that idea?
  • Harry, when can you see that working for you?
  • Brenda, what can you take from the call so far and use in your section?

Questions to elicit feedback

  • Hardeep, why have you been so quiet? What are your thoughts so far?
  • Emma, who has said something so far that you can really relate to?
  • Lucy, what has struck a chord with you in the call so far?
  • Glen, how do you feel about the subjects discussed so far?

Questions to test understanding

  • Linda, could you please summarise what has been said about...
  • Chris, what's your understanding of...
  • Andy, would you please recap on the key points covered so far...

Ending the call
At the end of the conference call it is most effective to ask each participant to commit to action points that they are going to implement as a result of the call. The facilitator asks each person for their actions which he/she makes a note of, following them up in writing (email) to the whole group.

Learning Curve - Reading, Berkshire, England: +44 (0)118 987 5683

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