Bryan Brulotte - Unity. Prosperity. Compassion. #CanadaUnited

Dreading your next conference call? Do your meetings always feel chaotic? Are they unorganized? Does it feel like no one is in charge or is paying attention?

You can increase meeting success while decreasing stress by spending a bit of time before and on your call more efficiently. This way, your colleagues and clients are more likely to find value in the call, engage more intently and attend your meetings more frequently. All it takes is a little preparation and organization for conference calls to be productive and drive progress.

1. Create an agenda

Don’t allow any of your callers to enter the meeting blindly. Write up a clear meeting agenda. Include the names of participants who will be speaking and what topic they are responsible for. Also, include any pre-meeting prep that you need your participants to complete before the meeting. This way, everyone will come prepared and be more likely to spend their time efficiently. You can also limit people talking over one another if they can refer to the agenda to know whose turn it is to speak.

2. Set a time limit

Consider how long you call needs to be – and stick to that limit. If your guests know that they only have 20 minutes to get things done, they will be more likely to stay on track. A time limit will reduce side conversations and tangents. If necessary, assign a timekeeper to ensure everyone stays on track.

3. Provide accurate dial-in information

I’d venture a guess that a large percentage of conference calls are delayed because guests are confused about dial-in information. Send clear, step-by-step instructions for connecting to the call, and include all dial-in numbers. Using a calendar integration is a great way to decrease human error. Test your conference line yourself before you send out information to make sure your call line will work during your meeting.

4. Mute callers as needed

Limit background noise distractions by taking control and muting callers if you need to. This feature will help you stay on track and make the most of your call time. You can even activate “Lecture Mode” during your call so that only the host and guest speakers have speaking rights.

5. Ask for questions in advance

Can you streamline your meeting by asking for questions in advance? This move may be appropriate in certain situations, such as large webinars. You may be able to address everyone’s concerns by incorporating your answers within your presentation. This is also a great way to prepare for a formal Q&A session held at the end of the conference call.

6. Add video conferencing with screen sharing 

Consider meeting face to face and using screen sharing on a video conference to bring a visual element to your meeting. Screen sharing is perfect for sharing presentations, videos, demos, documents and any other media you have on your desktop. It can help you and your audience literally get on the same page faster.

7. Outline clear next steps

The conference call will be a waste of time unless you agree on the next steps. Who’s responsible for what before the next meeting? Any deliverables and deadlines you need to outline? Make sure you lay these out for everyone at the end so you can keep productivity up.

Remember to arrive prepared and stay on topic for the most effective conference meetings. Your guests will thank you.