A few months ago, someone in the office stumbled on this YouTube video about conference calls. We couldn’t stop laughing.
It depicts what a conference call would look like in real life. The video includes all of the blunders you might encounter on one of these virtual meetings, from the dropped call to the dreaded “am I the only one on here” to the guy whose dog starts barking in the middle of the meeting (how does that happen every time?).
We’ve encountered every one of these situations, more than once. Little wonder the video has more than 13 million views.
After we passed the video around the office, and shared it with our clients we knew would get a kick out of it, it got us thinking: How can you have a better conference call?
As recruiters, we spend a lot of time doing these calls, and that experience has taught us a great deal. Here are a few tips we came up with:
1. Limit the Background Noise
There’s nothing worse than not being able to hear what the other people on your call are saying. Never conduct a call at a busy coffee house or outside. What may sound to you like a dull roar makes it impossible for others to hear.
2. Give the Call Your Full Attention
Have you ever been on a call when you hear people typing or whispering directions to their assistant? It’s distracting and, worse, disrespectful. When you take a call, stay off your other electronic devices and concentrate on the topic at hand. If a true emergency comes up, state your regrets and step off the call instead of trying to do two things at once.
3. Anoint a Leader
Unfocused conference calls are the worst. Either no one steps forward to focus the call or everyone tries to talk at the same time. Before the call begins, put one person in charge of leading it and staying on task.
4. Have a List of Topics
How many times have you hung up the phone only to realize you failed to discuss something really important? We’ve been there. Alas, it’s really hard to get everyone’s schedules to match up again, and emailing your questions is hit or miss, so it could be weeks before you get the answers you need. That’s why you should jot down a list of topics you need to hit beforehand, as a visual reminder.
5. State Your Name Before You Speak
Even if you’re talking with people from the office whom you see every day, it can be confusing to pick out the right voice on the conference call. Offer frequent reminders (“This is Susan—could you please repeat that figure?”) so people know who’s talking.
6. Limit Calls to Six People Maximum
When you have too many people, it’s difficult to engage, and that can lead to participants tuning out. You want to keep everyone involved in the conversation. Remember, you can always send out notes from the call or offer it on playback for those who need to know the information but don’t need to attend.