When preparing for a conference call, it’s important to remember that you will be representing your company, and you should be as professional as possible.
While each company has different guidelines and expectations, there are many basic, universal rules for attending a conference call. Use these tips to make sure that your bases are covered.
It’s very obvious if you have not prepared for a meeting in the office, and a conference call is no different.
There are a few additional precautions you can take to make sure you’re fully prepared:
Make sure that you have the correct time and date information for your scheduled conference call. Pay close attention to emails and/or office memos in case the call is rescheduled. If the call is scheduled across time zones, double check that the time you’ve been given is for your time zone.
Prior to a conference call, store the calling information in a place where it can easily be retrieved. If you plan to take the call on the road or from a remote location, store the calling information somewhere that can be accessed from your location. Even if you’re otherwise fully prepared for the call, having to look up the information last minute can be enough to make you late.
Will your call be held on a specific computer platform, such as GoToMeeting? This information should be provided in advance, and it is your responsibility that you have the technology with which to call in. Download any software in advance, and test it to make sure that it works before joining a conference call.
Using an external microphone or headset can be greatly beneficial to the quality of a call. These microphones are more direct, and they improve the sound of a cell phone call.
Refer to basic rules of courtesy when dialing in to a conference call. You wouldn’t eat or chew gum while at an office meeting, so don’t do it while on a call. Similarly, it’s rude to talk to others.
MAINTAIN GOOD CELL RECEPTION
This rule is pretty selfexplanatory. If you’re using a cell phone for your conference call, make sure your battery is fully charged and you’re in an area that gets reception. If your cell phone is unreliable, consider staying in your office or finding a better phone with which to call. It’s disruptive and unprofessional to have to call in again after your phone cuts out.
FOLLOW AN AGENDA
In order to cover all important topics in the designated amount of time, an agenda must be created. A typical agenda specifies the participants of the call, the calling information, the topics to be covered, and the time allotted to discuss each topic, along with additional information depending on the company’s preferences. Sticking to an agenda ensures that time will not be wasted.
A conference call without a leader can quickly turn chaotic. People want to share their opinions, show they’ve been listening, and take initiative, but too many people talking at once becomes a shouting match. Designating a leader is essential to keeping the meeting under control. The leader is responsible for keeping order, initiating conversations, and adhering to strict time constraints.
Many meeting topics will require a followup call. Participants may need time to ruminate on a newly introduced topic and have time to prepare feedback. More discussion may be appropriate after action is taken to move an idea forward. It is the responsibility of the call’s leader to make decisions and organize additional calls.