Whether you’re meeting with a remote team or a foreign client, a phone conference is a great way for teams to overcome distance and connect. But if you’re not careful, phone conferences can easily turn into long, drawn-out time wasters, and people will dread attending your meetings.
But if you run your phone conferences properly, you’ll not only get enthusiastic responses to your meeting requests, you’ll also be able to hold enjoyable and effective meetings that aren’t a total waste of people’s time.
1. Remember Everyone
Unless your manager is “lurking” in a phone conference incognito, it’s only polite to let the other party know just who is in the room with them. You don’t even need to be all that specific. Just a name and job title is okay. There’s no need to let them know you’re breaking in the new guy unless they find that information important.
2. Respect the Mute Button
I’ve been in a couple of meetings where the guy manning the phone conferencing unit used the mute button liberally. He’d mute our end of the conversation and make snide comments about the other party while they were still speaking. It got a laugh from our side of the room, but it was very disrespectful. And can you imagine what would’ve happened if he thought the phone was muted when it actually wasn’t? That would’ve caused real problems—and even lost business.
If you want to talk to your team in private, save it for after the call. If it can’t wait, then let the other party know that you need to briefly consult with your team.
3. Be On the Same Page
I cringe whenever I hear someone ask “what are we going to talk about?” If you don’t know what you’re meeting about, why did you accept the invite? Send an agenda prior to every meeting, and if you’re discussing a document, make sure you both have the same version. This minimizes any verbal stumbles and keeps the meeting focused, which is a great way of keeping people’s attention.
4. Be Considerate
Always remember to be polite. At a phone conference, you don’t have body language to communicate interest. Instead, you have to do it by keeping silent while other people are talking—no talking, no shuffling papers, and no tapping on the keyboard (unless you’re taking notes). Don’t interrupt people in mid-sentence, and try not to be too loud, either.
5. Watch the Clock
It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re in a phone conference, because everyone’s attention is focused on the phone at the center of the table. But do try to keep a watch handy, and respect people’s commitments. Allow people to bow out gracefully if they have to leave in the middle of a meeting, and do offer to continue the meeting at another time if it looks like it will run long.
Do you have other tips for a great phone conference? Share them in the comments below!