Fun Conference Call Ideas
By Karin Eldor
You look at your calendar and see that you have a conference call booked in the morning. Your initial thought?
“Oh, great. There goes my morning!”
This feeling of frustration is likely based on too many hours wasted on inefficient conference calls.
The truth is, conference calls are important in order to keep projects moving along and ensure everyone is looped in, especially with so many people working remotely, the rise of contract workers and virtual employees, international companies with offices in various cities, and partnerships with agencies.
But, they get a bad rap because people still don’t know how to do a conference call.
It’s kind of like email: it’s an essential tool in order to stay in touch and communicate with team members, but email misuse can also lead to unproductivity.
Knowing how to conduct meetings efficiently and like a #boss — no matter the management level you’re at — is a sign of a true leader. Managing a meeting effectively is a display of professionalism, whether it’s a conference call, a brainstorm session, or a regular meeting IRL. After all, we’ve already covered why meetings have received such a terrible reputation, in “The Art of Efficient Meetings.”
But you can help change that with this guide to conference call etiquette and fun conference call ideas.
Creative Techniques for Conference Calls
Here are some tips for running conference calls like a champ.
Do send an agenda and review it at the start of the call
People like to know what the conference call is about before the call. As the meeting owner, you need to steer and manage the conference call accordingly. If attendees start bringing up points that aren’t relevant, “park” the ideas by taking note of them, and then include them when sending a recap.
Do set up a dial-in number rather than “conferencing people in”
Conferencing people into a call can be disruptive. Instead, set up a dial-in line and number so that all attendees can join the call independently, and make sure everyone has the correct dial-in.
I can’t tell you how many conference calls I’ve been on where the wrong number was given or the “meeting code number” just didn’t work.
Do be 5 minutes early
Anticipate possible technical issues with a conference call. Dial in early so that you’re on the line and can ensure everything’s running smoothly. There’s nothing worse than being late to the conference call you organized!
Do limit background noise
Try to choose a quiet room or location, as background noise can be incredibly disruptive. If you have no choice, put the phone on “mute” while you’re simply listening so that the noise is muted out.
Don’t backtrack for latecomers
Unfortunately, there will always be latecomers who *ping in* once the call has already started. Don’t recap everything that’s been discussed and bring that person up to speed — it will not only reward the bad behaviour of being late, but will also really frustrate those who were on time.
When people join conference calls late, it leads to interrupted momentum and increased distractions.
Do limit the number of attendees
Conference calls with too many people can get out of hand, so try to keep it limited to a select list of attendees. And if someone says they need to “drop off,” let them — there’s no use in keeping someone on the line if they feel they need to be somewhere else.
Do a “roll call”
Only if the conference call is with a new team, let everyone on the line introduce themselves, with their name as well as title or role.
Do “go around the table” and let everyone have a say
By the same token, let everyone on the call get a turn to add their two cents — it will ensure everyone is engaged and listening actively.
It can be tempting to answer emails and work on other projects while you’re on a conference call — especially if you’re simply an attendee. According to an article published by Inc. called “The Sad Truth About Conference Call Behavior (and How to Fix it),” 82% of participants are working on something unrelated while on a conference call. But if everyone is multitasking, then no one is 100% engaged and listening actively. Avoid the urge!
Do recap at the end
Use the last 3-5 minutes of your call to recap the main points and important action items.
Do quit while you’re ahead
If your call wraps up ahead of schedule, then great — congratulations! You’ve successfully navigated and managed a conference call. Don’t bring up a whole new topic now with a, “So while I have you all here…” End on a high note.
So with that, go forth and lead those conference calls like a pro.