Follow this guide for efficient and productive remote meetings
Conference calls connect multiple participants at the same time over a phone, no matter their current location. They are a set standard in today’s dynamic business environment. Teleconference is a widely adopted solution for frequent and effective business communication with callers from afar.
In order to conduct an effective remote meeting, there are ground rules of what to do and what to avoid during an audio conference. Following the conference call’s etiquette ensures the high efficiency of this valuable collaboration tool.
Below are listed the best practices of effective audio conferencing and the most common mistakes transferring any teleconference into a failure.
1. Plan the conference call
Preparation for the voice conference should be done before the meeting starts. This will ensure your successful and meaningful communication with the participants.
Do – choose the place without background noise
Choosing a quite location is essential if you host or participate in a conference call. Background noise is a key factor for distracting the attendees during the meeting over a phone. Barking dogs, a crying baby or some loud music from outside, any interfering noises should be filtered out. That way the audio conference is kept professional.
Consider three main solutions to this problem:
- find a sound-isolated space, from where you connect
- use a professional conferencing system with a built in noise proof technology
- master the use of the mute and push to talk buttons
Sound proofing is not always an option. That’s the reason why muting and unmuting the lines is an important function of the conferencing devices. This way all the participants of the conference calls can hear only the person speaking at the time. This limits to a certain extent the natural flow of telecommuting.
In case the host uses a feature-rich soundproof conference phone system the speakers can still be heard, while the unwanted background noise is suppressed.
Do – find the most convenient date and time
To find the most appropriate moment for conducting the conference requires additional information regarding the invitees’ timetables. If the audio conference involves parties from different time zones, this should be considered as well.
If possible avoid planning the business meeting early morning, late in the evening or at lunch time. Usually at these times of the day the attention span of the participants is minimal.
Do – prepare a detailed agenda
It is highly recommended to have the conference call agenda ready and distributed before the teleconference starts. Thus the attendees are expected to be well prepared when they join.
Having a detailed plan keeps the meeting properly structured and it is easier for callers to avoid self-destructing.
If there are additional files related to discussion, share them along with the agenda ahead of time.
Don’t – forget to inform and remind the attendees
Sending out an email with the precise date and time of the meeting is a compulsory step in the teleconference planning. Another significant information to be included in the email is a link to the teleconference app or website with access data.
It is a good practice to remind the participants about the conference. Confirmation for participation can be requested one day prior to the meeting.
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2. Before the meeting starts
Do – arrive on time
Without doubt this is the golden rule for any effective meeting.
The host of the teleconference has to be earlier than scheduled to settle in. If unexpected technical issues concerning the conference appear they should be solved on time. Being earlier ensures that the organisation of the meeting is handled properly.
The conference call participants should be punctual as well. Dialing in later than the prearranged time causes an unpleasant interruption of the ongoing discussion. It also distracts everyone if the details, previously debated, should be repeated to the newcomers.
Do – Learn the tech before the start
This rule applies for all the parties of the conference call. The users should be acquainted with all the phones, network connections and buttons that support the meeting.
Calling devices and other equipment like speaker phones and microphones should be tested and adjusted beforehand. This ensures smooth communication and effective real-time discussion during the remote meeting.
Do – record the call or have someone taking notes
If possible use the recording feature of the conference phone system. Otherwise a dedicated person should participate during the call conference to take detailed notes of the discussion. The gathered information can be analysed later to outline the strengths and weaknesses of the conducted conference call.
Don’t – forget the login access details
Most of the dial in conference calls require entry pin code and local access phone number. They should be easily accessible right before the teleconference starts. Signing in on the conference line is your virtual entering the meeting room.
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3. During the meeting
Follow the conference call etiquette for successful business communication.
Do – introduce yourself and encourage the attendees to do so
Starting with the so called “roll call” is an efficient approach even if the invitees are already acquainted. A brief introduction of the participants is always necessary so that everyone has a clear idea who they are talking to.
Also it is strongly advisable for the participants in the discussion to state their names each time before speaking. This helps avoid miscommunication, everyone feels engaged and listens actively to learn who is on the other side of the line.
Don’t – do small talk
Small talk is not recommended during a conference call. It is not a positive experience having to listen to private conversations between the meeting attendees. Additionally it has an attention diverting effect. Therefore the small talk should be done before or after the official part of the business conversation.
4. Keep it simple and concise
Do – follow the agenda strictly
Having a detailed agenda with the conference call goals and a set time limit of the meeting is not enough. Everyone should have the plan at their disposal when the audio conference begins. Once it starts the conversation has to follow the prearranged schedule. This ensures a smooth communication and productive team collaboration.
Don’t – forget to review the agenda
After the initial introduction of the invitees the audio conference usually continues with the agenda review. The conference host should not forget to go briefly through the meeting plan in the beginning. Otherwise the meeting could turn into a spontaneous group chat.
If the participants ignore the agenda their input will be like a random brainstorming. Not only this has a negative impact on the meeting outcome, but it sets a wrong example for the future teleconferencing.
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5. Be an excellent conference host
Do – talk slowly and clearly, allow everyone to participate actively
The professional host allows everyone to comment and give their insight on the conference call topic. Thus the main subject of the discussion stays in focus during the meeting and attendees engage actively.
Talking slowly and clearly ensures that the attendees understand the delivered message. It also showcases how they should speak during the audio conference.
Don’t – permit participants to talk over
No one should speak for too long on certain subject of the agenda. After all the meeting is expected to be a dialogue form of communication rather than a monologue speech. Also maintaining a professional tone of the conference conversation means that callers should not interrupt each other or to talk altogether.
6. Pay attention, engage and be active
Do – stay focused during the conference call
Paying attention during the conversation is the core of an effective teleconference. This is equally important for all the parties involved. The host of the meeting, should not be distracted being personally responsible for following the agenda of the audio conference. The participants have to be actively engaged by asking relevant questions at the proper time of the discussion.
Don’t – try to do multitasking
In order to be productive, multitasking during the conference call should be avoided. It is strongly advisable to concentrate fully on the problems related to the current call session. Otherwise you could not participate effectively in the discussion. Answering emails, phone calls or dealing with issues of personal matter should be done after the business meeting ends.
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7. Keep the professional atmosphere
Do – have your desk or table clean
Flexibility of the conference call, allows the participants to join a virtual meeting from anywhere and from any device.
While utilizing this important benefit of audio conferencing, do not forget that it is a business communication tool. This means your desk or coffee table are required to be in excellent state. Clean it from floating papers, cooking sets and any other personal sound providing belongings.
Don’t – eat during the teleconference
You can dial in the conference room right from your kitchen or nearby coffee shop. Regardless of your current location, during the call you are still working.
That’s why eating any kind of meal or snack should be strictly avoided. It is considered one of the major conference calls faux pas. Remember that eating sounds are amplified by the phone line. Especially if the caller is near the microphone and the mute button is not switched on.
8. At the end of the conference call
Do – wrap up the business conversation on time
Keep the business call to the length that was already announced. Respecting everyone’s valuable time is very important for future collaboration with the conference call partners. Finishing according to the schedule shows that the host has managed the meeting successfully.
Don’t – forget to sum up the achievements and to set new goals
Outlining the key points that were discussed and the results of the meeting should be done before it ends. The host of the call should underline the objectives that were accomplished. Also new tasks can be assigned to the participants for the next remote meeting.
Thanking everyone for attending the audio conference is as important as inviting them. It shows their presence is important and appreciated.
9. Evaluate the remote meeting
Do – ask for feedback
Send a follow up email on the same day. A summary of the audio conference and the future assignments should be included. In order to review the meeting efficiency the conference host has to ask the attendees for feedback.
Don’t – ignore the comments and critics
Read the feedback of the participants and consider their remarks. Make the necessary adjustments in order to improve the meeting experience of the involved parties. This will send a clear message to the attendees that their opinion matters within the organisation. As a result the call conference will continue to be favored as communication and collaboration tool.
10. Consider regular conference calls for successful communications strategy
Do – use free conference tools to optimize company costs, increase team efficiency and improve collaboration.
Don’t – miss the opportunity to help your business communicate better.
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