With a little forward planning it’s easy to hold conference calls that are as productive as a regular face-to-face meeting. What’s more, there are a whole host of added advantages to hosting conferences in this way – they can cut down on costs associated with commuting as well as allow people to come together at a moment’s notice, for example.
Companies should work to the mantra that one in five business meetings can be turned into a conference call, as technology can allow the lines of communication to remain open. For organisations looking to expand into foreign markets, it’s easier to hold meetings in this way rather than forking out on the expense of flying around the globe.
However, in order to make the most out of remote meetings, it’s essential to be as organised as possible beforehand – just as you would be for a face-to-face meeting. Here are some tips to help you make the most out of conference calls.
Time is of the essence
Timing is one of the most most important considerations when planning a meeting – begin by choosing when you start carefully. If you have lots of things to discuss, holding your meeting just before lunch or the end of the working day may not allow you to cover all the necessary issues.
The problem of meetings overrunning is a common one. If time limits are set out on an agenda and discussions are kept to clearly defined topics, nobody will feel like their time is being wasted.
Have a plan
By holding a meeting with no clear agenda the level of respect for the person conducting it will drop and employees will feel like they would rather be doing anything but taking part in a pointless conference call.
As much as around 50 per cent of meeting time can be unproductive and around 25 per cent is spent discussing irrelevant issues. In actual fact, however, meetings should be the most interesting and productive part of the working day.
When planning your agenda, start with the overall purpose and objectives before working backwards and filling in the rest. And once you’ve clearly defined the key points remember to allow a set amount of time for discussion.
This means someone from your team will be responsible for guiding the meeting rather than one person trying to do everything themselves.
In a conference call it is easy to control who is speaking as microphones can be muted if one person is giving a presentation, for example. In addition, delegating someone to go through the points on the agenda as well as making sure discussions are relevant will help to make sure everything is covered.
Conference calls also have the added benefit that employees won’t be able to engage in chit-chat, meaning virtual meetings won’t be interrupted or stalled. While it’s nice for staff members to engage on an informal level, a meeting is not the best time for them to do so.
Minute your meetings
Send out meeting minutes within 24 hours of it ending while everything is still fresh in the minds of attendees.
By sending out minutes promptly the momentum of the meeting can still be harnessed. And in order for you to be able to process meeting minutes quickly, pre-write them roughly using your agenda as a template.
Remember to thank attendees for their time and participation but more importantly, remind them to review action items and deadlines.