Are your teleconferences a waste of time?

Almost ALL my clients say they waste an enormous amount of time and energy on ineffective, nonproductive teleconference calls. So,here are 5 ideas on how to turn that around.

1. Get the right equipment!

  • If you are on the phone a good percentage of your day,  get the right headset. It should be able to handle placing and receiving calls through the PC (Skype, your WebEx or other conference calling tools), your fixed phone and your mobile phone / ipad etc..   I like having a bluetooth connection so I can get up, walk around, stretch, find a folder I need to answer a question etc..
  • Obviously, if you travel a lot, get a good headset for your mobile devices.  Personally, I prefer one with a cable when travelling as it feels more secure.
2.  Become an expert on the Software
  • If you are using a conference call software, get training on how to use it!  Most of the softwares have videos explaining how to get the best out the software.  Make one person on the team responsible for keeping up to date on new options.
  • Know how it use it on your mobile devices!
 3.  Create a helpful Agenda, designed for your desired outcome! 
  • Have a very clear outcome for the meeting. Know what you want to walk away with and what you want the others on the call to walk away with!
  • Send out an agenda ahead of time.  The agenda should be simple and time bound for each item
  • Mark agenda items as being (a) FYI only, (b) Decision Needed or (c) Discussion / Ideas / Input requested.
  • Have clear rules on how people should behave – these are probably the same for most teleconferences but should be reviewed each time.
  • Use the parking lot! If a conversation gets off track, ask how it relates to the subject at hand, and if it does not, put it in the parking lot and review how to handle at the end of the meeting.
  • At the end of the meeting, take 5 minutes to review the meeting process. What went well, what could have been better, What needs to change for next time.
4. Make Participation easy and clear
  • When you ask for input, decide PRIOR to the meeting, for each agenda item, if you want to use written questions , hands up only, free for all (who ever speaks first) or a round the table approach.
  • If you go for the round table approach, identify the order you will ask people to provide their input.  It easier for them to know what to expect, and no time is lost for two people talking at once or over each other by accident.
5. Schedule your meetings strategically
  • Keep meetings to 45 minutes.  Start at 5 minutes past the hour and finish 10 minutes before the hour.  This gives people time to collect their thoughts prior and do some quick actions !
My two questions for you!
  1. Which tip will you try in the next week?
  2. What is your most effective tip for great teleconferences?

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