Conference calls – how to best utilise this staple, yet key business tool.

The ways in which we can communicate with one another are continually evolving, with technologies such as Skype, Facetime and Videoconferences adding a visual dimension like never before. However, one thing is clear, the traditional conference call is here to stay.

So how can you chair a conference call to make for a positive, productive and surprisingly enjoyable experience? Here’s how…

Remember the five P’s

We’re all familiar with the statement ‘Prior planning prevents poor performance’ but this, like any business meeting, is absolutely critical, even if you do have the ability to hide behind the phone. You want to be taken seriously, right?

So in short, plan and prepare for your call. Define an agenda, acknowledge desired outcomes and have any material ready ahead of your call.

Once defined, stick to your agenda, keep your call concise and work towards your desired outcomes. No one likes a two-hour call that could have been held in half of the time – we’re all busy.

Choose your location wisely – having a conference call in a noisy, poor signal area couldn’t be more frustrating for your guests.

Be extra punctual

The minute you pick up the phone, body language disappears, and your tone of voice and the words you use becomes the entire story. Treat a conference call like a face-to-face meeting, be that smiley energetic person, as this will naturally come across in your tone of voice and will engage your audience.

Think, telephone interview.

Encourage participation

Everyone is busy and no one wants to give an hour of their valuable time to contribute to nothing and to listen to ‘everything’.

Remembering an effective leader exuberates performance, empowering their peers rather than telling them what to do, be sure to encourage all round participations since everyone has their specialism and all opinions are valid.

Use of visual aids

Most conference calls these days take the form of a ‘Webex’ meaning visuals can be shown to aid your wise words. A picture tells a thousand words right?

At Silver we always like to present concepts face-to-face but unfortunately in rare circumstances when working with overseas stakeholders these presentations have to be done via a conference call making the visual element key. In this case, be sure to know your presentation, don’t jump back and forth and be sure to maintain the ‘what’s next’ excitement throughout.

Don’t confine yourself to your chair

Body language and position often determines the way we come across to our audience. Naturally by standing up we have more energy, more enthusiasm and more meaning.

Don’t be afraid to stand up during a conference call (depending on the people in the room with you at the time, if any).

Show some personality

For some, conference calls are a 9-5 commitment so try and show some personality (in a professional manner of course).

By this I don’t mean, crack jokes as if you’re down the pub but consider how to present the information in a natural way without turning into a corporate, binary robot.

Remember your etiquette

An obvious but tricky one at times.

– Try not to talk over one another and apologise if this happens.

– Introduce yourself by name, give some background and explain your role and the organisation you work for.

– Your point is valid but there’s a time for it.

– Please and thank you’s.

Jeremy Bliss is a strategic Account Manager at Silver working mainly with our overseas stakeholders. His ability to stimulate engaging, well-structured conference calls undoubtedly has a bearing influence on how seamlessly projects are executed.