Four out of five conference calls I get pulled in to happen to be a time suck. There are usually way too many people on the call and the topic is usually only pertaining to the two people who specifically set up the call. When I’m asked to sit on a conference call it usually means time for me to catch up on my Solitaire game on my iPhone while two groups of people blather back and forth on a topic that has to ending.
Conference calls don’t have to be unproductive though. There is a reason that many people roll their eyes when they have to engage on a call.
Here are the top two ways to improve your conference calls.
1. Build An Agenda, Stick to It
It drives me crazy when I get sucked into a meeting with no prior knowledge of what’s taken place. What makes me crazier is when the meeting starts out loose with no proper agenda either written or addressed. Meetings need to be set up properly in order to be deemed a success. You wouldn’t meet a stranger and just start talking about your life without a setup.
Creating an agenda will keep all parties on track and create a purpose, a process and ultimately a payoff for the time spent. Send the agenda out ahead of time so everyone can read it and understand what’s about to take place.
2. Invite Only Those Who Are Relevant
Being a third party on a conference call is like going on a date with your best friend and his wife, alone. If you truly need eleven people to participate for various reasons then great, invite them all. However inviting additional people just to have witnesses causes for a lack of focus and allows guys like me to start wandering mentally and lose sight of the call. Once side conversations start it all goes downhill so keep the invites to a minimum.