Busy workers turn to the telephone and the ability to bring several people on the same line at the same time to conduct efficient meetings. How efficient is the conference call when you factor in poor communication ? I’ll argue 90-95% of meetings held via conference call are plagued by numerous problems that are easily solved.
Set out to communicate clearly
I have yet to hear a speakerphone that provides good, clear sound and transmits high sound quality to the other callers, unless the person is sitting close. Many speakerphones have mute functions that silence the microphone and/or speaker based on noise levels. I was participating on a call and it was easy to tell one of the participants was sitting far away from the phone. Her voice echoed and was distant. In addition, the phone sensed low noise levels and muted every third word. After telling her three times she needed to move closer to phone, I finally hung up because I was wasting my time listening to 2/3 of her broken communication.
Rule #1 – use the receiver/handset when participating in a conference call. You say, “But I can’t work on my computer – sending and responding to email!” Exactly! You are on the conference call. Would you be sitting at a computer working on email if everyone was sitting around the same conference table – having a face-to-face meeting? No. Your behavior on a conference call should be the same on a conference call as it is when conducting an in-person meeting.
If you have more than one person in a room participating on the conference call, you will need to use the speakerphone. Strategically place the phone within three-to-four feet of everyone in the room.
If you are running the meeting, remind people to speak loud and clearly – articulating each word.
Be aware of your surroundings.
Don’t take a conference call in a noisy area of the office. Silence nearby phones. And…my biggest pet-peeve: Don’t breathe into the handset. I have a monthly conference call where people from throughout the U.S. Participate. It never fails, someone is a mouth-breather – right into the receiver. Bad communication!
If you can’t avoid being in a noisy location, use the mute button on your phone – always remembering to click off mute BEFORE you begin speaking.
See rule #1 – treat the conference call just like an in-person meeting. If you wouldn’t do it sitting around the conference table – don’t do it on the call. And, the reverse is true. Be sure to distribute an agenda via email or fax. Check when the call begins that everyone has the agenda. If they don’t, give a bullet-point list of what you will accomplish during the call. STICK TO THE AGENDA!
Also, don’t assume people have the conference dial-in information in a meeting notice or saved from the last regularly scheduled call. Include the call in number and passcode on the agenda. We’re all busy and having all information in the same place – on the same sheet of paper makes everyone’s life easier.
Learn more about communication strategy and how to make your organization an efficient communication machine with DaleDixonMedia.com or send your ideas or question to me