Teleconferences have become increasingly popular as more and more Americans work remotely. They are also a great option when face-to-face meetings are not possible. That said, when you are working with people over the phone or computer rather than in-person, you face some unique challenges. Here are some helpful tips for holding an effective teleconference.
1. Distribute an Agenda
It’s easy to lose interest in a call if you don’t know what’s going to be discussed or why it’s important. An agenda can help each attendee understand the purpose of the teleconference as well as their role in the meeting. When given ahead of time, it can also help attendees make necessary preparations in order to make the meeting as productive as possible. A great way to do this is by listing agenda items as questions and assigning each team member a specific question to answer. This ensures every attendee is an active participant in the meeting.
2. Share Links and Documents in Advance
It is always helpful to share any relevant documents or links that will be discussed during the teleconference ahead of time. This gives attendees a chance to look over the information so they can prepare any questions in advance. These links, documents, and agenda should ideally be given to attendees a few days before the teleconference so they have enough time to review the material and put together any questions or input.
3. Have Speakers Identify Themselves
Advise any speakers to identify who they are before they begin talking, especially if there are several people on the call. It can be difficult to discern voices over the phone which can make it hard to know who said what.
4. Use Video Whenever Possible
It’s best to use video whenever possible in addition to audio because this allows meeting participants to see and connect with each other. Videos are also helpful because they allow you to see body language and facial expressions, both of which are important components of communication. Videos also encourage more engagement and participation and prevent attendees from becoming distracted by wherever they are.
5. Use Mute
Background sounds can be highly distracting during a teleconference so encourage everyone to use mute when they are not speaking. This ensures that you can hear each other well without dealing with background noises.
6. Stick to the Agenda and Stay on Track
Everyone’s time is valuable so it is important to keep the meeting moving forward by following the agenda. Avoid spending unnecessary time on one topic or introducing items outside the agenda. If you need to discuss something further that does not include everyone on the call, excuse those people and address those issues with only the involved parties.
7. Summarize the Meeting
Before concluding the meeting, summarize action items and other important information to make sure all participants understand and are on the same page. Send out the meeting minutes or notes immediately after the call so everyone can review them while the discussion is still fresh on their minds.
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