Conference Call Checklist for Success

The conference call has become a routine part of daily business, used to enhance productivity and collaborate with an increasingly dispersed array of remote employees and partners. Used incorrectly though, conference calling and web conferencing can be ineffective. By following this checklist however, you can be assured of a successful conference call program.

1. Employ the right technology. Conference calling ranges from simple telephone conferencing, to web conferencing and video conferencing, which may incorporate presentations and either VoIP or a linked phone bridge. Choose the technology that will best suit your needs, ensuring that you have all the features at hand that you will require. Confer with all stakeholders, as needs may differ between departments and users.

2. Ensure adequate bandwidth. Before you deploy your conference call infrastructure, ensure that there is adequate bandwidth. If you plan to deploy video for example, you will need to have sufficient downstream bandwidth to ensure delivery without jitter. At the same time, ensure that your participants also have adequate bandwidth to receive the video transmission without causing problems. For example, even if you have a T1 connection, if half of your participants are on a dial-up link, then web conferencing will be impractical.

3. Make sure connection instructions are clear. Send every participant an email with clear login instructions, including any time zone differences. In addition, if you are web conferencing, make sure to put up a splash screen at least 15 or 30 minutes prior to the conference, which again explains the login procedure.

4. Promote name clarity. It is often difficult to follow who is speaking during a conference call, especially if there is no video component. When the conference call starts, all the main speakers should be introduced; and during the conference, every participant should re-state his or her name before

5. Appoint a single person to be the conference facilitator. Appointing a leader will help to avoid confusion during the conference call, and will help to keep the conversation flowing in the right direction.

6. Ensure good collaboration. A key element to success is establishing a sense of collaboration. Encourage everyone to participate, and provide the appropriate web conferencing technology to allow for easy collaboration, such as shared whiteboards, chat utilities with breakaway session capability, and wiki tools.

7. Employ surveys and polls. Web conferencing tools will also create a heightened sense of belonging during a conference call, by allowing all persons on the call to participate, even if they have nothing to say directly. In addition, the survey and poll tools can be used to gauge the overall feelings of the group on various issues.

8. Follow up after it’s done. Once your conference call has been completed, follow up with an email summarizing the results of the conference.

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