How to Host a Successful Conference Call
Conference calling has become a popular option for weekly sales meetings, client contact and other activities for organizations, as it is a useful tool to enhance productivity, efficiency and connections between people in different locations. A conference call has its own protocol and etiquette and it is crucial that one understands how to organize a conference call so that it achieves the stated objectives.
A proper invitation must be sent to the participants by e-mail, fax or telephone about the details of the meeting. This must include the date, time and the agenda of the discussion. Participants should be asked to log into the conference at least five minutes ahead of the scheduled time, to enable the host to coordinate activity prior to the actual agenda.
Before the Call
The dial-in number and the guest code should be provided to all the participants. Participants should also be advised on common protocols, such as not putting calls on hold while on the conference, as the “hold” music would be triggered and would disrupt the conference. Overseas participants should be given the international toll or toll-free number dial-in number. Any documents or other items needed for the discussion should be sent well ahead of time, so that the persons involved have adequate time to prepare for the call.
There should be a reminder sent about the date and time of the meeting. Participants should be informed that the call will begin exactly on time. All necessary equipment should be easily accessible and speakerphones should be positioned near the main participants. Care should be taken to ensure that the best available equipment is used, to maximize quality of sound.
The moderator should dial in five minutes ahead of time as a sign of courtesy and respect to the participants.
Activating the Call
The conference call should begin with a roll call to confirm attendance and introduce all participants to each other. Punctuality is of the utmost importance and all participants should log in ahead of the scheduled time. There should be no waiting around for the ones who are late, which sends a strong signal about the professionalism of the moderator and ensures prompt attendance the next time.
During the Call
Care should be taken to avoid any discussion not relevant to the conference agenda. Noise and distractions must be handled promptly to ensure that there are no disruptions and the meeting agenda is followed with care and involvement. The moderator should summarize the issues discussed and also clearly state at what juncture the conference is going to end, so that nobody is left hanging around after the call has reached its conclusion.
All participants must mention their name before speaking, so that each one is aware of the identity of the speaker. They should also address the person by name when they wish to ask him/her a question. All background noise must be eliminated such as rustling papers, side conversations or other phone calls. Cell phones must be muted as they may be disruptive to the other participants.
Ending the Call
When the conference is nearing its end, the moderator should inform all participants of the date and time of the next call. All participants should be thanked for their time and involvement.
After the call is over, an e-mail or note should be sent to all participants with minutes of the meeting and action to be taken. If the conference call has been recorded, this recording can be sent to those interested in the proceedings of the meeting.