Ten tips to make conference calls more effective

In-house counsel spend hours on conference calls, so any suggestions can make a difference in effectiveness. I took these tips from a post by Mike Dillon and tweaked them a bit (See my post of June 14, 2007: six suggestions for better conference calls.).

  1. Deal with the fact you will be talking to an unseen group and receiving no visual cues or feedback.
  2. Use the right phone in a quiet, undisturbed room. If you really can’t find a quiet room, use the mute button [often *6] until you want to speak. And, don’t shuffle papers!
  3. Set up the call in advance and communicate the dial-in number, passcodes and other information. Confirm the time zone differences.
  4. Treat the conference call as if it were a meeting: prepare and circulate an agenda, take notes ya-de-ya-de-ya.
  5. Start the meeting absolutely on time; don’t reward latecomers’ bad behaviour by waiting for them. Take a role call at the start of the meeting, highlighting the missing attendees.
  6. Ask each caller to introduce himself or herself. Even though you may never meet in person, it’s a good relationship builder and gets the shy people at least to say their name.
  7. Don’t assume everyone recognises your voice. Say your name before you speak. This is particularly important for the poor soul taking meeting notes.
  8. Don’t allow the topic to wander. Be an iron fist in a velvet glove – polite but firm if people talk too long or over each other.
  9. Ask for input by starting with a person’s name. People will pay more attention to avoid the embarrassment of needing the question repeated.
  10. Close the meeting formally, thanking everybody for their time.

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