It’s 10 AM. You’re in bed with a tray of coffee, eggs benedict and orange juice poised on your lap, while handling the qualms of 20 clients. The rest of the world is at work and you are on the phone.
First rule: get out of bed! Use a wireless headset and stand up when you are speaking in order to sound more energetic.
Mastering the conference call is not as easy as it seems, but once you learn the knack, you will have work wrapped around your little finger. The only way to sparkle is to remain clever, strategic and organised. Here’s how:
1. Prepare your agenda in advance. All conference calls should have an agenda! Plan the points you want to make in your meeting and stick to them. And more importantly, you need to sound like you know what you’re talking about. Before your call, make sure you have the agenda printed and in front of you.
2. Be punctual! “Attend” the call early, so that others don’t think you haven’t turned up. Make sure all attendees arrive on time to stop stragglers ruining your limelight.
3. Make sure you have good internet connection.The last thing you want is your boss thinking you left the city to take a secret mini-break to the new forest just because your signal died. Be clever, think strategically and most of all, stay organized.
4. Chair the meeting effectively. There is no body language to know when it’s appropriate to speak. If you are not familiar with playing the “chair” role then interpret Judge Judy in front of your TV screen for the next hour. Use “presenter mode” to make sure everyone is muted while you are speaking.
5. Know the names of the attendees like the back of your hand! Write a list of each person attending the meeting and make sure you know whose who. The last thing you want is for people to not take you seriously because you forgot their names.
6. Use visual stimulants. Email a power point presentation to the attendees to help them remain focused. And use some fancy images for them to look at.
7. Use a good speaker phone. There is nothing worse than hearing the background echoes of your dog barking. If the audio is bad then the conference call is going to be worse.
8. Protect your meeting! Make sure you lock the conference call to stop strangers from joining and potentially stealing company plans that you have spent the last year researching.
9. Let everyone speak. Make sure that louder characters in the conference call do not take over the entire meeting – you are in charge!
10. Summarise. End the meeting on time and with a bang. Ask attendees for their comments, and remember that if the call is too long it reflects the fact that you lost control. Circulate important points and notes afterwards to keep everyone in the loop.