Conference calling can be an effective tool for enhancing business communication and collaboration, as well as helping managers to build better relationships between partners.
When done the right way, your business can negate travel times, as well as improve contact between different parties.
However, without a good strategy for the conference call agenda, decisions can become laboured, and discussions could start going in circles.
To help your business have more productive teleconference calls which save time, rather than waste it, here are a few pointers.
Design the agenda prior to the call
Having an agenda for your conference call is vital to seeing the expected results. Decide on the purpose of your call; is it the exchange of ideas you're after? Or do you want opinions on a new plan of action? Maybe you have a problem which needs a solution, and fast.
Whatever it is you're looking to gain from a conference call, it's often a good idea to brief the other parties involved as to the distinctive points so that everyone can come prepared.
Appoint a leader for the call
This may seem to be a rather frivolous position, but as conference calls don't flow in the same, naturally overlapping style as face-to-face conversations, the call needs a firm hand on the tiller. A call leader can gently nudge callers back to the original topic, should the focus of the conversation begin to wander.
In addition, having a single voice as the director of the call makes it easier to coax responses from reluctant speakers, who might be comfortable with passively listening in without contributing.
Patience is king
When it comes to getting the answers you need, having a clear direction for the call is paramount, but it also pays to be patient. The silence on the other end of the line could be anything from surprise to another speaker simply taking a moment to process what's being said.
If you rush people, or try to talk over them, you risk losing what could have been a valuable insight, so sometimes it's best to hold back and wait to hear what everyone else has to contribute.