How to Host a Conference Call

Submitted by: Ashley Speagle

Though fast and simple, conference calls can be messy and confusing without the right guidelines and preparations.

Missing visual cues, you don’t know who’s speaking, when it’s your turn, what someone really meant and what page of a document everyone else is on. These are common conferencing calling traps that, when left unchecked, can collapse the productivity of your entire call just like a gaping sinkhole.

Control the chaos and avoid these mishaps by getting a little more organized. Use the following tips to experience better conference calling and collaboration.

10 Steps to Organize a Conference Call:

  1. Set a clear meeting agenda. Organize meeting objectives in an outline for a clear path to follow. This way, you’ll be able to get your audience back on track and remind yourself when you’re chasing too many tangents.
  2. Find the best time to meet. Conference calling that’s too early or too late winds up with late arrivals or participants hanging up early, as well as callers that are too distracted or too tired to participate. To make it easy (especially if you’re dealing with multiple time zones) send a free/busy poll to everyone at once with options for them to select.
  3. Send a calendar invite. Creating calendar invites is easy, but consider adding these extras for a more productive meeting. First, include the agenda and let your attendees know how they should prepare. Should they brainstorm ahead of time, come with questions or read over other attachments beforehand? Also, make it easier for mobile callers by including links to apps with one-click access. Don’t forget to set a reminder notification at least 15 minutes before the meeting.
  4. Find the mute button. If you’re new to playing host, practice with the technology. Find all the buttons on your visual conference calling controls, as well as your speaker phone, like how to mute a single line or all callers at once.
  5. Join early. Dial in at least five minutes before the start time to welcome participants and ensure they have everything they need to participate.
  6. Kick off with ground rules. To minimize disruptions, set quick guidelines. For instance, let callers know that putting the call on hold initiates hold music, that they need to state their name before speaking if it’s a large call or new group and to mute themselves at all times unless they’re speaking. In fact, include this conference call flowchart in your invite so they get the picture.
  7. Ask questions. This is a surefire way to get engagement and to make sure participants understand the conversation. Using your visual display of who’s on the call, direct your questions to someone new each time so everyone pays attention instead of multitasks.
  8. Jot down ideas, questions and feedback. Many conference calling solutions provide a recording and meeting summary afterwards, but if you want to be an active listener and better host, take notes during the meeting, too.
  9. Wrap up with action items. Outline any next steps your participants need to take so everyone leaves with a clear understanding of their responsibilities. In addition, use wrap-up time to review what was and was not accomplished and to ask callers what they think could be improved on the next call.
  10. Follow up with an email. Recap your meeting, next steps, assigned roles and deadlines in an email so everyone has a clear, written summary to cement what they learned and what’s next.

What else can you control for better conferencing calling? Your technology. Request a demo today of GlobalMeet® Audio to find out why PGi is one of the most trusted audio conferencing providers!