12 Rules for Managing Conference Calls to Get Better Results
Another consequence of being a company with employees scattered across many locations (including our three offices, client sites and employee's homes) is that a lot of the communication that doesn't take place via email happens over conference calls. My mornings are often so packed with calls it's difficult to take a bathroom break. (If you think I'm exaggerating, this week I have my weekly team call, calls with each sales team, weekly calls with the new product development team, a call to discuss improvements to our website, a couple of calls with the CEO, a call with a client, a brainstorming session with the team, a call with HR . . . )
So how do I keep sane through all the calls? How do I make sure I disconnect from one call and start another while ensuring I make the best of my time and the time of the other parties in the conference?
Here are the rules I follow when I am hosting or organizing a conference call.
Plan and prepare.
1. If I am setting up the meeting, I start by writing down the objective of the meeting. There is usually one primary objective (for example, evaluating the progress of my team) and one or more secondary objectives (motivating the team to continue through the week, setting right any doubts about priorities).
2. Then I write down a list of participants. In cases like the example I just mentioned, this will be glaringly self-obvious. At other times, the list of participants I initially had in mind may change after I have written down and clarified my objectives.
3. I create a detailed agenda, including not merely the items for discussion but also allocating time to each and listing any tasks I want others to perform or subjects they should address.