Overcoming Two Common Challenges of Conference Call Meetings

According to the International Data Corporation, “by [2020], IDC expects mobile workers will account for nearly three quarters (72.3%) of the total U.S. workforce.” Add that to the vast number of companies with multiple locations across the globe and it proves challenging to get a team together for a meeting.

We use conference call meetings to accomplish this difficult task. But once you get everyone on a conference call, how do you ensure that the call is concise, productive and a good use of everyone’s time?

Here’s how to handle two of the most common challenges you may face in these types of meetings.

Talking over each other.

Conference call attendees lose the visual cues they’d typically get in a meeting that may otherwise restrain them from talking over their colleagues.  While the interrupter may simply be enthusiastic and passionate about the current point being made, it is still disrespectful to talk over others.  Here are some tips to minimize these interruptions. As the meeting leader:

  • Set the tone upfront and ask attendees to respect one another, allowing each person to finish their thoughts.
  • Ask each attendee to state their name before they speak, so it is clear at all times who is talking. This will likely compel each attendee to be aware of how often they interrupt.
  • Following an interruption, re-set the tone and gently remind the group to respect each other’s contributions by allowing the speaker to share their complete thought.

Zoning out.

When sitting at your desk or in a conference room listening to others speak, but not necessarily interacting with them, it can be easy to zone out of the conversation. Here are some tips for the meeting leader to consider to keep everyone present and focused.

  • Send out a timed agenda and objectives prior to the call and ask all attendees to come prepared to discuss.
  • At the beginning of the call, briefly review objectives and the meeting end time. This will manage your team’s expectations.
  • During the call, keep tabs on attendees. Write each attendee’s name, function, and location next to your agenda. When an attendee talks, make a check mark next to his/her name. Take notes, ideally below the speaker’s name, to keep your mind focused on the speaker.
  • Make an effort to include everyone. Note the attendees who haven’t shared their thoughts yet; in other words, who could potentially be zoning out. Ask these individuals for their perspective to keep them engaged.

Give these tips a try and you’ll see conference call engagement improve and overall you’ll run quicker, more effective meetings.

Amy Staub is a Consultant at Exec-Comm. Visit her corporate bio or LinkedIn profile for more information.

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