Conference calls and international meetings – how to make the most of them?
We all live in a global village. As the world becomes smaller, we are sipping coffee from our favorite region in Kenya while being on a call with co-workers from the U.S. and Australia. That’s pretty much how business is done nowadays.
Over the past ten years, the growth in remote working employees in the U.S. hit an astonishing 91%. Also, every year more businesses go international, providing services for clients abroad.
To manage such changes in your work environment, you have to communicate smoothly. Here is where technology, and especially conference calls, comes in handy. In this article, you will find useful tips on how to lead effective virtual meetings.
1. Preparation is key
As with regular meetings, their success relies on how well you are prepared. If your role is to organize the meeting from A to Z, and you do it from scratch, pay attention to choosing the correct tool. It will make your meeting go smoothly and allow you to focus on its business value, not fixing technical problems.
Choose the tool that’s easy to set-up
If you are afraid that introducing a new system for your conference calls can take ages, worry no more. With solutions like CloudTalk, setting up your account takes five minutes. All you need to start calling is an internet connection and a headset.
Keep security in mind
One of the fears you might experience in connection with online meetings is having less control over who is participating and having access to the information being shared. With CloudTalk, each of the invitees has to enter a PIN code before joining the room to ensure that only desirable people are attending the meeting.
Check whether the tool is reliable
You do not want to waste the first five minutes of your conference call on fixing the problems with the connection or experiencing technical issues – especially during a meeting with your client. Although you cannot prevent every single problem, it is good to do some research and look through reviews in G2’s contact center software category.
Look for toll-free numbers
Toll-free numbers are essential if your invitees call you from their phones from abroad instead of joining you online. This is how you can ensure there are no economic barriers in setting up the meeting.
Pay attention to scheduling
Finding an appropriate date and time may give you a headache, especially if the meeting is international. If you struggle with setting a time that would suit everyone, why not delegate it to your invitees? With tools like Harmonizely, you let your invitees choose the perfect moment. In addition, it automatically recognizes the timezone of the user, so everyone will be sure when they should appear on call.
Set the agenda beforehand
A well-prepared agenda is a key to success. Start with setting the purpose of the meeting and the desired outcome. It will help you to establish how much time you can dedicate to each topic. A good idea can be leaving some time at the end of the conference call for questions and doubts.
Send out materials
In order to make the most from your conference call, think about materials that may be needed during the meeting. If the purpose is to discuss a certain subject, sending out relevant materials will help you save everyone’s time and encourage discussion.
2. During the meeting
To ensure that everyone makes the most of your meeting, there might be some rules worth implementing.
Think about a warm-up
This may be especially important if your invitees meet for the first time. Coming up with an ice-breaker can smooth the exchange of thoughts and encourage your participants to speak up openly afterwards.
Stick to the agenda
If you are in charge of leading the meeting, make sure you are keeping an eye on the watch and follow the agenda. When an issue turns out to be more time-demanding than you expected, think about organizing a separate call to cover it. Moderate the discussion so that the call is effective, and you do not get distracted by unimportant topics.
Record the call
If your call center software allows call recording, make the most of it. Recording the call will help you in focusing on the ongoing discussion without losing any important thoughtlater on. It can be useful for the participants as well for the same reason.
Ensure everyone can contribute to the conversation
One of the tasks of the moderator is to make space for everyone to speak their mind. If you are on a call, the task is a bit harder, as you cannot observe the attendees and spot some non-verbal signs that someone is trying to enter the discussion. A way to solve the issue is to ask frequently if anyone has anything to add before moving to the next point on your agenda.
Re-route question to a separate time
If you notice that questions exceed the time dedicated to a given topic, re-route them to the separate space. In this way, you will make sure everyone is assured that they will get the answer to their questions.
Stay on mute unless you speak
This is one of the basic rules, yet not everyone follows it. To take care of the comfort of your co-callers, turn on the mute mode. You will not bother anyone with some background noise.
Summarise the meeting
When finishing the meeting, make a quick wrap-up of the issues and conclusions that appeared during the call. Also, mention the actionable steps to take so that your attendees have clear what should be done next.
3. After the call
Prepare a follow-up
It can be an email with the most important ideas that appeared during the meeting or a recording of the conference call. It will prevent you from losing the value produced during the meeting.
To make the most of a conference call, there are some simple things you should keep in mind. When it comes to the technical side of the meeting, as software and scheduling, let your tools do the job.
Focus on preparing the agenda and content for the meeting, so it is efficient and satisfying. During the meeting, moderate the discussion and make sure everyone’s voice is heard.
Afterwards, send a follow-up, so all the participants get full information on what happened during the meeting.