Conference calls are a great way to catch up with clients, colleagues, and brainstorm new ideas. However, conference calls aren’t exactly everyone’s favorite work activity. We’ve all been to those meetings that almost certainly should have been an email, and it’s difficult to sit through them. Streamlining conference calls can help you and your team or clients avoid conference call burn out, and we have some tips to help.
When you use video conferencing software for work, you have much greater control over your calls than with a traditional landline. Most businesses are switching to digital software over hard landlines, and for good reason! With greater convenience, more tools, and better accessibility and security, digital tools are the way of the future.
Now, let’s take a look at how to avoid conference call burnout with or without digital conferencing tools.
Try To Limit Meetings To True Necessity
This is a tip that many supervisors should follow. We’ve all had a supervisor that felt everything had to be discussed over a meeting, and that’s simply overkill. Some things are better left to emails or memos rather than planning, hosting, and completing an entire conference call. Quick updates shouldn’t require a call at all. In fact, there are actually very few things that do require an in-depth phone conversation.
If you’re the supervisor, ask yourself if the subject matter at hand truly requires a meeting to discuss properly. If you’re using project management software, you can easily track projects, deadlines, and everyone’s role in the project, which can help reduce the need for meetings for updates. This is something that every modern business should consider, as project management software can streamline your projects and make the team more communicative and productive.
If you must schedule a call, be sure to let everyone who’s participating know ahead of time and have an agenda. You should give everyone in the call as many details as possible beforehand, so they have ample time to plan and gather materials. Ask yourself again if a call is really necessary, and if it is, plan to streamline it as much as you possibly can.
Set A Strict Time Limit On Meetings
Another good rule of thumb is to set time limits on your meetings, so you can avoid meeting fatigue. This usually occurs when you’ve scheduled too many long meetings in a short period of time. Let’s be honest; none of us wants to sit through an hour-and-a-half meeting about sales records and how Brent is crushing the sales floor this quarter. The best meetings are under an hour long. Some sources even suggest a 30-minute meeting as the best option.
Keeping meetings limited to under an hour might mean going through things a bit more quickly, which can also mean utilizing the mute button and your other host controls. Keep everyone’s time spent talking to a minimum as well, and be sure the conversation stays on the topic(s) at hand.
Stay On Track With An Agenda
Every meeting should have an agenda. Trying to host a conference call without an agenda is like driving cross-country without a map. It seems like it’s fine at first, but then you end up in the middle of nowhere, far from the original course you were supposed to take. If, as the host, you’re not organized, how can you possibly expect your callers to stay on track and focused?
As the organizer, it’s up to you to set the example and provide the roadmap for the meeting’s topics. This is the best way to avoid side conversations, as well. You wouldn’t want the latest office gossip, last night’s game, or Greg’s travel stories to make their way into the meeting, right?
Use Your Host Controls To Control The Call
The beauty of online conferencing tools is that they allow the host maximum control over the call and its participants. From the interface, you can mute anyone in the call, end the call, share your screen, and more. Don’t be afraid to utilize these tools, and especially the mute button. Some callers will be disruptive or attempt to talk far longer than their allotted time slot, and it’s up to you, the host, to control the call and keep it on schedule.
It’s also your responsibility to make sure everyone knows how to join the call. Most online meetings will have a dial-in number as well as a joinable link. You should provide each caller with both, just in case one of them is unable to use their computer to join the call. Some services even offer mobile apps to make things easier and more portable.
Conference call burnout can derail the productivity of your calls and wear down your team. It’s important to remember that not everything requires a call; some things truly can be settled via email. Be sure you need to schedule a call before you take up anyone’s time doing so.