Tips from a Seasoned Conference Caller

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At Redstone, we’re all about continual improvement of our processes, so we thought we’d get our blog posts started on the right foot in 2017 by getting back to meeting basics.

For many of us in association management who have clients all over the world, we often participate in weekly, sometimes daily, teleconferences. Many of you probably know the conference call struggle is real, yet you aren’t quite ready to jump into videoconferencing (or don’t have the budget). If you struggle with teleconferences in your day-to-day board or committee life, here are a few quick tips we’ve learned from Canadian Association of College and University Student Services’ Executive Director, Jennifer Hamilton that you can share to help improve the quality of your remote meetings.

• Always confirm if you are unable to attend a meeting. This will prevent the loss of a few valuable minutes at the start of the call waiting around for others to join.
• In the same vein, advise the chair if you need to leave early at the beginning of the call so that they can predict the disruption and avoid listening to dead air if they ask for your feedback after you’ve left the call.
• Better yet – show up on time! Joining any later than 2-3 minutes after the start of the call and you’ll be losing several minutes of time being brought up to speed. You’ll also risk repeating something that was already discussed prior to you joining the call.
• Introduce yourself when you arrive and when you begin to speak. You’ll be more likely to be asked for feedback if you’re not simply lurking in the background. This will also be helpful for the accuracy of the minutes.
• Mute your phone, especially if you are in a shared space. Teleconference horror stories include hearing anything from a toilet flushing to side conversations amongst colleagues. It is expected to some degree that some participants will have something going on in the background throughout the call, but you can prevent embarrassing moments and disruptions by always ensuring your phone is equipped with a mute button.
• Avoid speakerphone and use a headset. Speakerphone often muffles your voice and picks up background noise; a headset will allow you the hands-free freedom of a speakerphone, without sacrificing clarity.
• Be prepared. Whether you are the chair preparing materials, or reporting on an agenda item, be prepared with all of your information and keep it concise. Be clear on where you are asking for feedback and what is for information only.
• If you are the chair of a call, ask for input by name. Without being able to pick up on visual cues when someone would like to speak, this ensures that everyone has the opportunity to provide feedback before moving on.
• Respond when questions are asked. Likewise, if a chair or other participant asks for feedback, silence implies consent or agreement, so be sure to listen for your opportunity to speak.

Here is a fun video to watch if you haven’t seen it already, highlighting the daily challenges our board and committee members face!

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