How to host an effective telephone conference

April 17, 2014 2 mins read
How to host an effective telephone conference

During phone meetings, people interrupt, drift off, do other things while participating, talk with people next to them, and drink loudly without turning off the microphone. Seeing as phone meetings are a common way to communicate in the workplace, particularly with the popularity of remote working on the rise, these less than ideal behaviors are impacting on the effectiveness of these calls. Teleconferences are the becoming the meeting tool of choice as they are practical and cost-effective, especially for global companies with offices in most continents.

Many telephone conferences are held with a majority of attendees in a conference room and other attendees are ringing in from other remote locations. For convenience, the number of participants is normally limited to around seven. To ensure that those in remote locations can follow along and interact, each participant can state their name before voicing an opinion. If someone says something funny and elicits the laughter of those around him, the moderator can say, “Repeat the joke and let everyone know what you just said.”

One of the biggest problems with virtual meetings is that participants may have a difficult time establishing rapport with one another. In contrast to face-to-face meetings, non verbal signals such as facial expressions are lost, leaving many people unable to speak freely and remain focused. The moderator should be stricter in their setting of basic rules than they would be during face-to-face meetings, putting forth a briefer, more straightforward agenda.

If it is going to be a lengthy phone conference, the moderator can take some time to have participants who don’t know one another introduce themselves, explain the roles they’re playing in the project, and state what they’re hoping to get out of the meeting.

Along with this, the moderator should talk less and listen more than they would during a face-to-face meeting. They should prepare questions for the participants and record what is said by them during the meeting. This will help the moderator listen carefully and help keep everyone on track by repeating what was said immediately before. This can effectively ensure that the interaction proceeds smoothly, communication flows freely, and awkward silences stemming from differences of opinion are avoided.

To keep the meeting running smoothly, participants can proactively assume the role of moderator, keeping everyone on topic and within time limits. Participants can work together to coordinate and record the meeting and rotating the role of moderator will help keep everyone interested.

Marlon Mai's picture
Marlon Mai
Managing Director, Greater China