Remote office obstacle: The dreaded conference call

Posted by on July 3, 2014

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“Can you hear me now?” “Who just said that?” “Can you repeat yourself?”

Sometimes it seems there is nothing more frustrating, confusing and unproductive than a conference call. From late arrivals and interruptions, to awkward silences and drop offs, it’s enough to make you want to punt your phone across the room. So how do you avoid a situation like the all too familiar A Conference Call in Real Life video? It takes a little trial and error, but here are three main tips that have helped us when phone conferencing remote employees and clients.

Use video and screen share

Instead of hiding behind the phone box, try a video system that allows you to see the other people on the call and share screens. Systems like Google Hangout and GoToMeeting are wonderful for this type of set up. The ability to see who is talking (or trying to insert their point during a conversation) cuts down on interruptions drastically. In addition, sharing your computer screen when going over a presentation or new system allows remote meeting participates to easily follow along without getting lost.

Email materials early

If a video call or screen sharing is not an option, then send any documents you will be referencing to remote participants early. PowerPoint presentations, meeting background summaries and agendas are all simple documents that will help keep everyone on the same page during the call.

Have one leader

There should always be only one leader during a conference call and it’s that person’s responsibility to make sure all participants understand what is being discussed and have an opportunity to join in on the conversation. If you haven’t heard from participants on the phone during the call, take a moment to silence the others in the room and see if those who are joining remotely have anything to add.

Conference calls don’t have to be scary and dreadful. By taking time to add in simple steps and reworking your conversation structure it is possible to have a successful and productive conference call! Share with us, how do you make sure your conference calls aren’t a total disaster?

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