It may seem like a no-brainer since three-way calling, conference calling and audio conferences have been around for ages, but you’d be surprised at the number of faux-pas that are routinely committed on a business call.

Here are a few tips to consider when hosting a conference call:

Courteous Host

Consider your participants and corporate culture when scheduling a conference call. What time zones are involved, how long will the call be, etc?  During long calls for example, schedule a short recess or allow participants to take a short break as needed. Remind your participants not to place their line on “HOLD” as many offices play hold music which will pipe into the conference.

Use the Right Equipment

Avoid cellular and cordless phones because of annoying static, and speakerphones as they pick up background noise and sound like speaking in a tunnel. Also, some speakerphones don’t allow you to speak and hear at the same time, effectively “clipping off” parts of the conversation.

Plan Ahead

Determine the date, start time and number of participants.  Be aware of time zone differences.

Notify the Participants

Let all conference participants know the date and how they can access the teleconference.
Provide them with your dial-in number and access codes to enter the conference, include in your e-mail notification: moderator’s name, start and estimated end times, subject and agenda. Also, let participants know of any preparation needed prior to the audio conference.

Set the Audio Conference Goal

1.    Pinpoint the objectives you wish to accomplish for the meeting.
2.    Provide an agenda in advance.
3.    Try to limit the agenda to three or four topics, and let the participants know how much time you intend to spend on each.

Eliminate Ambient Noise

Eliminate as much as possible the need to shuffle papers/ materials when you are speaking. Some speakerphone mics will pick up these sounds and it becomes very distracting.

Increase Attendance

1.    Email Pre-Notification – Remind your callers about the upcoming call to which they have already been invited.

2.    Dial-Out Participants – You can connect each participant personally by utilizing dial-out features. This is extremely useful for international callers.

Ending the Call

When ending your conference call, always be clear and to the point. Thank everyone for their participation and be sure everyone realizes the meeting is officially over.

Don’t Forget Time Zones when Scheduling Conference Calls

If participants from across the country or abroad are going to be included, schedule the event in the time zone most convenient to the majority of participants. When assigning the start time make sure you notify your participants what time zone your scheduled time reflects.

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