Whether you’re hosting or participating in a conference call, it’s smart to do some pre-conference planning as well as prepare your space for an efficient meeting.
- Presentations or reports. Think about your role in the conference call. Will you be expected to present? If so, you’ll need to prepare and bring a presentation in the appropriate format. This may also mean installing software (depending on the teleconferencing solution being used) so that you can share your presentation in the video conference. Similarly, you may be expected to share files with the group such as reports or meeting minutes from a previous meeting. As the host of the teleconference, the types of information you plan on sharing will likely guide you as to whether you should hold an audio or web conference.
- Headset. This is optional but can be helpful if you expect to participate in a noisy environment. Even if you’re only listening in, wearing a headset while you do so can signal to others in your office that you are occupied. Thus, a headset can help to minimize distractions.
- An agenda. As the teleconference host, you’ll need to facilitate the conference call, making an agenda extremely important. As a participant, an agenda is helpful so you can follow along and know what’s coming next. You’ll likely receive an agenda from the host. For large teleconferences and webinars, the agenda may be posted on the teleconference’s registration page.
If you’re a participant, you may even want to create your own personal list of agenda items. Think about what you want to get out of the call? What information can you contribute?
- Pen and paper. Before you dial in, make sure to clear your desk and get out a fresh sheet of paper — or a notepad if you expect to take a lot of notes — and a pen. If you prefer to take notes on a computer or use the conference calling software’s collaborative notes to feature, that’s certainly fine, too. The point is, be prepared to take notes during the teleconference. Inevitably, something will come up that you’ll want to remember or need to take action on. Having a pen and paper handy helps ensure you can quickly jot it down.
- A cheatsheet with common conference call commands. If you’re dialing into an audio conference from a telephone, it’s not a bad idea to write down the conference call commands for muting and unmuting your telephone line as well as any other commands you expect to use such as moderator dial-out or call recording.
- A water bottle. Having water nearby is helpful if you’ll be speaking during the teleconference. Both speaking for an extended period of time and anxiety can trigger dry mouth. If your throat is dry, a quick sip or two of water will help. Taking a sip of water may even provide a brief moment of normalcy if you’re feeling anxious, giving you time to calm down.