Conference Calling Best Practices
for the Chairperson
Like any meeting, a conference call needs to be planned and managed. In general, the host of the conference call
is the call's facilitator and responsible for making sure that the teleconference goes as planned.
This doesn't mean that participants
are off the hook though. They too must do their part.
Whether you're the chairperson or a participant, use the following set of conference calling best practices to
ensure that your time is well spent.
Plan the Conference Call
As the conference call's host, you'll need to plan the call beforehand and actively
manage it once it takes place. After the call, you may need to follow up with participants or distribute files
related to the call.
These plans include international toll free
access numbers for conference call meetings
with geographically diverse participants
Before the call
- Create a list of participants. Use a spreadsheet
and include the participant's name, phone number, whether participation is mandatory or optional, and any other
notes that are helpful to you.
- Create an agenda. Include the agenda items, time
allocations, and any tasks you expect others to perform.
- Create a list of any pre-conference call tasks
that participants need to complete (for example, prepare a report or presentation) as well as any materials participants
are expected to have on hand during the call.
- Issue invitations with the conference call's phone
number and access code. Include the agenda and your list of tasks and materials. This ensures that participants
understand expectations. Make sure that time differences are clearly addressed. For example, express the time and
date of the call in local time for each participant or list the locations along with the correct time and date
for the call.
- Schedule a reminder email. You can do this in
your email client or via your conference calling provider's interface if such a feature is offered.
During the call
- Start the call on time. Waiting for late arrivals
costs you money and inconveniences those who arrived on time.
- Stick to the agenda. If the discussion goes off
track, guide it back to the topic at hand. You may want to note the topic and promise the participants that if
time allows, it can be discussed at the end of the conference call or scheduled for the next teleconference.
- End the call on time. Ending the call on time
ensures that your conference call doesn't go over budget. It also shows participants that you care about their
time. When attendees consistently see that your conference calls start and end on time, they know what to expect
during future calls.
Conference Call Best Practices
for Teleconference Participants
- Participants also contribute to a teleconference's
success. One of the best conference call best practices is to be aware of how external noises can disrupt the call
- Call in from a quiet location using a good quality
- Turn off anything that makes noise including computer
speakers, radios, TVs, PDAs, bubbling fountains, and other devices.
- Call in on time, preferably a minute or two before
the teleconference's start time.
- Before you speak, say your name so that other
participants know who is speaking.
- Use the mute button on your phone when you are
not speaking. Make sure to un-mute the call when it's your turn to speak.
- Never put the conference call on hold, especially if your phone system has a "music on hold" feature.
You do not want to interrupt your attendees with your phone systems on-hold music.
- If other people are present in the room, try not
to have separate conversations with other people.
- Use a noise-canceling headset if you have one
or speak into the handset of your phone when it's your turn to speak rather than using a speakerphone.
Following these simple conference calling best practices
is easy to do and makes the entire teleconference much more enjoyable for all parties.