Remote conference calls are convenient because no one needs to meet up in the same place. You can join from your office, the car, your living room, or even the bathroom, and no one will be any wiser (unless you’re using video calling, of course!).
Conference calls via mobile devices can still accomplish many of the same tasks as in-person meetings. However, due to their unique nature, there are a few best practices and different approaches to account for if you want the meeting to be successful. Your phone is a useful tool, but you’re still dealing with people, so here are a few tips for conducting a productive conference call with your mobile device:
Make Sure Everyone Has Access
First—and most importantly—make sure that everyone who needs to be on the call is present. It throws everything off if someone cannot access the conversation due to technological reasons.
Conference calling for iPhone does not require any extra apps. All you need to do is call someone as usual and then press the “add call” button. Once you are connected to both callers, merge the connections so that all three of you can hear each other. Continue to do this until everyone is included.
It’s understandable, though, if this process sounds long and tedious. This is where third-party apps can come in handy, which enable one-click joining and video conferencing. You’ll worry less about technological issues (or forgetting someone) if the platform is self-explanatory and it’s everyone’s individual responsibility to join the call.
Use A Moderator
Some virtual meeting services include monitors and operators that can introduce callers as they join, keep track of time, keep the meeting on schedule, and otherwise facilitate the call. They are incredibly useful for making sure that the meeting does not run overtime and that it accomplishes everything its organizers hoped it would.
If you don’t want to rely on a third-party monitor, then it’s up to you or someone you appoint to assume the role. Instead of having everyone talk over each other unsure of when it’s acceptable to speak (which results in both confusion and awkward silences), this individual is critical for making sure everything on the agenda is properly addressed.
Plan Everything Beforehand
On that note, the agenda: remember to plan the outline of the meeting beforehand. You don’t have to stick to it rigidly—you shouldn’t, or you will constrain the conversation too much—but it’s necessary to know what direction the meeting should go in and roughly how long it will take to get there.
Pay Attention To Your Location
One of the benefits of in-person meetings is that everyone faces the same distractions (which are, hopefully, minimal). When everyone is speaking on phones, however, there is traffic, construction, other conversations, crying children, static, and other background noises to worry about. Make sure that you are in a quiet location before initiating the call and ask everyone else to do the same.
It’s easy to fade into the background of a telephone conference call. If you’re not using video features, there is nothing and no one to visually entice you, so it’s understandable if your mind wanders and you end up not contributing to the meeting.
You’ll have to be proactive about avoiding this with your attendees. Be thoughtful about encouraging participation: how can you make the meeting more interesting? How can you make sure that you have their attention? Without body language and visuals to present, you’re going to have to rely on your voice and the information you convey.
Ask people for their opinions on certain matters and ask if anyone has any questions. Don’t surprise people with “quizzes”—that’s infantilizing and obnoxious—but do you best to give people a reason to listen closely and plenty of opportunities to share their thoughts. Lecturing everyone is a sure way to lose your audience.
Some conference calling services offer tools that involve participants. Polling, Q&As, and surveying features are an excellent way of getting everyone involved, which they can access through the app or dial pad.
Use everyone’s names, too. It will cause confusion if you ask a question but no one is sure who is going to speak first. Address people directly so that everyone knows when they’re being spoken to and the meeting’s momentum doesn’t slow down.
Many people think of attending conference calls as inconvenient—but they’re much more convenient than attending one in-person, especially if the meeting moves swiftly and accomplishes its goals. If it’s your job to facilitate a call and everybody is using their phones, make sure to keep it on track and within the specified time frame. How do you make sure conference calls go smoothly?