Meetings that Drive Results is a popular training program with Learning Dynamics clients as many are working to find ways to have more effective meetings, fewer meetings, and different ways to communicate across teams. Conference calls are one option toward that end.
A participant at a recent session asked, “How do I help other managers who don’t trust the effectiveness of conference calls? This person wants to have in-person meetings, even when they are inconvenient for many. He doesn’t think conference calls work. He says that people don’t pay attention and no work gets done.”
While there are many ways to make conference calls more effective, we offered a five-step strategy to get everyone engaged in the calls and to ensure that work is accomplished.
Prepare an Agenda. This should be a part of every effective meeting, whether in-person or virtual, and it is especially valuable for conference calls. Let your participants know the start and end times, the topics to be discussed, and who is presenting what information. A compelling agenda will help get people on your call on time, ready to collaborate.
Track Participation. After you have taken attendance at the beginning of the call, keep a tally of who participates. Is Bob lurking in the shadows and staying quiet? Call on him for his insights and opinions. You will only have to do this a few times before people realize they can’t just dial in and go quiet.
Get Commitments. Make task assignments and clarification of next steps a non-negotiable part of every call. You cannot afford to let a call end without having a clear plan for what will happen next.
Follow Up. When the call is over, send out notes and a summary of commitments. Follow up individually with participants at appropriate times to ensure they are staying on track with their work.
Celebrate. Starting with the second conference call, recognize and celebrate the work accomplished to which your participants committed during the previous call. This positive feedback loop will help everyone understand the value of the conference calls and will keep them striving to fulfill the commitments they make during them.
While conference calls are not always ideal (sometimes the technology can be a big challenge!), they can save a lot of time and expense. The trick, of course, is to plan for the calls to be productive and successful, and then take the steps above to make the plan reality.
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Do you even need to have that meeting? Read this to decide for yourself.
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Learning Dynamics has been delivering customized employee training and development solutions to its clients for 35 years. Meetings that Drive Results is just one of many training initiatives that can help your organization improve efficiency and effectiveness. Contact Learning Dynamics today to learn more.