Saturday, July 31, 2010

Call recap

Immediately after the conference call, create a recap and send it to all the participants. This recap serves two purposes: 1) it ensures everyone understands and has a list of their responsibilities and 2) it documents the conversation in writing in case there are any discrepancies later. You might find you're saved more than once by a good call recap. Remember to ask for corrections or adjustments to the recap if any are needed.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Ask questions

At the end of the conference call, ask if anyone has questions and make sure they are answered or will be answered after the call. If a follow up meeting is needed, schedule this before anyone hangs up. Thank everyone for their time and wish them a good day or week(end).

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Stay focused and take notes.

During your conference call, avoid using the mute button while others are speaking if possible. People in the office are less likely to interrupt you while you are on the call if you look like you’re involved. This is your opportunity to show how much you know about the topic you’re discussing. Don’t over promise and feel free to say you’ll get back to everyone with answers to questions you were not expecting.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Follow your agenda.

You took the time to put it together, so follow it. Be sure you keep an eye on the clock as attendees may not be able to stay past the scheduled stop time. Be aware of the time needs of your presenters. It’s your job to make sure everything is covered during your conference call.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Be prepared with small talk.

Usually, at least one person will be late for your conference call, so have some notes handy to initiate small talk and avoid a long silence at the beginning of the call. Make sure all the attendees are introduced (name, title and the role they play) to anyone they are not familiar with, especially your clients. Start the call 3-5 minutes after the scheduled start time when possible, even if all attendees are not present.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Review any information you’ll be presenting on your conference call.

Start the conference call on time. Log on to the conference call 10 minutes early if possible. Some tools won’t let you log on until the time scheduled and others won’t let anyone communicate until a leader with a special password logs in. Be sure to test the bridge in advance if you are unfamiliar with the tool you’ll be using.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Preparing for your conference call.

Make a list of attendees who will be on your conference call, including where they are from and general personal information you have about them. You can use this to chat while you’re waiting on additional attendees to join.
Send a reminder email the day of the call if it is after lunch, or the day before if the call is scheduled in the morning. This will help make sure everyone arrives on time. You can also use this opportunity to send any reports or documents that will be needed on the call. If someone else created these materials, be sure to give them credit (or prevent blame from falling on you) by forwarding the message they sent to you containing the documents or saying “I’ve attached John’s report, which he will be walking through on the call”. It is your responsibility as the leader of the call to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that everyone has completed their responsibilities prior to the call.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Schedule and plan your conference calls.

Be mindful of others' schedules when you decide on the time for your conference call. If other attendees are in different areas, businesses, or time zones, make sure you are not interfering with their plans. Avoid lunch breaks, first thing in the morning calls, and calls that require an attendee to work after normal business hours.

Send out a meeting request.
As soon as you’ve decided on a time, send a meeting request. This meeting request should include everything the attendees and participants will require to log into the call (call in number and password) and an agenda with topics that need to be discussed, including a list of responsibilities. The agenda should cover any questions or concerns you anticipate from other members. Focus on the positive aspects first, then cover challenges and offer solutions or ideas to overcome any obstacles you discuss.

Avoid using a client's or manager's conference bridge since logging in early may interrupt another call or cost your client money.

Any tasks you assign to someone else should be discussed before you send out the agenda. The last thing you want to do is tell a client or manager that someone else will have something, when you didn't ask that person to do the work yet.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Be an effective conference call leader.

A leader ensures that comprehension is a priority. They concentrate on creating a communication friendly environment for everyone to appreciate and enjoy. How can a native English speaker expect a non-native speaker to participate or follow directives during a conference call if they have trouble understanding? Of course, the minutes of the meeting often follows the call. However, productive and rewarding relationships are at stake. If there is little or no comprehension during a call, then non-native participants may as well not participate. They may feel alienated and understand more from the written minutes.
· An effective leader guarantees that every participant articulates and speaks slowly.
· An effective leader guarantees that participants actively ask for clarification, one way to achieve this is to previously know each attendee role at the conference and prepare some question for each one of the participants.
· An effective leader guarantees that participants understand by clarifying important details and actions at the end of each topic.
· An effective leader guarantees that if there is background noise, the call is put on hold until the noise is removed.
· An effective leader guarantees that there is feedback at the end of the call to see how communication could be improved during the next call.
Be careful not to offend the non-native speakers by clarifying too often or clarifying topics that are very simple. Mistakes will happen but you can minimize them by paying careful attention.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Conducting calls with non-native English speakers on the call.

During your conference call with non-native English speakers check for understanding at the end of every topic, "Is that comprehensible?", "Was I comprehensible?", or "What questions do you have?" are all good ways to check for understanding.

Do not rush into the next topic. Be sure to give at least 30 seconds between topics for questions and clarification. At the end of each topic, rephrase important details and actions, even if participants do not ask for clarification.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Conference call tips continued...

While conducting your conference call, slow down the communication process. Pause between ideas, every three to five sentences, to give non-native speakers an opportunity to understand before continuing.

This is a great time to politely confirm that everyone participating understands what has been said up to this point. Most people will appreciate being given a chance to ask for clarification.

Stay tuned for more tips...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Successful conference call tips.

When listening to another speaker during a conference call, don't over- or under-use "continuers" (words like "uh-huh" that let the speaker know you are still listening). It's okay to use a continuer if the speaker has paused, but it's not okay to interrupt with a continuer, or to have dead silence on the line for an uncomfortable period of time. Silence can be a powerful communication tool to allow for understanding of complex ideas and time to formulate questions.

Lots more to come...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Great tips to successfully lead a conference call.

Successfully leading a conference call gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to manage and direct others. Here are a few tips to make sure the call is successful while ensuring you present the best possible picture of yourself.
Conference calls may be one of the most excruciating experiences for non-native English speakers. A number of factors can make a conference call difficult, sound quality, subject matter, number of participants, and a lack effective leadership during the call.
Articulate and speak slowly and comfortably. Don't overuse noises like "um" or "uh".

More tips to come...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

More tips on conducting a successful conference call.

1. Get all the information that the participants will need to call in. Usually this is a phone number and some kind of password.
2. Test the conference bridge in advance if you are unfamiliar with the tool you’ll be using
3. Schedule your conference call and invite other people to attend.
4. Make sure you can make the call from a quiet location with minimal background noise.
5. Start the call. Be on time. Log on to the conference call 10 minutes early if possible. Some tools won’t let you log on until the time scheduled and others won’t let anyone communicate until a leader with a special password logs in.
6. Wait for everyone to join and then start talking!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Back to basics.

How to make a conference call.
1. Find a conference call provider. You can pay per conference call (and get charged according to how many people call in, how long the call lasts, etc.) or purchase a flat rate conference call service, in which you have unlimited access to a conference bridge at a fixed monthly cost.
2. Some services will require you to buy hardware and/or add/switch long distance service, but there are prepaid conference call services that will allow you to use your landline telephone, mobile phone, or computer.
3. Consider if you want a toll free conference call service (ex: 1-800) number, or if you want participants to pay long distance charges when they call in.
4. Conference calls can also be used in conjunction with web conferences, so participants can view documents or presentations simultaneously while on the call.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Added options to look for when considering a Conference Provider for Toll Free Conference Calling.

In addition to the options mentioned in yesterday’s entry on what to look for with Flat Rate Conference Calling, the following options should be available with Toll Free Conference Calling if you choose to need them.
· Toll Dial-In Number
· International Toll Dial-In Number
· Dial out Capability (additional charges apply)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Options to look for when considering a Conference Provider for Flat Rate.

· Roll Call-Name Record/Play
· Music Security Feature
· Lecture Mode/Muting capabilities
· Recording and Playback
· Toll Dial-In Number
· Online Access to Your Account is available
· Moderator Controls can be Accessed from the Web
· Security (locks conference so no additional participants can join)
· .mp3 download of recording (additional charges may apply)
· CD Copy of Recording (additional charges apply)
· Allow choice of Continuation of Conference After Moderator Exits
· Change Conference Entry and Exit Options (name announce, tone, or silence)
· Full Time Operator Attended Conference (additional charges apply)
· Listen only mode - all lines are muted except the moderator's, participants cannot un-mute their line
· Operator Attended Polling (additional charges apply)
· Operator Attended Q&A sessions (additional charges apply)
· Quick start mode - allows conference to begin before moderator arrives

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Benefits & Advantages of using Bows Conference Call Sevices automated conferencing:

· No contracts
· No minimums
· No signup fees
· No per conference fee
· No reservation required
· No time limits
· Fully automated access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
· Convenient and simple to use
· Built in security
· 24/7 available conference service
· Permanent toll free number and pass code
· Port Spectel-MultiLink Conferencing Bridge
· Fully redundant, robust fiber optic Digital Network

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Conference Call Etiquette - Tip #11

Boy scouts Motto: Always Be Prepared.
Unless your conference call is an emergency meeting, there is no excuse for a lack of preparation from each and every participant. If you are well aware that a conference call is scheduled - then be prepared with an outline of the important issues you'd like to discuss.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Conference Call Etiquette - Tip #10

Who is speaking?
Every time a participant needs to speak on the conference call they should always begin by introducing themselves. Other participants may not recognize your voice to determine who is speaking - so always make it clear throughout the duration of the conference call each time you need to speak

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Conference Call Etiquette - Tip #9

HOLD on using "hold"
If your hold feature plays music - NEVER put the conference call on "hold" to answer another call! Otherwise every participant in the conference call will be enjoy the beautiful music you've selected (NOT!).

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Conference Call Etiquette - Tip #8

Use Your Mute Button! When any participant is not speaking during the conference call, they should engage the "Mute" button on their phone and only release it when they need to speak. Any type of background noise can be disruptive and can inhibit the clarity of the transmission.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Conference Call Etiquette - Tip #7

Basic Rules - Educate The Participants
Each participant of a conference call should be aware of some basic rules.
Be Punctual! Again, always be considerate of others' schedules. Make sure you are ready for the conference call a few minutes ahead of time.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Conference Call Etiquette - Tip #6

Ending The Call
When your conference call is over, recap the main points of the meeting. Go over the outcome of the meeting and stress the goals and the actions you expect from them. Thank everyone for their participation and state that the meeting is formally over.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Conference Call Etiquette - Tip #5

Group Participation
During a conference call, occasionally ask participants for their opinion or concerns about the topic you're covering. Always address someone by name - they'll pay much closer attention if they think they might be called upon for their input.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Conference Call Etiquette - Tip #4

Stick To The Minutes!
If a conference call is scheduled to last 30 minutes ...then make sure it lasts no more than 30 minutes. Always be considerate of others' schedules. Format your conference call and allot a specific amount of time for each topic on the agenda. Have someone help you by timing the minutes allocated for each topic. They can signal you when the time has come to move on to the next order of business.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Conference Call Etiquette - Tip #3

Don't Let Anyone Throw You Off Track
If someone asks a question or brings up a subject that does not pertain to the topic at hand, suggest to discuss the issue at the end of the conference call - and make a note on a new index card and put it on the bottom of the pile.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Conference Call Etiquette - Tip #2

Stick To The Agenda
Follow an outline for your conference call agenda. This keeps the meeting focused and provides cohesion so your conference call will be more productive. The easiest way to stick to the agenda when hosting a conference call is to outline the agenda on index cards. Write down each point you need to cover on a separate index card and stack them in order. Flip through each card as the topic of discussion is covered. You can even take notes that are appropriate to each topic on the the back of the index card.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Conference Call Etiquette - Tip #1

Begin your conference call with a powerful greeting. Remember, you only get one chance to make a first use it wisely. The impression you make in the first few seconds of a conference call can determine whether or not your audience will be attentive and receptive.