Conference calls are a great way to connect many people all over not only a country but also the world. The convenience of being able to schedule calls, along with the ease of access to conference calls, allows companies to increase its efficiency and productivity. However, unlike in a real conference, it is harder to hold all participants accountable and focused. In fact, Wolf Management Consultants found that 91% of professionals tune out from time to time, and 73% are doing other work during a conference! Engaging participants in the call is important in making sure that everyone is on board and paying attention during calls. Here are a few ways to increase interest and engagement:
Set a Schedule and Structure
A common problem with many conference calls is that many people are unprepared or unaware of conference calls up until the call is happening soon. This often leaves some participants, especially in larger calls, unaware of what is going on, and often working on other tasks. By setting up a schedule for the calls well in advance, and sending out reminders, participants know well in advance about the call. When the call finally comes around, participants will have been able to plan their schedule around it, so they will be more likely to be on task and focused on the call.
Setting a structure for the conference call alongside the schedule is critical too. By setting down a structure for how the conference call should flow, participants will be able to know what to prepare for and expect so everyone is onboard. This reduces any confusion and consternation during the call. When combined with a schedule and reminders, participants will be going into the call prepared and ready for anything that may come up, which may even potentially speed up the call! Knowing what to expect and preparing for it, participants will be more likely to be active on the call.
Set a Leader and a Goal(s)
Another problem that can occur is the lack of focus in a call. There may be many items to discuss, but too many can cause an unfocused presentation that begins to drag on. The more a call drags on, the less engaged participants will become! Putting down solid objectives that can be met in a limited time frame will greatly improve the focus of the call. Participants know what to expect and can focus on problems that matter to them all rather than a spread of topics that may not apply.
A leader is very important amidst this all. A leader must be responsible for guiding the call and making sure everything is on track for a successful call. This leader needs to be making sure there is input from as many participants as possible by calling on random people and asking for opinions. A good leader will also field questions and be open to any questions by callers. By doing this, a leader can make sure participants are listening and giving more perspectives in a discussion. This not only creates a more interesting discussion but creates a more diverse one!
A review towards the end of the call is a good finale to any conference call. Any last-minute questions and concerns that weren’t covered during the call can be answered. Another great reason to do reviews is that it refocusses the team until the next call. Goals and objectives that were discussed are put back into perspective for participants. Asking participants what their new goal is now, and their plan of action makes them involved and ready to work on any new task that lies ahead of them. Reviews also help make people take ownership of calls and make them feel like they have gotten something out of the call. A more tangible result has occurred, and it makes sure that participants are more willing to continue and put into the calls so they can get more out of them in the future.
By combining these methods, and many others, a conference call will become more rewarding and engaging for all those involved. The more that people put into the call, the more they will get out of it. If this is made clear, it creates a positive feedback loop as participants put more and more into it, and get more and more out of it!