Unfortunately, conference calls aren’t exactly the most entertaining event in a professional’s life. Between dry content and monotone speakers, conference calls can feel like they drag on forever and seriously cut into the day’s productivity. If you’re hoping to host a more productive and entertaining conference call experience, here’s how. Follow these tips to spice up your conference calls and help callers remain engaged throughout its duration.
Have a Clear Goal and Expectations
Conference calls that don’t follow an agenda or have any specific goal/expectation are some of the most unproductive and distracting meetings. You must have a goal or at least an agenda that lists the meeting’s purpose and talking points in order to keep everyone’s attention and prevent disengagement. Using an agenda template can help you create the perfect plan for your calls, mapping out the subject matter, time slots, and even the guest list. Planning goes a long way when it comes to meetings. If you’ve ever participated in a meeting or call without an agenda, you know how quickly it can spiral into chaos. Unrelated topics are brought up, people compete to be heard, and the meeting becomes a complete waste of time for everyone in attendance. In conclusion, you should:
- Have a plan, goal, or expectation for each call
- Use an agenda or some other planning template
- Share the agenda with attendees
- Assign time slots
Humor is Great-In Moderation
Humor makes everything more bearable, but just like anything else, there’s a time and a place. While humor is ok in your conference calls and can make things more friendly, there are still some guidelines you’ll want to follow. First and foremost, humor should be kept work-friendly and should be considerate of everyone in the call. For example, racist, sexist, or otherwise offensive humor is definitely not a good idea in a conference call or in any professional environment. Too much humor can also become distracting and even quite annoying. We’ve all run into a person who thinks everything is a setup for a joke, and this behavior quickly becomes irritating after a while. If you choose to introduce humor into a conference call, do so sparingly and in a way that isn’t going to offend the other callers or cause you any potential problems.
Stay on Schedule
Whether you’re using video meeting software to connect digitally or a traditional landline connection, your meetings will need to have a set schedule to keep everyone engaged. Longer calls are more draining, and can even reduce the day’s productivity after the call is over. If you’ve ever attended a call that was more than an hour long, you likely felt ready for a nap afterward; not prepared to complete more tasks. Keep your meetings as short as possible, and be sure to end them either on time or before the meeting’s scheduled ending time. You can either use a timer or simply keep an eye on the clock, and setting time slots for specific speakers or subject matter can help the meeting stay on track. Don’t be afraid to let other callers know when their time is up, but be courteous about it. Cutting someone off or muting them when their time runs out is considered rude and can make the caller feel disrespected.
Offer Incentives for Attending
Some managers and supervisors actually offer small incentives for attending conference calls, whether it’s a small gift or points for every call or meeting that employees attend. You can choose this option to give your employees even more reason to join the calls and stay engaged. Incentives aren’t necessary, of course, but some managers find that they get better results when they offer a small incentive for attending. Don’t think of this as bribing your employees to attend conference calls, but rather rewarding them for their continued commitment to the company and the subject matter at hand.
Spice up Dry Content
The bane of any conference call is overly-dry content. Let’s be honest here; finance, human resource development, and other business subjects can be quite dry. Sitting through a meeting about finances can leave your eyelids feeling heavy and your brain exhausted. Spicing up the dry content can make a meeting more engaging and even a little bit fun for the attendees. This includes ensuring you’re not using a monotone voice, including some humor in your discussions, and encouraging questions and commentary from the other callers. These simple additions to the call can make it more bearable, and combined with shortened meetings, can ensure that everyone stays awake and aware during the entirety of the call.
Spicing up your conference calls is easy when you follow these simple tips. Remember that humor is a great way to improve calls, but it needs to be work-appropriate and not over-used. Keeping meetings short and having some kind of plan will make for better conference calls every time.