At CounterPath, we're huge ambassadors for remote working. With offices across North America and team members throughout Europe, we've learned to embrace both the benefits and challenges of having remote teams. Recently, many teams are transitioning to working remotely and conference calls have become the new norm to team meetings.
In this blog, we'd like to take a look at a few best practices for conference calls we can all implement to make team communication more effective and efficient.
Best Practices for Planning Efficient Conference Calls
Remote work requires purposeful and planned communication. Without proper planning, tasks can get missed, or things can be miscommunicated. Like any meeting, creating an agenda and items to discuss in an outlined form will help keep the meeting more efficient.
Create shareable documents or presentation slides to outline objectives, align on next steps, clarify questions and closing summary slides. Those documents will make sure that everyone is on the same page and will be a great reference for anyone catching up on the conference or needing to refer to it later on. Plan time to confirm the next steps, responsibilities and deadlines with everyone.
If you are not the facilitator of the meeting, ensure that that facilitator will be able to provide the agenda for all attendees, and to be able to manage the visual or verbal cues to engage participants. eg. raising hands for questions, calling on names for speakers.
Preparations Prior to Setting Up the Conference Call
When preparing virtual meetings for the first time with new team members, it’s a best practice to test your equipment and connections beforehand. For key speakers or presenters, making sure that important materials, screen sharing or white-boarding features are accessible is key to an efficient meeting without technical interruptions. Make sure that your camera, microphone and speakers are functioning and that your visual surroundings are non distracting.
When possible, establish online video conferencing connections several minutes prior to the meeting and plan for a backup communication plan in case you have trouble connecting to participants.
When appropriate, plan time at the beginning of the call for everyone to make introductions and to be clear on roles and responsibilities.
Invest In An Appropriate Conference Calling Software
If you need a variety of features for your conference calling needs, look into investing in a unified communications solution. Bria UC softphone solutions, by CounterPath, streamline work communications and let users easily connect, communicate, and collaborate. Bria includes features such as HD voice and video calling support calling, when integrated with a business' call server (PBX) or VoIP service.
Bria Enterprise also provide hosted messaging and presence services, screen sharing, video conferencing and more.
A Bria solution enables your teams to take their business number with them, regardless of where they are and which device they are using, and also provides additional tools to easily share a presentation on their screen, and meet face to face on video calls, and even transfer files within a chat.
Keep Presentation Slides Simple
Conference calls can often go in many directions. If you’ve planned out your meeting appropriately you should have slides or notes for participants to follow along. It’s important to keep these slides simple so that team members are not spending too much time reading as you’re explaining through the information. It’s important to keep everyone focused during a long conference call. Present the most important pieces of information and prepare supplementary notes as a reference to send as a follow-up email.
Whether it’s a follow-up email or conference call recordings, by sending notes post meeting, you're driving home the main points of the call and reminding everyone of their actionable items. In addition, for team members who are unable to attend the conference, they can listen to the recording or read the follow-up email to stay updated.
Collecting Feedback and Iterative Conference Call Processes
Suddenly transitioning to virtual work can mean lots of changes in the way teams communicate. During this time, it’s important to try new things, to see what works for various teams. Remember that there is no one size fits all solution for conference calls. Collect feedback from participants post-meeting and try different ways of planning these calls, different break times, and collaborating through different tools to see what works best for your team. Consider the best way certain teams need to communicate through a conference call and the times or ways they prefer to meet virtually.
Leave Room for Socializing
While keeping discussions on topic makes for an efficient conference call, leaving room for socializing at the very beginning or end of work meetings can boost connectivity. Feeling connected to your teammates can boost team morale. Isolation when working from home can make one feel alone or more anxious. Being a team means not just rushing into work when starting a meeting. Leaving room for socializing, implementing fun games or even just catching up can be a great way to spend time together.
CounterPath is in the business of facilitating productive remote work for teams across the globe. We recently detailed what business leaders can do to better manage a mobile workforce in the wake of the COVID-19 public health crisis.