Working from home always requires me to attend conference calls via Skype. After years of attending these calls and having to present to small and large groups of people, including conducting training across multiple time zones, I have certainly learned to be prepared and to put some practices in place to ensure these calls are a success. Following are my top 5 tips for successful conference calls.
If I am presenting or facilitating the call, I make sure that I have a list in front of me of each of the topics that need to be discussed. These are usually in bullet point form to keep me on track. There is nothing worse than finding that you get lost and can’t remember what you needed to say. It looks unprofessional, and silence on the end of the line can be intimidating.
Mute your phone when you are not speaking
I sometimes have a small child at home when I am working. I usually try to schedule my calls around when she is asleep, but that doesn’t always go to plan. By having my phone on mute when I am not talking, I reduce the background noise. There is nothing worse than being on a call and hearing someone tapping away at their keyboard or a dog barking in the background.
There is nothing more annoying than being dropped off a video call. Not only do you miss parts of the meeting, but you waste time and energy trying to reconnect. Make sure you have a reliable internet connection from wherever you are working and also know how to restart it quickly if something goes wrong. It is always best to have a backup if possible. If the system you are using has an app for your program, install it on your smartphone and know how to use it if you need to.
Don’t try to multitask
Whether you are using a webcam or are just on a conference call, try not to multitask and make sure you stay focussed on the call. There is nothing worse than someone asking you to comment on something or to answer a question and you weren’t paying close enough attention. If this does happen, ask them to clarify the question or say that you did not quite hear it correctly. Make sure this is something that doesn’t often happen as others will notice it on the call.
Dress appropriately and look into the camera
If it is a video call, make sure you dress appropriately. Also don’t wear anything too distracting such as stripes, polka dots, plaids or anything else that could be distracting on screen. Make sure you look directly into the camera. Many people look at their own image that makes them appear to be looking downward. You want to come across as being professional and confident.
If you have any other tips on conducting conference calls, I’d love to hear from you so please add them to the comments below.
Conducting a video conference is like any technology in that there are many benefits but also challenges. With a little patience and knowledge, these challenges can be avoided.