So you want to have a conference call? You can always start a conference call in minutes, however we suggest a bit more preparation for a conference between you and your co-workers. When inviting clients or customers to your conferences, there are a few extra things you will want to do.
First: Decide What Your Call is About
Write out what the meeting is going to be about and create an agenda, making sure to estimate how long each point will take. It's always good to give yourself 5-10 minutes of margin. Don't forget to budget time for questions.
Second: Decide Who
Once you've worked out when you want to have the call, decide who is going to be there. This is a good time to ask yourself if you'll be having a guest speaker or if you need an operator assistance.
Third: Send Your Invitations
Now that you have all of the above worked out, it's time to send out your invitations. Your email invitations should include:
- What the meeting is about
- Their call-in number and participant code
- When the meeting is and for how long
- An abbreviated version of the agenda
Your participants are taken care of, so where will you be? The beauty of audio conferencing is that you can host a conference call from pretty much anywhere. So your only guidelines should be to conduct your conference call from a quiet place where you won't be interrupted. And—for absolute best quality—use a landline. One final suggestion: use a headset. It's much more comfortable than cradling the phone in your neck.
Use this helpful conference call checklist before you plan your next meeting:
PREPARE YOUR CONFERENCE
__Choose the date and time.
__Determine if you need operator assistance.
__Will there be a guest speaker?
__Do you need a registration page?
__Do you want the conference call recorded?
__Will there be a visual element requiring web conferencing?
CREATE AN AGENDA
You need to write an agenda to send to speaker and participants so the know what to expect.
__Does it have a realistic timeline?
__Is there a need to have breaks?
__Will there be Q&A? How long will your Q&A session be?
__Do you need a different version for participants?
__Do you know how to mute your telephone?
__Is the sound quality on your conference good?
__Did you do a practice run to make sure that you know how to join the conference and the webinar?
__Do you have a backup method of connecting in case there is a problem with your connection?
Looking for ways to improve your speaking abilities? Here are four more resources:
Teleconferences have changed since they were first introduced. They have come far beyond on the "audio meeting" to become a potentially integral part of your business and sales strategy. We put our heads together and thought of some other ways that conference call services could be used to interview employees, make new sales connections, and a lot of other really awesome things.
- Operator Assistance - An operator will take over all of the technical aspects of the call. They will also prepare a unique introduction to your conference call. Not only is this a great way to create some formality on the call, it's also a great way to relieve some of the stress from the moderator.
- Host a Sales Presentation via Web Conference - Instead of driving across town or hopping on a plane to pitch your next client, try using a simple web conference. Put together a PowerPoint presentation and stay in your office. You can still field questions and show growth potential, you're just doing it from the comfort of your favorite chair.
- Don't Travel for One Month - In the same vein as the previous tip, plan on keeping the wheels down for an entire month. Limiting travel will not only save you money but grant a different perspective on how you can manage your business. A lot of companies don't realize how easy it is to use conferencing and limit the travel.
- Host a Job Interview via Conference Call - Typically, the beginning of the year is when companies start bringing in new employees. Instead of the typical face to face interview, have the initial interview over the phone. You'll hear how the potential employee handles themselves when all they have are their words and tone of voice to back them up.
- Interview a Leader From Your Industry - Use a conference service to record the interview and then turn it into a podcast and host it on your blog. Simple as that.
- Telecommuter Friday - This may sound crazy but it could be a good experience for you and your employees. If your businesses allows (some won't, like retail) pick one Friday as a test and let your employees telecommute. Many companies successfully operate in a virtual office environment and end up saving money without the need for office space, phone lines, etc.
- Invite Your Customers to a Q&A Session - Try a monthly or quarterly call with your customers to see what they think of any changes or updates you've made to your products. This is an exceptionally great idea for start ups that usually make a lot of changes right away and rely on feedback from the public to know what is working and what isn't.
- Add a PowerPoint to a Status Meeting - Punch up your next boring old status meeting by adding in a PowerPoint. Suddenly, an audible list of sales numbers, increases, and projections become colorful and memorable graphs and charts. Using visuals reaches out and grabs the audience’s attention to keep the focus on the meeting and nothing else.
- Use a Registration Page - Trying to see who is attending a status meeting? Want to know what potential client attended one of your web conferences? Set up registration pages and collect information like name, email, or phone number. It gives you the ability to see who joined the conference, who didn't, and once you download the registration list, it's a marketing contact sheet that immediately lets you see who is interested in learning more about your products.
- Invite the Press to Your Company Announcement - We recommend that you use this tip in conjunction with the operator assistance suggestion. Inviting the press to an announcement is a good way to generate buzz, get a little excitement about a project, or gain a little extra news coverage.
In 2012, we highly encourage you to try one (or more) of these uses of your conferencing services. You might be surprised that a lot of people use conference calls for these very reasons and that it works very well.