As a veteran teleworker, conference calls are a fact of everyday life, whether traditional voice or video formats. Here are my 10 tips for making your long-distance meetings more effective and less frustrating for everyone.
- Create an Agenda – create an agenda and send it out before the meeting, preferably the day before. Clearly list where participants are expected to contribute information.
- Introduce Participants – as members join the call or video, welcome him/her and then state who has already joined the call. It is helpful to list all of the members who have joined one last time before starting with the opening agenda item. Especially with voice only calls, the inability to “see” who is there makes it essential everyone knows who is on the call.
- Announce yourself– when stating a point, preface your comment with “[your name] here or This is [your name]” so everyone knows who is talking. Address specific input by using the person’s name or clarifying who is talking.
- Take action items – be sure to write down all action items and summarize as you take them, such as, “So, I have taken the action item for Tom to complete the project plan on Monday.”
- Use a note taking system – Microsoft’s OneNote is a software program specifically designed for this type of function. Paper notes work or even a Word document, but be sure you have good notes.
- Conclude the meeting – wrap up the main points, thank everyone for their time, and state when you will send out the meeting notes and action items.
- Create meeting notes – using the agenda as your guide, condense your notes into bullet points for each topic.
- Email notes – in a simple email, send your notes, with a simple action item list clearly detailing the task, person responsible, and due date at the top.
- Address your action items – be sure to complete your action items and email a report back to the team.
- Next meeting agenda – use the action item list and meeting notes to construct the next meeting agenda.
If you implement these simple 10 steps for every meeting, your participants will come to expect a certain order to your meetings and, over time, this system will make each conference call meet more effective for you and for those attending.