By Barbara Mitchell
Q: I do a lot of conference calls, and I find it hard to speak up and be heard. What can I do to be a more active participant?
A: Like so many things, a successful conference call requires planning and careful execution. The success of the call depends heavily on the organizer, but often, no one takes the time to plan the call.
Since many people work remotely or—especially in associations—interact with volunteers or other external team members, conference calls can be daily occurrences. Sometimes they even happen spontaneously. I've been in situations where a few people are meeting and suddenly decide to conference in another team member who has no idea the call is coming or what it's about—making it much harder for that person to contribute and for the call to be productive.
Ideally, just as if you were planning an in-person meeting, you should create an agenda, set timeframes for agenda items, and make sure the right people are on the call. Four is the optimal number of participants, but that may be unrealistic if you have a large team.
Since many people work remotely or—especially in associations—interact with volunteers or other external team members, conference calls can be daily occurrences.
Even if you're on a call with a large number of participants and the organizer has done little or no preparation other than to set up the call, there are some things you can do to model good conference call behavior.
Speaking up to get your point across takes courage and some practice, but if you follow these tips you should find that you’ll have more successful conference calls.
Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR and The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook. Do you have a question you'd like her to answer in "Ask the Expert"? Send it to [email protected].