When organising a large conference, a Chair will usually have a committee to help them with some of the day-to-day tasks. As committee members may be spread across a State or country, it is not always viable for everyone to meet at one particular location. This has increased the popularity of conference calls. A conference call is where a number of people in various locations can have a real-time conversation with each other. There are a number of elements a conference call must have to be successful. Below are just some of the ways to make the most of conference calls, but first we will take a satirical look at how a conference call shouldn’t go, courtesy of Tripp and Tyler.
The agenda should be sent to each member 1-2 days before the call is scheduled to take place. This will allow each member to be prepared with questions on each topic beforehand. While committee members may have other burning questions to ask, ensure that all the topics for discussion on the agenda has been looked at first of all and any other questions are asked at the end. This will stop the call from going off the point. Any other questions that need to be answered can be done so at the end.
A conference call must be interactive to get the most benefit from it. Like in any group, there may be someone who speaks more than their fair share while others don’t speak at all. Your job as conference organiser of the meeting is to ensure there is as much interaction from each individual as possible. By allowing contributions from every committee member, you are ensuring that their views are taken into account during the call.
Keep the Interest on the Call
As the call is done over the internet or phone, it is hard to know if committee members are in fact paying attention. It can be easy for them to get distracted and begin to check their emails, for example. Similar to the point made above, the conference organiser can ensure everyone gets ample opportunity to express their views. This will increase the engagement of the committee as each will know their opportunity to speak will come and they need to pay attention.
Take Detailed Minutes
A committee member should be delegated to take the minutes of the meeting. One committee member might be taking the call in an airport, for example, and due to noise may miss an important point being made. By having detailed minutes, it will clear up any questions that the committee may have, and clarify what exactly was discussed at the meeting. These can be emailed after the conference call.