As much as I try to handle client communications through email, I always have clients who want to have conference calls to discuss projects. About the only thing I hate more than sitting on a conference call is driving across town for a pointless meeting.
Now, I know what you’re thinking—What’s so bad about getting on the phone to talk to a client?
In theory, conference calls are a good thing. They allow you to brainstorm and interact in a way that you can’t really do with email. They also help you strengthen your relationships with clients, because there’s just something about hearing the other person’s voice that makes the relationship more human.
But the problem is that most conference calls end up being a waste of time. They are filled with ideal chatter, unprepared participants, people talking over one another, dropped calls, mumbling people who are impossible to understand…shall I go on?
Fortunately, there are some things I’ve been able to do to make the conference calls I participate in a little more productive.
- Create an agenda and email it to all participants before the call—Make a quick outline of the main points that need to be discussed during the conference call. Email this is everyone who will be participating on the phone call, and urge them to have the agenda on hand at the time of the call.
- Gather everything you need ahead of time—Take a look at the agenda for your call. Will you need to gather any materials to reference during your call? For example, if the conference call is about the discussing the mockups for your new logo design, you’ll need to have those mockups on hand for the call. Be prepared so you aren’t scrambling during the call and holding everything up.
- Stay on schedule—Start the call on time. End it on time. Simple.
- Take notes during the call—Invest in a hands-free headset for your phone so that you can easily type or write down notes as you talk. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a lengthy conference call about something important, only to have everyone later forget and ignore the things you discussed. Write everything down.
- Send a summary to all participants afterward—Once the call is finished, create a brief meeting summary based on the notes you took. Provide a brief recap of what you discussed, and if there are specific action items that people need to follow up on, mention that in your summary.
What tips do you have for making conference calls more productive?