Avoid Conference Call Hell

Kudos to Tripp and Tyler and the folks at Leadercast for humanizing the Conference Call in Real Life. Even if you have already seen this video, it’s worth watching again because it will make you laugh:

With just a few adjustments, you can make your next conference call more efficient.

Here’s How:

Create an action plan – and stick to it

Most calls just share information. Instead, shift the focus to drive action. If the word “update” is in your agenda, take it out. Then, send your agenda and dial in/access information in advance. If you have materials to review during the call, send those ahead of time, too. This will help callers keep their heads in the game.

Show energy

When nobody can see you, it’s even more important to have energy and vocal variety in your voice. Add energy by standing up, smiling, raising your eyebrows, moving and gesturing (yes – even though it’s just a call). Getting other voices on the line will also help keep the energy level up – which leads us to our next tip…

Don’t make it a one-person show

It’s easy to hit “mute” and multitask during a call. Admit it – we’ve all done it. How do you nip this in the bud? Involve others. Give a heads-up to a few people in advance – to let them prepare, themselves, and reduce those awkwardly long quiet patches. If they know they might have to weigh in on the fly, they’ll multitask less.

Own it

Calls can often get out of hand. If it’s your call, own it and run the show. Keep it on time. When you want interaction, discussion and dialogue, ask targeted questions.

Sum it up

Before everyone hangs up, don’t forget to call out action items. Confirm any deadlines and clarify next steps. Delegate where necessary before everyone hangs up.

These tips, though small, can make a huge impact on your next conference call.  Whether you use them during your weekly 8am team meeting, or in special circumstances like delivering bad news to your team, they are easy to adopt and incorporate into everyday life.

Try it on your next call.

Crisis Communication: Power of Your Voice

While I was driving to work, I was listening to the morning news on the radio. During a report about the latest Ebola outbreak, I was shocked to hear a voice of calm – it was a doctor and scientist with great bedside manner. Check out the audio from this … Continue reading

Coordinating Schedules? You Can Do Better.

Ever have the experience where you get an email asking if you and another colleague are willing to talk, huddle, brainstorm or follow up on a new initiative? Contrast these two examples: “Can you meet for 30 minutes on Thursday between 9-11am to discuss the new initiative? If not, give … Continue reading

Upspeak: Destroyer of Credibility

Invisible question marks – ending sentences on a higher pitch is a plague that has seeped from middle school girls into our business communications. Maybe even to yours. Taylor Mali’s Def Poetry Jam explains: I’ve witnessed upspeak at the highest levels of Fortune 100 companies, and I’ve heard it used … Continue reading

Commencement Speech: How to Rock It

As April showers make way for May flowers, graduates prepare to turn their tassels and toss their hats in the air. But what happens first? The commencement speeches, of course! For the grad, leader or educator preparing for a commencement speech, I bring you a special “how to” guide for … Continue reading

Establishing Executive Presence

The phrase “executive presence” is not new, but it’s gaining traction. I heard it referenced in seven meetings with executives from seven different companies last week, alone. What does it mean? It’s a way to describe confidence. Not to be confused with arrogance, demonstrating executive presence means showing that we … Continue reading

Literally – Just a Filler Word

If there were Survivor for words, I’d vote off “literally.” It’s inserted into sentences for no real reason. Consider: I am literally the hungriest person in the world right now. I am literally going to break this printer in a minute. The coffee machine is literally the slowest thing on … Continue reading

How to Rock an Acceptance Speech

Every time you speak, you create an experience for your listeners – whether they are your colleagues, kids, PTA or soccer team. In the case of Oscar acceptance speeches, it is no different. What is said and how it’s said combine to create either a this-is-a-great-time-for-a-bathroom-break or a riveting, tear-jerking, … Continue reading

Are You A Leader We Can Bank On?

“Focus on the jockey as much as the horse. Or, if racing eludes you, bet on the head coach…would you feel confident investing your hard-earned money on a legal bet this weekend on a team in the NFL without researching or knowing the history of the coach of that team?” - … Continue reading

Nodding but not Listening?

Imagine this: you’re sitting in a meeting and suddenly realize you’ve misplaced your wallet. Oh no! What happens to your ability to listen to the speaker? It decreases. You still hear what the presenter is saying – even look involved and interested – but you are far more engaged with … Continue reading