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.

A PowerPoint Paradigm Shift

Ever get into the rut of doing what you’ve always done because it’s comfortable – or because it’s the way it’s always been done? I’m talking about presentations – specifically the ones where you use PowerPoint. We were reminded of this when a client recently shared that he led a … 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

Influence with a Point of View

What’s your point of view? It’s not a “nice to have,” it’s a “need to have” – and let me tell you why: It’s hard to argue with getting better results. But don’t just take my word for it. Recently, a self-proclaimed “Decker Super-Fan” (for reference – she’s taken Communicate … 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

Green Means Go

Do you remember the movie Gone in 60 Seconds? Even if you remember it as a bad movie, it’s a good reminder about how quickly we can lose our audience. The first 30-60 seconds of our presentations, speeches or reports are always the hardest part. Physiologically, it’s when our hearts … Continue reading

Increasing Executive Presence

Looking for a shortcut to increase your executive presence? There are 4 key competencies you must master. As executives, the piece we most often overlook is the importance of being plainspoken. The sum of all of those abstractions (that many of us learned in business school – KPI, anyone?) does … Continue reading

What Do I Do with My Hands?

You’re standing at the front of a room of people. All eyes are on you. You know your content – phew. But there’s a nagging question that jumps to mind… (cue the video, below) We don’t advocate the politician gesture, and we’re not out to make everyone in business into a … Continue reading

Lightening Up!

True or False: To be taken seriously, you have to be serious? False. People buy on emotion and justify with fact. Whether we’re presenting at a quarterly business review (QBR), in front of your board or simply touching base in a one-on-one meeting, we have to be light! But don’t just take … Continue reading

Virtual Meetings, Naturally

How do you communicate effectively when you’re connecting via Skype, Google Hangout or a GoToMeeting video conference? I participate in at least 10 meetings every month from behind my computer screen, and I have great news: There is a magic key – a golden ticket, if you will – to … Continue reading