In today's business world, teleconferencing has become an essential tool.
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Now more than ever before, companies are turning to teleconferencing to cut back on time spent away from the office.
In addition to the cost savings from teleconferencing, other key benefits include saving money and reducing stress from too much travel. In light of the recent Swine Flu outbreak, one could also make the case that teleconferencing helps maintain office health, simply by reducing exposure to germs and viruses.
Across the board, teleconferencing is becoming such a standard practice that it is easy to forget the basics involved with making sure that teleconferencing is truly productive and worth the time invested.
To help you ensure worthwhile, meaningful teleconferences, we've created a list of best practices for teleconferencing.
These simple tips for teleconferencing will help you to make your long-distance meetings highly successful:
- Designate a teleconference leader. You should always a single individual owns the teleconference, defines the agenda, and manages the flow of the call.
- Determine ahead of time how long the conference will run and stick to that schedule.
- Make sure all locations involved are informed of the teleconference details well in advance of the call and that they understand how to use any technologies involved (e.g. web conferencing or online meeting software).
- Invest in good teleconferencing equipment. It's worth the investment.
- Distribute written agendas to all participants with estimated time frames for each point on the schedule.
- Ask the teleconference leader to recap the goals of the meeting before beginning, and if applicable, review the goals or details from the previous meeting.
- Be very conscientious of time zones. Rotate the times of the teleconferences to be fair to participants in other geographic areas and to accommodate the demands of their workdays. Make sure that everybody knows the time zone for the teleconference so that nobody shows up hours early or late for the call.
- Steer clear of luncheon or breakfast meetings. During a teleconference, it is distracting to hear or watch people eat, as well as to have background noises like clanking plates or cups clattering on saucers.
- Encourage conference leaders to make sure everyone attending the meeting has had a chance to contribute. This is especially important if there are a few individuals who are particularly vocal and usurp the roles of others.
- Always end the call with a wrap-up of what was discussed and who agreed to be responsible for what action items. It's a good practice to email a call summary to all participants as well.
- Follow-up. Don't take up a lot of time, but do touch base with teleconference attendees after the call and find out if anything can be done more effectively or efficiently the next time you need to arrange a teleconference meeting.
As teleconferences become the norm for business meetings, it's easy to take them for granted. That's a mistake. By applying these simple principles, you can make sure you make the most of your conference calls.