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You Are Here: Home - Newsletters - "Organized For A Living" - Article

Effective Meetings by Phone


Even a well-planned TELECONFERENCE can go poorly. Some people treat any meeting as a casual social activity instead of as a serious business project. And a teleconference brings special CHALLENGES because people attend them in the privacy of their office without being able to see or be seen by the other participants. Use these techniques to hold a more effective meeting by phone.
WHO ARE YOU?

Begin with a quick round of self INTRODUCTIONS so that everyone can find out who is present and hear everyone else's voice.
TAKE TURNS

Enforce the RULE of "one speaker at a time." Multiple conversations ruin a teleconference.
COMING AND GOING

Insist that people ANNOUNCE when they join or leave the conference.
WHEN YOU LOSE A PARTICIPANT

If people must leave during the meeting, gain CLOSURE on any issues that they participated in before they leave. For example, "Pat agreed to prepare a cost estimate by next Monday. Is that correct, Pat?" Make adjustments in the agenda (if appropriate) based on the remaining participants.
THE TOPIC AT HAND

Keep everyone FOCUSED on the issue being discussed. If someone introduces an idea that seems unrelated, say, "That sounds interesting. How does that relate to the issue?"
TAKING NOTES

RECORD the conference. First, this will help you prepare minutes. And second, it encourages people to make meaningful comments. Of course, you should announce that you are recording the meeting before you start.
GETTING PERSONAL

State your NAME each time that you speak. This helps everyone know that you are speaking.
NO SPEAKERPHONES

If you are speaking on your desk phone, use the HANDSET instead of the speakerphone. A speakerphone, while useful, distorts your voice, picks up background sounds (like office equipment), and makes a poor impression on the listener. If you must have both hands free while you talk, obtain a HEADSET. Note: It is more courteous to speak to people through the handset (instead of the speakerphone) on any phone call.
BEING UNDERSTOOD

Speak clearly to make sure that you are understood. Take the extra effort to ENUNCIATE carefully and speak slowly. Of course, you want to sound natural.
TAKE IT SLOW

When stating numbers, write them out while you speak because that defines the RATE at which everyone else is capturing them.
DID YOU GET THAT?

Then ask the receiving party to confirm numbers (or other critical data) by REPEATING them. Although this may seem awkward, it prevents misunderstandings. Better yet, send written copies of all critical information.
KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO SAY

When possible, plan your statements by jotting down an OUTLINE of your key ideas before speaking. This contributes to a more efficient meeting, helps you appear more thoughtful, and avoids the embarrassment of making a verbal gaff.
REALLY HEAR THEM

Use your best, most focused LISTENING skills. Pay addition to content, as well as inflections, voice tone, word selection, emphasis, assumed intentions, and your intuition.
A QUIET ENVIRONMENT

Avoid shuffling papers, moving about, or tapping objects. Everyone else will hear the noise. It's DISTRACTING and irritating.
SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS

Reinforce accomplishments by distributing COPIES of key ideas and agreements during the meeting. You can send these, for example, by e-mail or fax.
FOCUSING ON THE CALL

Stay fully PRESENT during the meeting. Avoid working on other tasks, such as reading mail or filing papers. These reduce your ability to participate intelligently in the meeting.
PUTTING PEOPLE ON HOLD

Avoid using the MUTE button to talk to someone in your office during the audioconference. First, this shows discourtesy to both parties -- the person in your office and the people in the teleconference. It also takes your attention away from the meeting, causing you to miss important information. And be warned that people have found themselves in serious trouble when the mute button FAILED.
FOLLOWING UP

Prepare MINUTES soon after the meeting. Send a draft to key participants to confirm that your notes accurately describe the results of the meeting. Minutes should be released within a day or two after the meeting in order to be useful. After that, they become stale.
A WONDERFUL TECHNOLOGICAL TOOL

Properly conducted, teleconferences contribute to the EFFICIENCY of effective business. Use the above techniques to make sure your meetings do that.

 

Steve Kaye helps leaders hold meetings that produce results - fast and with everyone’s participation. He is an IAF Certified Professional Facilitator, author, and speaker. His facilitation and workshops create success for everyone. Call 714-528-1300 or visit his website at www.stevekaye.com.


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