The host of a teleconference plays a vital role in arranging the meeting, coordinating the guest list, sticking to the agenda and generally keeping the teleconference on track. So what steps can you take to ensure everything runs smoothly and your meeting is hitch free?
Here are some helpful tips to make your teleconference efficient and productive:
1. Keep a guest list handy
Referring to your guest list allows you to keep track of who is in your teleconference and promotes a more structured approach, making the meeting easier to follow. When you need group input, refer to your guest list to help you guide proceedings and ensure one or two people don’t dominate the discussion. It will help you direct questions and prevent people from talking over each other, something which can happen without the visual cues of a traditional face-to-face meeting.
2. Set your agenda and identify goals
Before heading into your teleconference, set your agenda, clearly identify your meeting goals and, if possible, share these with your guests prior to your meeting.
On your agenda it is important to identify:
- the goals you want to achieve
- the length of time each goal has been allocated
- who will be speaking about each goal
3. Stay on track
As the host, keep the discussion on track so that it doesn’t stray too far off topic. You will be more likely to achieve your goals if you stick to your intended agenda. Doing this can also prevent you from skipping topics, exploring other tangents or venturing down rabbit holes. Focus on what is needed now and how to achieve those important goals.
If you do happen to go off track, remind guests of what you have already achieved and explain what still needs to be discussed. This way you can bring your guests back to the matter at hand rather than getting distracted by other issues that may have come to light during your meeting.
It is a good idea to write down other topics that do come up as they may be important. If it’s of high importance, add it to the agenda for that meeting. If not, you can decide whether the topic is worth a meeting or an email.
4. Formalise your question and answer process
Without the visual cues of a traditional face-to-face meeting, it can be tricky to coordinate a question and answer session during your teleconference. However, it is possible to run a successful Q&A session without interruption or distraction.
Formalise the structure of your Q&A session by making your guests aware of your Q&A process at the beginning of the teleconference. You could ask guests for their questions ahead of time, when you send out your meeting agenda. They can then also note down any other questions during the teleconference so they can ask them during a Q&A session at the end of the conference.
5. Know exactly who has joined and left your conference
It may be important for you to know who has entered or left your conference. You can find this out by asking your participants to say their name as they enter and announce when they are leaving. This allows you to keep track of your guest list at any given time and ensure you only direct questions to available guests.
If your participants aren’t co-operating, you can easily set up a name announce feature in your call. This will ask participants to record their name before entering the conference and the recording will play aloud in the conference as they enter and leave. This should be a free feature with most services.
In large conferences, it is also important that the guest says their name before asking a question so that you and the guests listening will know who is speaking. This may also be helpful in meetings with people who are not familiar with each other.
6. Eliminate background noise and interruptions
You’re potentially calling people across the country or even the world. You may have guests in their home office, workplace or even in a café, hotel or noisy airport. This may result in bad reception or distracting background noise that cannot be controlled by you or your guests. To prevent this noise from entering the call you can easily put all your guests on mute. During question time, tell your guests that they can unmute themselves to ask a question. You can do this easily through keypad shortcuts that your teleconferencing provider will give to you.