There's no denying that conference calls convey benefits. Not only can your employees attend meetings no matter where they are, but you can also coordinate your business with international branches. Providing you have an excellent Internet connection, dedicated attendees, and employees who are adept at using VoIP, nothing can go wrong, right?
Well, there are a few conference call habits that have the potential to kill the benefits of virtual meetings. While some of them arise from attendee behaviour, others stem from technical faults. Inappropriate conference call use costs US and UK businesses $34 billion per year. To prevent your Australian venture from taking a financial hit, it's worth understanding how bad conference call habits would kill a real life meeting. With this insight, you can avoid problems during your next conference call.
Messy and awkward introductions
As standard, a conference call will start with one person waiting patiently while the rest head into the virtual room. Like a real-life meeting, not everyone will arrive at the same time. With conference calls, there's a tendency to pop up, declare your name, and sit in awkward silence.
According to the Australian Institute of Business, great communication promotes innovation. Unfortunately, you'll struggle to ensure communication is great when your employees don't introduce themselves in a structured manner. Take a look at how real-life meetings work; it's usually the case that everyone introduces themselves before proceeding. If you start your conference calls in the same way, communications become easier.
Late attendance, phone distractions, and inappropriate noise
Can you imagine bringing your dog to a meeting? Or, how about your blender running in the middle of an important statement? Even worse, you could try taking a phone call and making a hasty exit to a party, after arriving late with no explanation.
While conference calls deliver flexibility and the ability to communicate with others no matter where they are, the examples above demonstrate how you can have too much of a good thing. When inappropriate background noise, late arrivals, and smartphone use become a common feature of your conference calls, you're not maximising their potential.
According to one study, those who respond to personal calls and emails will take a further 5 minutes to regain their concentration levels. Additionally, they have the potential to distract other employees. While 38% of employees admit to wanting to check their phones, 50% state that they want to know what a fellow employee is looking at when they're engaging in distractions.
To prevent distractions becoming a problem during your conference call, establish a few house rules ahead of time. While they're a flexible means of enjoying business communications, you do need to bring some formality to them.
Unique barriers to engagement
Imagine heading to a real-life meeting, only to find that you can hear John 60% of the time, but not for the other 40%. Or, John failing to enter the room altogether because he forgot how to open the door. John may stand there making his finest points, but the ingenious ideas leaving his mouth won't reach their audience.
In a real-life meeting, such instances would cause significant amounts of frustration. According to The Workforce Hub, conflict can waste up to 52% of the working day. As such, it's a good idea to stop the above frustrations from happening. Workforce Hub also highlight how body tone and language convey 90% of communication, resulting in lots of potential challenges when it comes to conference calls.
Reducing barriers to engagement relies on clear communication, employee cooperation, and dependable technology. Communicate an early arrival time and arrival instructions to prevent late starts. Check that employees are familiar with their software and can access a dependable Internet connection. Finally, consider the use of dependable webcams, which can overcome some of the visual challenges associated with conference calls.
Conference calls and human factors
Now, for the biggest conference call challenge. We're going to dive a little further into the lack of visual communication cues and how this has the potential to derail even the best of meetings.
Imagine attending your next meeting, only to find that everyone tries to talk over each other because they can't see who's trying to communicate. Then, their fast-paced chatter is followed with awkward pauses. A lack of eye contact throughout, coupled with some participants not making themselves known until the end means some employees may resist participating altogether.
According to one Watson Wyatt study, companies that prioritise effective communication have an employee turnover rate that's 50% lower than the national average. If conference calls play a big role in your business communications, it makes sense to overcome non-participation and a lack of visual cues. As some marketing experts correctly highlight, the ability to use visual cues to let colleagues know that you're listening boosts their confidence. When they can see that they're not speaking into thin air, they're more likely to make themselves heard.
If you're going to bring body language back to your conference calls, you need to prioritise technology. Ensure participants know they need to use dependable laptops with built-in webcams.
Ideally, they'll be able to access a high-quality webcam that works via a PC. They'll communicate from an open space where their presence is clear, and they'll be able to see others. Another way to achieve this is through the use of large split screens, which allow participants to see one another.
If you enjoy the benefits of conference calls and you want to overcome the challenges, come to us. We'll boost your communication skills, enhance your conference calls, and accelerate your business operations. Chat with a member of the Express Virtual Meetings team today.