Effective Conferencing Techniques:

Imagine you are about to professionally speak to 30 people on a teleconference call where the interaction is audio only. Reading the reactions of your audience is very difficult because there are no visual clues.  All you have to guide you are your ears, imagination, and intuitive senses. Facilitating a teleconference is an art that many business professionals need to learn in order to be effective.


Structuring a teleconference methodically not only saves you valuable time (as well as the participants’), but also proves to be an effective and efficient way to get all parties on the “same page.”   Begin by deciding the focus for your conference – do you want a “learning-focused” or a “lecture-based” teleconference call? The number one mistake people make is thinking that all conference calls are the same. Knowing the difference between these types of calls helps you plan and implement your call effectively.


Here are some tips in organizing a successful teleconferencing session:


Organization & Planning


  • Develop an agenda that includes:
    • Goals
    • Participant expectations
    • Timeline of deliverables
  • Plan accordingly:
    • Ask participants to review the agenda prior to the call
    • Consider the impact of  participant comment  volume  on time available when determining the number of agenda items
  • Scheduling and Preparation:
    • Make sure all the participants have all the required information (the access phone number, the conference code, etc.)
    • Distribute supporting documents/files before the call start
  • Starting the call:
    • As the facilitator,  dial-in 5-10 minutes early and be the first to arrive
    • If appropriate, ask early arrivals to greet subsequent arrivals as a team-building activity
    • Find out if there are any individual time constraints and adjust accordingly
  • Stay on topic:
    • Sticking to the published agenda reduces costs and makes the teleconference more profitable
    • Provide your participants contact information in order to contribute possible topics for future conferences
  • Share leadership duties:
    • Help less engaged people become more involved in the call
    • Ask individuals to “lead” sections of the agenda
    • During the call, pause occasionally and ask for feedback
  • Wrap things up:
    • Provide a brief recap of all items discussed
    • Re-iterate the contact information for those participants that need further clarification or would like to contribute future topics


Teleconferencing can take some practice to be effective but in the long term, it will save your organization a tremendous amount of time and money. 


How to Increase Teleconference Attendance


Have you ever had a significant amount of people register for a teleconference, and then only half of them show up? You’re not alone. This sort of thing is common for large volume teleconferencing (100+ people). It depends on the type of call, but our data shows an average turnout of 40-50%.


Do you want more than the “average” turnout? Here are some tips to boost attendance:


Remind Your Participants – Remind your participants by sending an email or making a quick phone call. Sometimes people want to attend, but they forget.


Use a Guest Speaker – Invite a high-profile speaker. This can be an industry professional or a prominent member of your company. Inform participants that you will be hosting a live Q & A session with your guest speaker.


Take Attendance – Participants will be less likely to skip when they know that their name will be called out. A little accountability can go a long way.


Out-Dial – Instead of having participants call you, you should call them. Our blast-dial feature enables everyone on your list to be called at the same time. You can also have one of our operators assist you with the out-dial process.


Incorporate Media – Keep your attendees engaged and they’ll come back for more. Use Video, Power Point, Live Polls and Text-Based Chat to enhance your conferencing experience.


Keep it Entertaining – Incorporate humor throughout your meeting and find ways to keep it interesting. You can create a funny and interactive poll, show a comic strip or share a joke.


Consistency – Plan your calls for the same time and same day so that your participants are less likely to forget. In addition, your participants will begin to anticipate your meetings and plan accordingly.


Toll-free – Flat rate conferencing does not get the same response as toll-free. If people need to pay for the call, then they are less likely to attend.


Last-Minute Reminder – Nothing works better then a last-minute reminder. Send a short email about an hour before the conference call begins.


Conference calls can be a productive and efficient way to hold a meeting, especially for individuals who would otherwise have to travel far distances to attend. However, if the call is not conducted in a professional and organized manner, it can be a waste of time for your participants and yourself. Below are 10 ways you can create a successful conference call.


Organize and Prepare


One of the most important things to remember before any phone meeting is to be prepared and organized. This step is crucial if you want to accomplish the items on your agenda and keep your participants engaged throughout the meeting. Prepare ahead of time for the topics you want to discuss. Create an agenda or an outline of the call for yourself and your attendees. Also, prepare as much material as possible before the meeting so that you will not waste time on useless topics.


Encourage Participation


When others feel comfortable, you create an environment for ideas and strategies to develop. If you are hosting or managing the conference call, ask your participants questions. Let them know that you value their opinions. Letting others participate in the phone call is key. People who aren't involved easily tune out and become lost in their own daydreams and will not provide the feedback or the help you may be seeking.


Many conference call services provide features to involve your attendees. These features may include polling, surveying and Q&A capabilities. For many services, these features can be accessed by entering in certain codes on the dial pad. At the beginning of your conference calls, go through these codes and ensure that your participants are aware of how they can contribute to the conversation.


Be Punctual


Just like any other business meeting, it is important that you arrive early. Dial into the call a few minutes early. If you wait until the last minute, you may encounter technology issues that can take time to fix. You may also find that you have the wrong dial-in number or pass code to access the phone meeting. Being punctual to your meeting is also another way you can be prepared and ready to participate.


Be Aware of Your Location


Your location is critical during a conference call. If you are in a loud area, you may have a difficult time hearing the conversation over the phone line. Additionally, you will want to seclude yourself from others. By being in the same area with many people, you may find yourself quickly distracted and missing important information.


Also, if you use a microphone or speakerphone, be aware of its location and surroundings. You want the device close enough that it picks up your voice but far enough that it won't pick up every little sound you make. Additionally, be aware of any electronic devices. These items can cause interference and affect the quality of your call.


Stick to the Agenda


People are busy. They do not have the time to listen to conversations that are not pertinent to their job and the tasks at hand. It is important during a phone meeting to create an agenda and stick to it. Don't waste time discussing the latest basketball game or where you ate lunch. By discussing the current problems and topics at hand, you will receive more participation and more willing participants. Also, do your best to stay within your scheduled timeframe. By extending the meeting, you may also quickly lose participation and attentiveness.


Use Visual Aids When Necessary


Visual aids can help entice participation and encourage discussion among attendees. Visual aids are ideal if you are presenting new ideas or strategies to a large group. They do not need to be used in every phone call, and they can become an annoyance if they are long and provide too much information. However, to use visual aids during a conference call, you will need an Internet connection and web conferencing capabilities.


Keep Notes


Keeping notes is an excellent way to stay focused during a long conference call. Also, if the information being presented is important, you will want to keep notes as a reference. Regardless of whether you take extensive notes or just jot down a few ideas, you should always keep a writing utensil and a notebook next to you during your phone meetings.


Record the Conference Call


Many conference call services allow hosts to record the phone meetings. This can be a valuable tool for several reasons. First, it can allow participants to go back and review the phone discussion and the presented information. Second, if an individual cannot attend the meeting, they can listen to the recording and receive the same information as the individuals who were there. Additionally, a recording is a way to keep track of the meetings and verify what information was discussed and presented.


Become Familiar with the Conference Call Service


Conference call services vary. Each service can offer different features and tools, particularly interactive features such as hand raising, polling, whiteboards and more. Before you begin a conference call, spend some time researching the service and learning its features. Many services allow an operator to sit in on the call to make sure things run smoothly. Also, it is a wise idea to go over certain commands and features at the beginning of a conference call to ensure that everyone on the call can participate.


Keep the Meeting Short


One of the quickest ways to lose participants' focus in a phone meeting is to extend it much longer than is necessary or its scheduled length. By keeping the meeting short and concise, you will have captive participants and individuals who do not dread your meetings.