Thursday, April 2, 2015

I'm on a Conference Call

The staff at LeaderShape spends a lot of time on conference calls. These calls are a great opportunity for us to build relationships and to prepare for upcoming LeaderShape programs. For some, these calls can feel awkward. And sometimes conference calls are easy targets for jokes. Take this video for example. It is a pretty hilarious take on how challenging a conference call can be.

And still, conference calls can be an advantage to us! They help us connect with each other live and in real-time. We are able to tackle issues in the moment (no waiting on an email chain to reach everyone) and we have a better chance of understanding one another (just hearing the inflection in another’s voice can provide clarity of tone).

So how can we make this sometimes-awkward experience as meaningful and productive as possible?  Here are some practices that we have found contribute to being an outstanding conference call participant.

If you have documents that support the agenda and goals of the call, review them in advance and have them accessible during the call. Not only can this help you to be a positive contributor to the call, it shows respect to the person who has coordinated the call.

It’s also important to think of your own role and responsibilities for the call. Are you a contributor to the call? Are you there to listen and learn? What do you need to think about and do to be ready to participate? 

As soon as you dial in, be ready to attend to what is being said on the phone. This includes the automated greeting and instructions given, should you be using a conference call service. The prompts given before you enter the meeting often contain helpful information, such as how to mute and un-mute your line.

In the video we posted above, there are environmental sounds that become distractions on the call. Do your best to find a space that allows you and everyone else on the call to focus on the discussion, not the barista. If you do find yourself in a place where noise distraction is unavoidable, consider letting folks know up front. If you have to manage the noise, do so quickly and use that mute function.

It’s easy to multi-task while on a conference call. After all, the world loves to multitask in general and, in this situation, no one can actually see what you are you doing. There is a downside to multi-tasking though - and that is having your attention split. By focusing on just one thing, the conference call, you can learn more and you can participate in a meaningful way. It also shows that you respect the people involved in the conversation and are invested in the topic being discussed on the call.

Let’s not contribute to the kind of conference call that was depicted in that video. Instead, let us engage in these calls in such a manner that we are doing good work. 

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