As I have made a few mentions before in earlier posts, I volunteer my time on a state-wide level for my fraternity. This is my second year and am really getting into the swing of things. As a new initiative for our state, I’m reinstating our regular conference calls. Now, conference calls with 10 or less individuals is not too bad. Its still pretty easy to manage conversations and questions. However, for those of you who are hosting over 10 people on a call, understand that it can get a little crazy, especially if you also wish to field questions. So, I’ve created a list of suggestions to help you with any conference call, especially those large ones.
Utilize Free Conference Call Services
My suggestion is http://www.freeconferencecall.com. you are able to have up to 98 numbers dial in as well as record the call. The dial-in number and access code have the ability to be used for multiple conference calls as well. I would suggest that once a year to re-register to get a new dial-in number and code for security reasons, if you so choose.
Identify a Second (or Third) Host
Ask a fellow participant or officer to take minutes and help monitor the call and questions. This allows the primary host to focus on questions and the conversation, maintaining the conference call and to adhere to the agenda.
Utilize Google Docs
Use Google Docs for creating the agenda and taking minutes. Share this with your conference call participants so they are able to see the agenda in advance, as well as the minutes that are being taken. You are able to manage who can edit the document and allow only the host(s) to edit the document while the rest can view the minutes being take.
Additionally, create a separate Google Doc for questions. Instead of individuals speaking up or interrupting the call, participants can type in their questions and the host(s) can monitor and answer the questions in a more orderly fashion, while also ensuring the meeting is moving forward.
Create a hashtag for participants to use during the call. Encourage them to use it to make comments or ask questions during the call.
Split Your Screens
Split your screens on your computer so that you can watch multiple Google Docs and/or Twitter at the same time. Also if you are fantastic at multitasking, utilize 2 computers/laptops to monitor the conference call. This offers the ability for a host to watch the agenda, watch their co-host take the minutes, and also to monitor questions on the Question Doc and Twitter feed. I suggest one computer per host and split the screen into 2 windows.
Command Your Call
Be firm with the rules you lay down for your conference call. Also, do not be afraid to stop a rouge conversation to get back to the topic at hand. Without being able to easily see your participants it requires a firm voice with authority. ( If you have children, then you already have that voice. If not, I’d suggest babysitting and hone that skill. ) Its is your conference call and as long as you are organized, and prepared it will be in the participants’ best interest to abide by the rules and agenda, and the call will be productive and fruitful.
Just a few suggestions to help make your conference calls more productive and maybe even shorter!
Also, a shout out to my fraternity brother, @mrealm, for his help in trying out some of my new tips and hints with me so I could share them with you!
If you have any other tips or hints, let me know!
Until next time!
Peace, Love and Pandas!