Virtual teams target training

First aid tips and tricks for sickly teleconferences

I’m going to give you a few quick and easy tips and tricks to make your teleconferences better. Why am I going to do this? You know why. Many teleconferences are horribly ineffective and waste a lot of valuable time. I have sat through hundreds of telecons, and have trained hundreds of other people who have sat through hundreds of teleconferences.

Three complaints I have heard time and time again are:




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  1. There’s a weird atmosphere on the call because there is too much silence.

  2. I can’t understand certain people when they talk.

  3. Our teleconferences are “always” a waste of time.

So, if you can give me a few minutes by reading on, I will try to give you some quick and easy ways to overcome these issues.

Silence is deadly…and uncomfortable

Silence can kill…a teleconference that is. If you are on a call, show some life and participate. Here are a few things you can try on your next call:

  • Give verbal feedback throughout the call. Simple sounds and phrases can really help the flow and atmosphere of a call. “Uh huh”, “I agree” and “Nice work Tom” are a few examples that can be used.
  • When you go through the agenda before the call, try to have at least one thing to contribute for each point. This way, you will be prepared to break the silence and look smart at the same time!
  • Don’t be afraid to express your opinion or give someone positive feedback. Not only does this help fill silence, but it can also build rapport (agreement) or generate some healthy discussion (disagreement).

What did he say?

It can be very difficult to understand some people on the telephone, and especially in teleconferences. This can be due to language issues, accents, the volume of a person’s voice, their phone habits, etc. The next time you don’t fully get something someone says on a call, try these:

  • Make sure you actually say something to them about it. Many times we don’t understand someone but don’t say anything because it is easier. Politely ask them to repeat themselves. Most of the time people don’t realize they are hard to understand.
  • Confirm understanding when you are not sure. Use phrases like “If I understand you correctly, you are saying…” and “Just to make sure I understand correctly, did you say…” This can be a more diplomatic way of telling someone they are hard to understand, and is especially helpful if you have asked them to repeat themselves a lot on a call.
  • Contact someone personally after the call. If you are having trouble understanding someone on a consistent basis, try calling them or emailing them after a call to politely bring this to their attention. You have to be careful how you do this, but many people will appreciate knowing that they should change the way they speak so people can better understand them.

These calls are a waste of my time

Most teleconferences run too looooooong. Here are a few things to do to save everyone some time:

  • Get feedback from the participants. First, assess if this is a common opinion by asking for feedback from the participants. Ask everyone what they think is causing the calls to run too long. Then, using the feedback, try to get rid of those ‘time wasters’.
  • Make some calls optional if possible. Give people a chance to opt out of certain calls. Then they can choose to use their time the way they want. Just make sure to take clear and concise minutes so that anyone who misses a call has the important information discussed.
  • If you usually have 30 minute calls each week, try doing the same thing in 20 minutes. If you usually have 60 minute calls, try doing them in 40 minutes. You will be surprised how much you can accomplish in less time if you focus on doing so. Remember, it is the moderator’s responsibility to keep things within the timeframe. With that said, some of the most successful teams I’ve worked with have had a designated “time watcher” that can help remind the moderator when time is running out.

These suggestions can turn your sickly teleconferences into the most productive time of the week!

Ok, just joking; but at least you can make them a bit better. If you are interested in more ways to make your teleconference better, download our ‘Sweet sixteen – quick and easy steps to better teleconferences’.

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