SumTotal Blog

Dreaded Conference Calls

Have you ever had one of those days where you go from conference call to conference call? I’m sure you have. You might even be reading this blog post while on a conference call. This is the virtual world we live in. This is how we conduct meetings, make important decisions and reach our goals. But I wouldn’t be the first person to say that sometimes conference calls are pretty painful, with lost connections, late arrivals and people talking over each other. By the end of it, your brain is frazzled and you become overwhelmed trying to remember what was discussed, what you were assigned and how you’re going to get everything done.

We’ve all been there.

The other day I stumbled upon one of the best YouTube videos of all time. It’s a comedy sketch by Tripp and Tyler in which they act out a conference call in real life. If you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend you carving out a few minutes to do so right now. 

After I was done beating myself up about not thinking of this idea first, I started to realize that this is one of the best examples I’ve ever seen illustrating the way we work. We waste time on conference calls because we’re not devoting our attention to the conversation at hand. What’s interesting to me is that we have control over the entire situation, and yet we do nothing about it.

I can’t help to think of the things we could achieve and the time we could save if we devoted a little energy to making conference calls productive. Being the avid list maker that I am, I went ahead and wrote down my personal list of things I need to start doing and wanted to share my recommendations.

  • Stay on topic – Be sure to set the meeting agenda ahead of time. At the beginning of the meeting, remind people of the purpose and give people a minute to comment on the agenda and then start the meeting. A well run meeting needs facilitation. You need to keep the meeting flowing and on point. Allow everyone to take part and share their opinions and concerns.
  • Stop the multitasking – This has to be the #1 killer of productive conference calls. Can we all commit to not reading email, playing Candy Crush or thinking about the million other things we need to get done? We’re busy people and urgent emails and interruptions happen, but you’re not giving either situation the attention it deserves when you’re doing two things at once. Focusing on the discussion at hand will not only lead to more productive conferences calls, it will probably result in fewer of them!
  • Stop interrupting people – Let people finish what they’re saying. As a perpetual interrupter, I have to constantly remind myself to let people speak. I just get so excited about an idea and I start blurting things out. It’s confusing for everyone. I now make a conscious effort to write down my thought and repeat it when I have people’s attention.

Hopefully these tips will help you remember how important it is to keep your workforce productive, well-informed and focused on making the work happen at work, even as the dreaded conference call beckons.

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