Tips To Host A Successful Teleconference
The continuous expansion of the telecommunications sector all over the world, has led to the development of some remarkable technologies. One of the more economical and therefore, more prevalent technologies, is Telephone Conferencing.
Teleconferencing allows multiple users to connect through a specific phone number to a common ‘meeting room.’ This meeting room allows the participants to hear and be heard by each member of the group, without having to leave the comfort of their respective offices.
This inexpensive method of communication has reduced office budgets everywhere. Corporate representatives no longer have to book expensive airline tickets and accommodations for a two or three hour meeting. Factor in the cost of meals and transportation and the bills could sometimes be astronomical.
When teleconferencing was an emerging technology it was very difficult to effectively participate in these chaotic meetings. People would unintentionally interrupt each other, some phone lines had delays and people became confused as to when it was their turn to speak.
There are two easy preliminary steps that a facilitator can take to ensure a successful teleconference.
The first is to select a moderator for the teleconference. The moderator is responsible for maintaining clear communication by directing each speaker as to when it is their turn to speak. The moderator is typically the person who is delivering the main point of the meeting and decides on the subject. The date and time of the meeting are usually decided upon by the moderator as well. It is the responsibility of the moderator to ensure that all participants can attend the specified time.
The second step is to select a topic and agenda in advance of the meeting and ensure each member of the teleconference receives a copy. The agenda is set forth by and adhered to by the moderator. If any participants in the meeting have issues with the agenda, they should contact the moderator and requests changes. Once the meeting begins however, the moderator should strive to always direct the meeting according to the agenda.
On the day of the meeting of the teleconference there are some additional steps that the moderator can take to ensure a successful teleconference meeting.
The moderator should arrive at the conference location at least one half hour in advance of the meeting. At that time each participant’s phone should be dialed to test the connections. If any concerns arise from the tests, they can be dealt with before the meeting actually begins.
At the start of the meeting it is usually suggested that the moderator welcome and introduce each participant in turn. This is an especially effective method of introducing unknown parties and also an excellent time to review the agenda. Once the group is clear on the outlined progression of the meeting, the moderator can begin introducing the first participant to speak.
Another strategy for moderators is to bring a stopwatch to each meeting. Time each participant to ensure that they are following the agenda, but also try to remain flexible. Some discussions can result in incredibly positive brainstorming sessions and these should me allowed some leeway. Once you realize the ‘flow’ is going off on a tangent, redirect the meeting back to the next topic on the agenda.
Time and practice are the only true methods of becoming an excellent moderator and hosting successful meetings. If you incorporate the tips listed above, you will have a much better outcome to your teleconference.
When all else fails, remember etiquette. One person speaks at a time with no interruptions. Once each person has spoken the moderator can offer a summation and close the meeting.