Conference calls remain one of the most popular and most powerful communication tools available, and their place as a staple part of most businesses’ communications has been largely unchallenged. A big part of this is doubtless the ease of accessibility which they provide. You don’t need WiFi, you don’t need a camera or any other specialist technology, you don’t even need to be in any specific location – all you need is a telephone, be it landline or handheld. But what you do need is to avoid common conference call mistakes!
Because of its usefulness and convenience, teleconferences have been firmly established outside of the traditional business setting, too. They have proven to be useful to teachers and tutors, to sportspeople and their coaches, and to music bands and their fans. We know how important communication is, in every facet of life. Even if it’s just keeping in touch with that aunt who moved to Australia or catching up on any family developments before the next big holiday.
That said, for all its benefits there are certain pitfalls that you’ll do well to avoid. We’re still getting used to alternative means of communication, so there are bound to be a few little mistakes here and there. Leave your mute button on? Been there. Forget to send a meeting agenda? Done that. Here are some common conference call mistakes you’ll want to avoid.
Here are the most common mistakes to avoid on a conference call
- Not creating and sharing a detailed agenda.
- Not keeping to the talking points in your agenda.
- Not providing the right details.
- Not sending an email reminder to guests.
- Showing up late.
- Not recording the call or keeping minutes.
- Neglecting to use your mute button.
- Forgetting that you’re on mute.
- Not respecting conference call etiquette.
- Not actioning discussion post-call.
- Not using a free conference call service.
There are your eleven most common conference call mistakes! Now, let’s go into further detail…
Not creating and sharing a detailed agenda
Because voice conferences can feel so much like having a normal conversation, and because they are often scheduled to recur weekly or monthly with the same group, you might feel like being a little spontaneous and try to let the discussion flow naturally. Unfortunately, this would qualify as a key conference call mistake.
Instead, you should always write up a detailed agenda of exactly what you want to discuss and achieve during the teleconference. Try to be specific about in what order topics will come up, and how long should be spent on each. Most importantly: don’t forget to share it around well in advance of the call.
Not keeping to the talking points in your agenda
Alright, you’ve thought through your plan, you’ve even typed it up and, yes, you have sent it around. Sadly, the real challenge doesn’t start until everybody has joined the call. It’s important that you keep a handle on the direction of the call (especially if you have a chatterbox or two). Keep things ticking along as they should, and show participants that you value their time and that you’re capable of keeping control. Otherwise, you won’t achieve the objectives set out in the agenda! You’ll also run over, which you don’t want. That’s why failing to stick to your agenda is a common but lethal conference call mistake.
Not providing the right details
Clearly, this is a pretty infuriating conference call mistake. You’ve agreed a time for a conference call, but you’ve not given your guests the exact details they need! It’s a sadly easy gaff to make. Say, for example, you’re using WHYPAY? – you’ll need to give the dial-in number to call, your room number, and your unique PIN. It’s going to be a lonely call if you don’t…
Not sending an email reminder to guests
People are busy, and emails are abundant. But giving them a polite nudge is not going to irritate anybody. It will simply mean that nobody has to deal with the embarrassment and hassle of having to catch up on everything they may have missed.
In fact, with WHYPAY? you won’t even need to do that. With your free account, WHYPAY? gives you the option to turn on email notifications and use the scheduling feature. That way, WHYPAY? will send out the conference call room number and secure PIN, as well as the dial-in number, to each of your invited participants. There is a calendar attachment on these emails, so that participants can save the call into their own calendars, and set any reminders they deem necessary. Easy!
Showing up late
This is never a good look – especially if you have been reminding your participants of the call. And if (as you definitely should) you have an announcement feature turned on, then there really is nowhere to hide. The conversation will be interrupted mid-flow to let everybody know that you just joined the call. As if that’s not bad enough, people will then have to go back and explain everything you have missed. That’s one sure-fire way to make sure your agenda topples straight away!
Not recording the call or keeping minutes
There was a time, in some far-away, bygone era, when somebody would have to sit with a pen and paper rapidly attempting to transcribe every word uttered during a meeting. Thankfully, such challenging torture is no longer necessary. If you’re hosting a conference call, all you need to do is turn on a call-recording feature. You will have a record of everything that has been said, making minutes infinitely easier.
There are dozens of reasons why conference call recording is so useful, but a key one is that it simply allows you to take notes of the meetings after you have finished, calmly and pausing as often as needed. These notes can then be easily emailed around to all the participants, so they have a handy summary of what has been achieved.
Neglecting to use your mute button
The mute button is there for a very good reason. Don’t neglect it! If somebody in the office is speaking to you, or even typing especially fiercely, not everyone in the call needs to hear it. This magical button can be especially useful to people working remotely and looking after children, or sitting in a café, or those busy jet-setters who might be about to step on a plane. Wherever you are, if it’s noisy and you aren’t actually speaking at that moment in time, hit mute. Everybody will thank you for it.
Forgetting that you’re on mute
A close second in annoyance to total rejection of the mute button is forgetting that you are muted and chattering away, wondering when all your colleagues got to be so rude. Of course, this is irritating (and a little embarrassing) for you. But it is also time-consuming and bothersome for everyone else on the call. When you finally realise why everybody is talking over your great ideas, you’ll have to take the conversation back however far you managed to last unwittingly on mute.
Not respecting conference call etiquette
Between on-call eating, interrupting others, and dialling in from a clearly too-loud location, there’s quite a lot of conference call etiquette that you need to keep in mind. It’s a tricky one because, if you’re calling from your home, there’s already a casual context in place and it can be easy to slip into a false sense of comfort. Respect others, basically! To make sure you don’t slip up, read up on our guide to conference call etiquette.
10. Not actioning discussion post-call
You may have all made some very important points in the call, but you need post-call actions to ensure that things get done. This is where our point on recording the call comes into play. Once the call is done, someone should be elected to gather some action points for going forward. Otherwise, all those great contributions will have been for nothing.
11. Not using a free conference call service
Some people simply recommend using a toll-free number, because expecting your participants to have to pay to attend your voice meeting is just a bit rude.
But why should even the host have to pay to have a telephone meeting?
With the availability of reliable and secure conference calls totally free of charge, like those provided by WHYPAY?, it just doesn’t make sense to still be paying to hold a teleconference. With WHYPAY?, you just need to click onto their homepage and hit the Big Red Button, and your own unique conference call room and secure access PIN will be immediately generated!
Do the right thing with our free conference call services
Now that we’ve helped you avoid embarrassing conference call mistakes, you should go on to do the right thing and join our many happy customers who regularly send in their conference call reviews.
Of course, if our happy customers don’t convince you, take a look at our conference call features to see what you could get. We’re sure to have a plan for free conference calls that works for you and your business.
In the meantime, check out our blog section. It’s regularly updated, and will keep you in the know regarding the world of conference call communications.