Host Teleconferences

Teleconferences are a blessing and a curse. Many teams are made up of people in dispersed locations, so phone interaction is a must. Some of us spend many hours each day on teleconferences. We know the usual problems—interrupting beeps, background noise, fuzzy interference, people multitasking, people not paying attention. You cannot fix all of these. There are a few steps you can take to be more effective and minimize some of the pain. If you are the facilitator:

  • Do not interrupt, but be firm with the times and agenda—use verbal pauses to guide the meeting.
  • Have a list of participants’ names in front of you at all times.
  • Send out an agenda and materials in advance, embedded in the invite when possible.
  • Ask in the beginning whether everyone can hear well.
  • If one voice dominates, jump in to balance participation. Solicit others’ feedback.
  • Use technical controls. Know how to mute lines in case of background noise when you cannot get the person to mute.
  • End it and reschedule the call if there are too many technical glitches to result in a productive session.
  • Assume some people will be on the phone only, even if you have a visual component such as Link or Webex. Explain things in ways understandable for those not viewing material on a computer.
  • If you do not know who is speaking, ask.
  • Wrap it up with a quick summary of next steps by person.