The Dos and Don’ts of Teleconferencing: What to Know Before Setting Up Your First Online Meeting

Setting your first teleconference can be a daunting experience for new managers that is almost as nerve-wracking as speaking before a large group of people. Fortunately, a teleconference is between three to ten individuals, and doesn’t involve an auditorium full of strangers. However, setting up a teleconference involves a lot more work than simply turning on your computer and logging on to the necessary connection.

The first thing you must consider is establishing a proper schedule for the call that takes into consideration the time zones of the other parties who will be part of the teleconference. Due to globalization and expansion of companies into new markets, they tend to have off-shored departments that operate at different time zones. Establishing a proper conference call between the parties involved is difficult since an opportune time for one time zone would be unreasonable for another. It is recommended that you examine the different time zones and find a schedule for the call that is within a reasonable time frame wherein the parties involved either have to stay at work a bit longer or arrive much earlier. Attempts at establishing a call during a time frame where one of the participants is supposed to be sleeping is highly inadvisable due to the potential for exhaustion to significantly impact the level of interaction between that party and the other members of the conference call.

Determine Beforehand the Amount of Time to be Allotted per Topic

The advantage of using teleconference services through providers like Blue Jeans is the crisp quality of the call that makes it seem as if the person you’re talking to over the internet is in the room with you. However, one of the problems often encountered with this method of overseas communication is that people tend to overextend when it comes to particular topics or stray from the subject matter that should be discussed. While this wouldn’t necessarily be an issue if the call was between people within the same locality, in the case of international conference calls any wasted time can negatively affect at least one of the parties involved due to the time difference. The more time you waste on over-extending on a particular topic or talking about nonsensical subjects detracts from the amount of time one of the parties has in either going home or getting started on the rest of the work for the day. All teleconference calls require at least some level of moderation to ensure that all the participants stay within the topic to be discussed and allot only a certain amount of time per topic.

Perform Tests Prior to the Day of Testing

You need to make sure that the equipment is working properly either a day before or even a week before the day the teleconference is supposed to start. Nothing is quite as bad as creating a proper schedule, determining the amount of time per topic and practicing what you’re going to say only for the equipment or service to not work at all when the meeting is about to start. To prevent this problem from occurring you need to coordinate with the I.T. departments in the locations you will connect to, contact your service provider to make sure that there will be no service interruptions on that day and do a dry-run teleconference between the different locations. Once you know that everything is working properly and that there are no issues, you can then send the necessary invitations for the teleconference call to the emails of the needed personnel.

Educating the Participants on Your End

Prior to connecting to the teleconference, INC recommends that you educate the other employees on your end of the conference call regarding the type of behavior that is expected of them. While this may seem to be silly, there have been numerous cases where one of the participating parties acted in a manner that is overly friendly, not as professional or used the teleconference in order to communicate their personal grievances regarding particular issues or actions. This sort of behavior is absolutely not necessary in a conference call since it leaves a bad impression, this is especially true if you are the one who is hosting the conference call in the first place. To prevent these issues from happening, HBR stated that you need to inform the participants on your end of the call regarding the type of behavior that is expected of them and the subject matter that is allowed to be brought up. Deviating from this format, such as intentionally bringing up personal grievances or acting in an unprofessional manner, should merit some form of punishment. A conference call can go smoothly or can be rife with all sorts of different issues. The difference between a successful call or an embarrassing experience is taking the necessary precautions beforehand to ensure that there more factors that contribute towards a positive rather than a negative outcome.

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Richard is a full time professional, husband, father and blogger juggling all the responsibilities of life and running a blog. Richard enjoys writing about life and online money matters.

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