What is the first thought that goes through your mind when you have a conference call scheduled? Like many, you may not be looking forward to it. Not only can this take up a lot of your valuable time, but there is a good chance that you won't take anything away from it. We've all suffered through bad connections, talking over each, listening to sirens and dogs in the background, and seeing our coworkers sour faces as they mouth, "What is this person talking about?"
We've all been a part of conference calls that go something like this:
The Wall Street Journal recently wrote the following about them: "The conference call is one of the most familiar rituals of office life—and one of the most hated. Abuses are rife. People on the line interrupt others, zone out or multitask, forgetting to hit "mute" while talking to kids or slurping drinks."
The Journal article also pointed out the difficulty of "building rapport" during these virtual meetings. It's hard to do when you're interacting with a distance voice masked by static.
Conference calls are here to stay
Despite the fact that many people despise conference calls, there is no reason to believe these are going away anytime in the near future. After all, there are benefits such as:
Ability for workers in different locations to connect at the same time
Cut back on business travel, which saves the company money, especially for small businesses working with a limited budget.
Allows for workers on different schedules to communicate without wasting unnecessary time. We've all experienced this: "Bob, are you there?"
According to Wainhouse Research, the amount of time spent in audio conferences in the United States is expected to increase 9.6 percent per year through 2017. In other words, there are a lot of companies who truly believe in the power of the conference call.
Conference call survival tips
If you are one of the people who dread them, here are three tips for surviving a conference call:
Set goals for the call. What are you hoping to accomplish? What are you hoping to learn from others?
Participate. You may not be excited about the conference call, but if you have to attend you might as well participate. Do your best to bring as much value as possible to the call.
Ask questions. If somebody on the call can answer a question, now is the time to ask. Why wait to contact the person at a later date? Getting it out in the open now can save you a lot of time.
Want more conference call tips?
Consider this humorous and useful Slideshare from PGi, a global provider of audio, web and video conferencing: