The advancements in mobile technology mean that we are able to do more intangibly—in fact, we can pretty much do anything virtually, including having meetings. While physical meetings are hands-down a better experience for most, the conference call has a big place in the working week for many of us.
So why do we loathe them?
First off, there is getting in to the meeting in the first place—that can be a nightmare, unless you have a one-touch conference call app such as MobileDay. Then you have to sit there and wait while everybody else has problems dialing in, so that’s another waste of your time.
When everyone finally makes it into the meeting, nobody talks—because it’s awkward—and then everybody talks at once—which is even more awkward.
Ultimately, you end up getting bored/frustrated/annoyed with trying to work out what people are saying, and you start multi-tasking while you are on the call. Humans are rubbish at multi-tasking effectively, which means that you just checked out of the conversation for the most part.
Conference calls: Can’t stand them. Can’t live without them.
Tips for making your conference call more productive:
1. Practice using the designated software.
Because it always goes wrong the first time. Set up a practice conference call so that you are familiar with how the software works, and what it requires of you. The good news is that you won’t struggle to get into the actual call when it comes around. The bad news is that you still have to sit and wait while everyone else figures it out.
2. Use a headset.
If you are alone in the office or you’re working from home, it can be tempting to not bother with a headset or earbuds. Trouble is, that even a silent room seems to create background noise. Then there is always the embarrassing moment when your cat jumps onto your lap and you spill your coffee with a shriek.
3. Get your headset and audio sorted ahead of time.
Ever gotten into a conference bridge, only to find that you have no voice when you try and talk? Or that you cannot hear anyone else? Before each call, check your computer or phone’s audio setup, and make sure that your headphones are working.
4. Mute when not talking.
Use the mute option when you are not talking. Not only does this reduce the background noise for everyone who is in the meeting, but it means that you have to think twice before you speak, and there is that additional filter of having to un-click the mute button. It’ll stop you from saying things that are not entirely relevant.
5. Close all non-relevant tabs and open browsers.
This is by far the hardest, and the best piece of advice for a productive conference call. It takes a very strong willed person not to check emails while at a computer or get distracted by something else online. We all do it, and we’ve all done it, but we can probably all admit that looking at things that are not directly related to the conference call we are on is like jumping into a black abyss of unproductively.