12 Conference Call Tips for More Connected and Collaborative Teams

15 July, 2022

A symphony orchestra is a perfect example of a connected and collaborative team at work. Led by a conductor, each player takes cues from the music director through eye contact and hand movements. Yet each musician is also in tune with one another, staying in tempo and playing their instrument to produce one harmonious performance.

Conference calls are like orchestral concerts. A meeting host takes a conductor's baton to ensure that all participants follow the agenda, keep to their allotted time and wait in turn to speak. Unlike orchestras, online meetings remove all physical distances between attendees, enabling anyone from anywhere in the world to attend.

In fact, according to Frost & Sullivan, 93% of business leaders expect a quarter or more of their employees to work from home! Collaborative and conferencing solutions must then be used to bring together distributed teams. In an earlier Frost & Sullivan study, 72% of companies gained a clear competitive advantage through better performance from using such tools.

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CINNOX, an example of a cloud communications and conferencing tool


Now that online meetings are here to stay in this post-pandemic world, here are 12 best practices to get the most out of them for more connected and collaborative teams. These tips apply to both audio and video meetings but Stanford researchers did observe that video introduces extra fatigue. Thus, we recommend audio calls for fewer distractions, the ability to focus on what is being said, and the freedom to move around.


12 best practices for more connected and collaborative teams



1. Appoint a host
2. Choose a solution
3. Share the agenda
4. Rehearse the script
5. Choose a quiet place
6. Get a good connection


7. Start on time
8. Set ground rules
9. Introduce everyone
10. Keep communicating
11. Record the meeting
12. Follow up afterwards


1. Appoint a host

The conductor of an orchestra has the job of keeping everyone in time and together. Equally important is the leader of a conference call who will organise, moderate and guide the online meeting to a conclusion within the time allocated. The organiser is most likely someone who will gain from the meeting or a person appointed to do the job.

Fun fact: the first violinist in an orchestra is also known as the concertmaster and is second in command. Similarly, the conference host can appoint a co-host to act as a backup, monitor the chat window for questions, start/stop the recording and manage the participants. Having a co-host helps the leader to focus on moderating the meeting.

2. Choose a solution

Whether you're talking to 3 colleagues or 300 participants, you'll need conference call tools to host your meeting. Choose from popular apps by Google, Microsoft and Zoom to a dedicated cloud communications platform like CINNOX that offer a telecoms-grade network and multiple points of presence (PoPs) globally for reliability and clarity.

Sometimes the best ideas appear when you least expect them! If you're having a one-to-one call with a team member, for example, and an AHA! moment pops up, you can seize the opportunity and create an instant conference call in CINNOX without hanging up the call. Invitees can include others in your contact list, external contacts or dial phone numbers.

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3. Share the agenda

A productive conference call needs a plan that explains its goal and purpose. Think of the agenda as a conductor's score that describes all the instruments and the order they are played. A good agenda defines the objective of the call, the time allocated for discussion on each topic, and the participants who will lead different parts of the call.

Once you have the flow of the conference call finalised, email the agenda to all the participants beforehand. This serves two purposes: to remind them of the upcoming date and time of the call, and to provide instructions on how to join the conference call via a real-time invite in CINNOX, dial-in phone numbers, SMS or a web link.


4. Rehearse the script

A conductor rehearses with musicians countless times before the big day. Likewise, while a conference call happens in real-time, you can make sure that it runs smoothly by practising without attendees beforehand. A dry run may identify conference call software and hardware issues, and help with smoother transitions between topics.

5. Choose a quiet place

Musicians need a concert hall with good acoustics to hear each other as they perform. As the conference host, pick a similarly quiet place to host the call. You need a place without the distractions of doorbells, construction noise, traffic or small pets and children. Small booths, office pods or dedicated conference rooms are all great options.

6. Get a good connection

Orchestras perform a final dress rehearsal in the same venue as the actual performance. You too should check if there is reliable Wi-Fi and broadband access at the meeting venue, especially if it is a different place from where you have been practising. The Internet connection on the day can make or break an online conference call!

7. Start on time

Orchestra musicians arrive well before the performance time to settle in and tune their instruments. As the meeting host, you should also lead by example and be the first one to start the call, receive participants as they arrive and ensure that your microphone is working. There's nothing worse than having callers arrive at an empty conference.

8. Set ground rules

Etiquette at classical concerts says that attendees should not talk, whisper, sing or hum along. In the same way, participants in a call should mute their microphone if they are not contributing. To help identify who is speaking, people should say their names first. Plus, any diversions from the main topic should be taken offline and addressed later.

9. Introduce everyone

Before a concert begins, the conductor receives applause along with the musicians. Likewise, the key players of the conference call should be introduced in turn. Announce yourself as the person in charge of the conference along with the co-host, if any. You may also introduce important participants along with the rest of the attendees if time allows.

10. Keep communicating

A conductor connects with orchestra musicians through hand gestures and eye contact. While video calls can show similar non-verbal communication, they are not possible with audio calls. Audio meetings thus require people to put in extra effort to narrate or describe what is happening to the rest of the audience. Here are some examples:

  • “Let me share my screen with you to show the sales figures…”
  • “I’m looking for last year’s report about consumer sentiment…”
  • “The vice president will now present next quarter’s strategy…”

If you're hosting a video conference call, your job is a lot easier with screen sharing! This is best for meetings where you are collaborating and editing a document in real-time, communicating a lot of visual or numerical data, or simply demonstrating the features of the software. Pick from audio or video calls to best suit your meeting objectives.

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Remember, if you're using a conferencing platform like CINNOX, you have the flexibility of adding participants during a call whenever they are needed. This way the flow of your conference call is not interrupted as everyone can stay on the same call and not hang up. You can easily invite additional attendees using email, SMS or a dial-out phone number.

For example, let's say you're planning a limited production run for a new clothing collection. Questions arise in the conference call about whether your fabric supplier has enough stock of the one-off material and whether they can supply it at a price that the accountant will approve. You can simply dial your supplier to add him or her to the ongoing discussions.

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11. Record the meeting

Recording a meeting helps attendees and non-attendees catch up in the way orchestras regularly record their performances to provide content for their fans. While you needn't be a fan of conference calls, call recordings remind you of what was said and can be used for auditing and referencing purposes long after the meeting.

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Pro tip
: it is polite to remind attendees that the meeting is being recorded at the start of the conference call. Psychologically speaking, people tend to be on their best behaviour if they know they're being recorded. Plus, this may avoid awkward situations where potentially sensitive commercial information may be accidentally revealed and recorded.

Audio transcription is another time-saving and efficient way of quickly understanding the context of a meeting. Instead of sitting through and skimming through a video recording, you can simply read and search for keywords in a transcript! For the best quality transcript, be sure to follow our 7 Must-Know DO’s and DON’Ts of Audio Transcription.

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12. Follow up afterwards

Just like when the conductor comes out for an encore after the performance, you will need to address the participants again after the conference call has ended. There will inevitably be talking points for further discussion and action. You should list and answer any questions raised, including side topics, in a follow-up email to all the attendees.

In addition, do remember to thank everyone for their attendance, briefly list the talking points, include the links to video and audio recordings, and attach the audio transcript for their convenience. You may need to schedule another conference call—if so, put in the link to the next meeting or just let them know that the conversation is continuing.


You can be a conference call maestro, too

Online meetings are the norm in this post-pandemic world. Businesses benefit from the ROI and convenience of replacing expensive and time-consuming physical meetings with audio and video calls. Choose a conference call app that meets your requirements, then combine it with these 12 meeting tips to hit the high notes for your conference calls every time!

If you're looking to try a cloud-based communications tool with no strings attached (and no credit card required), speak to an expert at CINNOX now.

 

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