|5 Tricks for Effective Conference Calls
By: Don McLean
A conference call is scheduled to discuss your brand or business. The times comes, you take a seat, dial the number, and stare while speaking at the phone. This is the course of most conference calls, but it does not have to be.
In today’s day and age, sitting down and having a discussion in person is not always an option. With teleconferencing services, WebEx, Skype, and a multitude of other choices, it is far less a priority to have an in-person meeting. Some calls may be more informal than others, but each call should be treated with the same level of detail. Here are five tricks that come from past experiences with a little help from Peter Coughter’s The Art of the Pitch.
Each trick is less of a trick and more of challenge. It is a challenge to rethink the way we as professionals make a conference call. If you have not noticed, the challenges bring along one underlying goal: Treat it like you were there in person. If you would not do it with your client in the room, you should not do it while on the phone with them. What is your biggest hurdle with conference calls?
You do not have to sit down. It is okay to stand and move around. If this is a new business presentation, you should still do the same things as you would do if they were sitting in front of you. However, "moving around" does not mean getting distracted by doing something else.
Have at least one other colleague in the room. When someone else is there, you can look at them and focus this call as if you are having a discussion. This will not only help make the call more comfortable, but it will make it more personal. When you are looking at the phone it is hard to gauge the reactions of the other side unless they specifically say how they are feeling. This other colleague should be able to help provide you with that feedback instantaneously.
Do not mute the phone to talk to others in the room. There is one exception. Only when you truly must discuss something very quickly before mentioning it to a client can you do this. Otherwise, refrain. In my experience the mute button is used by others to question the client or make unnecessary remarks. When you mute the phone in these cases, you miss things. Stay attentive throughout the entire call. Then, have a discussion afterwards to go over next steps.
Dress to impress. For the phone, seriously? Yes. It is important because when you look good and smell good, you feel good. When you feel good, you present even better. When you present better, you win. While your jeans from college might be the most comfy pants in the world, they are not meant for these situations. "Work clothes" do not have to be boring or uncomfortable. Find what works best for you, find a good tailor, and find your way towards that corner office.
Smile. It can be heard in your voice. Next time there is a conference call, record it. Listen back to it for presentation value. How do you and your colleagues sound? You may be surprised by what you hear. Think about where you can inject your smile. When you are presenting over the phone, the pitch and tone of your voice matter more than anything.
Don McLean, MBA is an account supervisor at Airfoil Group, an independent marketing and public relations firm serving tech companies and innovation-centric brands with offices in Detroit, New York and Silicon Valley. Follow Don on twitter at@mclean_don.
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