Common Sense – Conference Calls Can be Very Effective, If ...
Rules Are Followed
by Dr John
Hogan, October 11,
A major strength of the hospitality industry is the
hosting of face-to-face interaction at our hotels and other meeting
both for our guests and within our own organization. Those
personal interactions allow for better
communication and often team building in tackling challenges and
There are times when meetings are not convenient
(telecommuting staff, emergencies, excessive travel time or cost), but
communications are more effective than emails, intranet postings or
Conference Calls can be very effective, if ... some
fundamental rules are followed:
If you are the leader in using conference calls,
consider the following questions:
you really need a conference call? There are times when
several short one-on-one phone conversations
with a few people would be more efficient.
you send out an agenda prior to the call, by email or company intranet
Agendas keep everyone focused. It should include no more than 8-10
points of exactly what is to be discussed and specifically what should
accomplished as direction and outcome from meeting. The conference call
must send out all important conference call information in advance,
the dial-in number and passwords. If
this is a follow-up call where associates on the call will be
providing updates on assigned deliverables, the agenda
should state which of these updates are to be included in the advance
communication as well.
much time is needed, or do you really require an hour for your
Online calendars block time into ¼-hour time slots for a reason.
If there are
30 minutes of issues to discuss, schedule it for 30 minutes. The
chances are you will be focused more on
the important items on the agenda in order to accomplish what you need
to the time allotted.
Specific Actions to remember for facilitators:
on time. The facilitator must start the meeting on time and lead the
introductions with a roll call, which should include each conference
participant's name, job title, and location.
A tip - both facilitators and
participants should smile while speaking to spread enthusiasm and
off call waiting. No one wants to hear
the distracting beep of the call waiting function.
the right equipment. Speakerphones have
a tendency to pick up background noises and this is especially true in
office area with multiple cubicles. If you must use a speakerphone
there are multiple participants at the same location, it is usually
use the mute function until it is your turn to speak, so that everyone
call can hear him/herself clearly.
a quiet space or room. Avoid the
distractions of external interruptions, when possible.
cell phones if possible. While cell
phones may seem to be more convenient, they can pick up static or
be dropped during the call. If there is only a single participant at a
location, the best phone to use during a conference call is a landline
with a headset.
the group on track . There may be some
benefit in allowing some "catch-up time" but only prior to the
scheduled start time of the confrenece call. It is important to set the
and pace for the meeting ahead. If you are facilitating the call,
it is your responsibility to keep the group on topic and focus.
your call up with a summary email, listing action items and delivery
dates. Accountability is essential after
all meetings, including conference call meetings. Nothing keeps
people on assignment and
focused more than the expectation and knowledge that they will be held
accountable for commitments on future calls.
Taking a few minutes to review who is doing what and by when is
Other considerations to make conference calls
interrupt. Since there are not visual
reminders during an audio conference call, participants should wait
last speaker is finished before speaking. Conference call participants
also remember to introduce themselves before they address the others on
call, unless all parties know each other's voices well. It is the
role to discourage interruptions or to redirect the call back on topic,
conversation goes off on a tangent.
do distracting activities. Conference
call participants should remember that many speakerphones pick up
typing on the
keyboard, paper shuffling, pencil tapping, and chair squeaks. As
earlier, muting the call is a good practice when others are speaking.
put the call on hold. If a conference
call is placed on hold, "hold" music will begin and distract the
entire meeting, or another employee can pick up the held call, which
further interrupt the meeting and jostle everyone's focus.
the conference call. When the call is
ready to end, the facilitator should clearly state the meeting has
and add a single closing comment.
Facilitators should also be the last one to hang up, so that there is
additional time billed from the hosting service.
These are common sense tips, but many conference
call participants can forget how to use them because conference calls
without visual cues. If there are new employees without conference call
experience, the facilitator may want to share an etiquette tip sheet,
such information as in this column, to help new participants learn
make a mistake during an important conference call.
Conference calls have their place when used
effectively, because they can be scheduled quickly, minimize costs and
people together for an appropriate reason. If courtesy and etiquette
observed, these meetings can be successful, everyone can be heard, and
participants will be encouraged to share ideas and input.
amusing example of how many conference calls have gone awry, view
Keys to Success Hospitality Tip of the Week:
“Manage Systems. Lead People. Coach Your Team.”
John Hogan, Hotel Common Sense Philosophy #13
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of common sense.
Hogan is a successful hospitality executive, educator, author and
and is a frequent keynote speaker and seminar leader at many
industry events. He is Co-Founder of a consortium (www.HospitalityEducators.com)
of successful corporate and academic mentors delivering focused and
counsel in solving specific challenges facing the hospitality industry.
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