Running a successful teleconference
Send information in advance. Make clear when and where the meeting will take place and how to ‘dial in’ remotely. Keep in mind people may dial in from another city or country. Send presentations and accompanying information well in advance as telecommuters may be on the move on the meeting day.
Start in time. Telecommuters are stuck listening to music-on-hold for ten minutes, during which they wonder, “Was today the right day? Did I miss the meeting?”
Start with a roll call, instead of asking “who is there” leaving everyone wonder when it is their turn or have everyone speak at once. Just start saying: “Steve, are you there? You hear us fine?” and move on to the next. Do not forget to introduce who’s there at the other end either.
Lead the meeting. A teleconference should be led much more rigorously then a face-to-face meeting. Start with ground rules. Ask people to mute their phone when they don’t speak, not to make noise by moving chairs or rumbling papers and to speak up.
Make room for everyone’s questions and feedback. Telecommuters have no access to your nonverbal cues. Ask telecommuters actively. Not by asking “anyone in the line with questions?”, but by saying “Steve, have question? No? Marie?”
Explain what you do when referring to visuals like a presentation. Distribute the presentation in advance of the meeting. Tell the audience which presentation you use and where you are. Explain what’s on the sheet.
Clearly wrap up the meeting. Prevent people at the other end wondering if the meeting is finished and stay on the line only hearing noises and people talking through each other.