Tips for managing those crazy group calls

Have a structured agenda sent out ahead of time and review at the start of the call.

  • Encourage full participation.
  • Consider asking one of the participants to act as a facilitator to ensure everyone has an opportunity to contribute. For large groups, assign other roles: note taker, time keeper, etc.
  • Have checkpoints where the leader or facilitator draws people into the discussion.
  • If there is anyone who is not participating, explicitly request their input.
  • Limit interruptions and digressions.
  • Don’t let one or two people dominate.
  • Make sure that everyone on the line can hear everything being said. If you experience technical difficulty use the conference call services of a telephone provider to act as host.
  • Disseminate lengthy or complex information in text format before the call starts. If new documents are generated during the call, distribute them as quickly as possible via fax or email.
  • Speak clearly—don’t shout (especially on a speakerphone) and avoid slang that may not be familiar to call participants from other regions, cultures, or countries.
  • When you jump into the conversation, preface your statement with “This is ____” (your name).
  • Don’t try to do anything else while on the call. Other participants can hear you typing and won’t appreciate it. If you must attend to something else briefly, use your “mute” button or put the call on hold.
  • Wrap the call, as you would any meeting. Summarize what was said, confirm decisions and reiterate action steps. Distribute notes immediately via email and follow up on the action steps