How to Conduct Conference Calls that Build Rapport and Connections
With business communications reaching far beyond state and country boundaries, virtual meetings are a must to connect with coworkers, clients, and key stakeholders. Despite the growing frequency of virtual meetings and conference calls, their effectiveness is quite dismal. Recent surveys have revealed that over 70% of conference call participants admit to multi-tasking during conference calls, leading to a lack of participation and a high likelihood that key information is missed or not heard.
Engaging your audience, in a virtual setting, will be challenging, unless you can speak in a lively manner and build rapport quickly. Our communication coaching experts have compiled the top five conference call best practices to weave into your next virtual meeting, for optimal results.
- Don’t skip introductions. Avoid assuming that your audience recognizes your voice. Instead, take the first few minutes of the call to introduce all speakers, including their names, their titles, and locations. If it is manageable, consider having your audience do the same. As they do so, take notes on their names and locations. As part of effective communication skills training, Speakeasy communication consultants recommend engaging your audience by using their names throughout the meeting to solicit their feedback/opinions.
- Enunciate your words. You may have a riveting message to share, but if your audience cannot understand what you are saying – the message will fall on deaf ears. Open your mouth and fully own the words you say. In our communication skills courses, we often advise our clients to speak slightly slower than their normal verbal gait, so your audience can better understand what is being said. Make your statements sound definite – ending on a downward inflection, not an upward question mark.
- Pause for understanding. Taking strategic pauses during virtual communication is even more important than in face-to-face communication. Why? Pausing gives your listeners the moment to catch up and process what has been said. Plus, it gives you, as the speaker, the opportunity to breathe and collect your thoughts.
- Use body language. Communication consultants suggest moving your hands, making gestures, and smiling when you are speaking, even if your audience cannot see you. This non-verbal communication is a powerful tool to make your virtual communication lively and more conversational.
- Take turns – don’t interrupt. Virtual communications that are conversational tend to be more effective in keeping the audience’s attention. However, the structure of virtual communication is essential to keeping order and avoiding interruptions. If more than one speaker will be on the call, be sure to clearly announce when it is time for the next person to speak, and encourage others to listen first, then speak – without jumping in, setting the example yourself. Business communication skills training courses, like Speakeasy’s How You Say It series believes that it works best to have the leader of the meeting call on participants, by name, to manage audience input.
Before closing the conference call, you should summarize what was discussed and review any assignments or expectations. Be sure to bring every meeting to an appropriate close, and end on a positive note.
Following these Speakeasy conference call tools can go a long way into helping you use virtual communication effectively. With practice and guidance, your communication skills will naturally improve, enabling you to unlock the master communicator within you. Since communication is rooted in sharing and collaborating, we invite you to connect with us on LinkedIn. We’d love to hear additional virtual communication strategies you have used to increase your conference call effectiveness.