Tips for a successful conference call

Video Call Facetime

Working from home during the pandemic has changed every aspect of business. However, one of the biggest changes is how we communicate.

There has been a huge shift towards using platforms such as Zoom and Skype that provide digital platforms for internal and external meetings to take place.

However, using technology in place of face-to-face communication isn’t always seamless. With signal dropouts, video confusion and incessant background noise, conference calling can be problematic and may get in the way of important matters.

Sarah Kauter is the Managing Director of Verriberri, an Essex-based marketing firm. Sarah and her team have adjusted to WFH life and have been working from home for the last month. In this feature, Sarah shares her top tips to help your conference calls run smoothly.

Audio Vs Video

This is one of the main factors you need to determine when arranging your call. Things can get a bit awkward if some participants enter the call under the impression the communication would ‘audio only’ and have to unexpectedly come on camera. Of course, trying to maintain a bit of normality and encouraging face-to-face communication can be better for business. Not only does it help to put a face to a name if it’s a call between you and a client, but similarly, when it comes to internal company calls, checking in with a familiar face from your team can often be reassuring during isolation!

Many platforms have the capabilities to accommodate video calling so it’s not always clear whether you should turn your camera on or not. When booking the call, be sure to specify if it is audio or video to make sure you’re all on the same page.

Check your signal

Clear communication in business is key. It can be frustrating when you’re trying to have a conversation with someone and are only able to hear every other word.

If Wi-Fi drops, try removing the video element of the call as this might be slowing things down. Alternatively, if all else fails, you can arrange a callback on your mobile to make sure the call is effective. Merging calls means that all parties can communicate on one line and excludes the use of Wi-Fi.

Minimise background noise

Working from home can bring with it a lot of unexpected background noises. Of course, there may be other people in the house who are getting on with daily tasks, regardless of whether you’re on a call. For example, you don’t usually have to contend with the noise of someone unloading the dishwasher in your office, but this may be the new reality. This can lead to background noise that distracts from the conversation and disrupts the flow.

There are a few things you can do to minimise this. Firstly, set up your office space in a quieter area of the house where you know there will be minimal distraction. Secondly, let everyone know you’re about to go on a call and they are likely to be more cautious. However, if noise is unavoidable remember to simply ‘mute’ yourself on the call when you’re not contributing.

Have a call leader

At times there can be upwards of ten participants on a conference call. This can get quite confusing as people are likely to talk over each other unless you have someone leading th agenda. Assign someone, whether it’s yourself or a colleague, to guide the call with a set plan. This way the conversation will stay on track, there will be a clear direction and you can invite people to speak with questions directly addressing individuals.