Teleconferencing has made it easier than ever for people in different locations to collaborate. Whether you’re a freelancer who needs to exchange ideas with a client, a telecommuter who needs to attend a meeting, or a project manager coordinating team members all across the globe. Technology has made distance irrelevant (except for those pesky time zones!). As easy as teleconferencing is, however, there’s an art to making one go smoothly. These tips will help you organise a teleconference that makes the best use of time and resources.
Clarify Your Purpose: Why do you Need a Teleconference?
Teleconferencing can be as simple as reviewing the design of a new brochure or as complex as brainstorming a new social media strategy. Whether it’s a quick hit or an hours-long meeting, the secret is to know exactly what you want to accomplish.
Make Your Agenda
Now that you know what you want to accomplish, how are you going to do it? Determine what you will deal with during the teleconference. Each item on the agenda should take you closer to achieving your goal.
Identify the Participants
Another important step in organizing a successful teleconference is to invite those people who really need to be there…and no one else. A teleconference lacks some of the social cues that are present when everybody is in the same room, so people end up talking over each other, getting distracted by somebody walking into their office, having side conversations, etc. You don’t want to leave out any key stakeholders, but this isn’t the time to invite everyone who’s remotely connected to the topic.
Pick a Date and Time
If possible, try not to get too much input on the schedule – it’s almost impossible to pick a time that’s convenient for everybody. Consider where the participants are located, and pick a time that’s most likely to be convenient for the most people.
When you invite people to a teleconference, it’s crucial to let them know why it’s worth their time. Send out an agenda that includes your purpose statement as well as the names of everyone you’re inviting. Ask participants who are responsible for specific agenda items to come to the meeting prepared to present and answer questions. And fill everyone in on the logistics: Do participants need to call in? Or will someone call them?
Make Sure Your Technology is up to the Task
Skype is one of the easiest tools to use for teleconferencing. Google Hangouts are another. However, there are also services that provide an operator and/or moderator. You might want to consider using one of these services if you’re dealing with executives who are pressed for time, people who are not tech-savvy, or such a large number of people as to be unmanageable without a moderator.
Teleconferencing just may be the best thing that ever happened when it comes to the global economy. It eliminates the time and expense that make meeting in person impractical when you’re working with people who aren’t in the same location. The more you can do to make things run smoothly, the better your chances of getting people to participate in more teleconferences going forward.
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