Back to Blog
Collaboration and Communication
Conference Calls. Just reading those words gives most of us the chills. Without a doubt, a host of negative feelings just crossed through your mind. Frustration. Misunderstandings. Boredom. And perhaps worst of all: "Can you hear me now?"
If Dante rewrote the inferno, I’m pretty sure the first circle would be conference calls.
- Umair Haque
This hilarious video sums up how most of us feel about conference calls:
Yet despite the pain they cause, conference calls are also an inescapable part of the modern work routine. Given this reality, it's important to ask ourselves "what can we do to make conference calls work just a bit better?"
According to Lisette Sutherland, online collaborative community specialist and author of the upcoming book Collaboration Superpowers, one of the first things you can do to drastically improve your conference calls is to turn on the video cameras. According to Lisette:
Many people resist using video, but we’re simply more engaged and communicate better when we can see body language and gestures.
Most of us have heard the claim that 93% of communication is nonverbal. Whether or not it's true, the more you participate in audio-only conference calls, the more Lisette's "video first" recommendation will resonate with you.
But what if your company already uses video conferencing and yet you still feel the pain of virtual conversation? What else can you do?
As with most complex problems, there's frustratingly no silver bullet. Yet most teams suffer from the same set of common problems on most calls. What's a conference caller to do?
Perhaps the best way to improve the quality of your conference calls is to get some quick wins. With that in mind, Lisette has compiled a list of common problems and their solutions that are well worth your time to read through and internalize.
If you find it useful, you might even want to print it out, laminate it, and stick it on your conference table as a handy "cheat sheet" when things go bad. And they will go bad!
So without further delay, here's Lisette's list of conference call problems and their solutions.
Too much background noise
People who take over the conversation
People who are unprepared and/or late
Meeting goes in too many directions
Time zone issues
We'd like to thank Lisette for the rights to reproduce this list on our blog. Please check out her upcoming book Collaboration Superpowers. It's filled with fascinating stories of remote teams doing great things.