Conference calls are an effective communication tool for building team spirit and good "corporate culture." Although the organization benefits from well made conference calls through increased productivity and profitability, the employees benefit too, because it is way more fun to work in a happy, engaged workplace.
That is, if everyone pulls together, and knows how to be a good conference caller. Here are five tips on how to do your part to building team spirit with teleconferencing, and why they are worth doing.
One of the reasons conference calls are so effective is because they respect everyone's time. By eliminating travel time, even when people work in the same building, they save hours and hours of staff time.
You have better things to do than getting to a meeting.
Saving time enables the scheduling of more frequent communication, which is better for everyone, as lack of communication is a huge source of dysfunction in organizations.
For each minute you are late to a call with 15 people on it, you waste 15 "person minutes" of everyone's time. Wasting time is like littering. Once the first person throws one piece of garbage into a public place, everyone does. Don't be that first person!
If you are new to conference calling, show up 10 minutes early, and get a buddy to help you get comfortable with the technology. If you are an old pro, two minutes early is fine, so you can sign in to the Shared Desktop, review the agenda, bring your mind to the meeting, and be ready to go when the clock strikes.
Location, location, location
Another reason conference calls over real phone lines (not Skype or VOIP) are so good is that the excellent audio quality makes it possible for everyone to hear the subtle "body language" cues they need to truly understand each other.
If someone is upset, everyone needs to know it so that they can help. If someone is ecstatic because they just met a big milestone, that excitement in their voice is what you came to hear.
Helping people, celebrating success and sharing good ideas is how you use teleconferencing to build team spirit and boost your bottom line.
Unfortunately, even the background noise from one badly chosen caller's location can throw a monkey wrench into a good conference call. That's why setting yourself up properly makes everything go smoothly.
You need to be in a quiet space, where background noise won't bleed into the call or distract you, and you need a good quality phone, so everyone can hear everything they need to.
If the person who invited you to the conference call didn't really care what you thought of the issue being discussed, they would have cc'd you on a group email.
You are invited to the call because somebody wants your brain. They don’t want half of your brain, while you read some files or send a few emails.
Never multitask on a conference call.
The flip side of this is if you are truly focussed, and you feel you want to make a contribution, Go For It! It is a tragedy when someone stifles a good idea on a conference call.
You were invited to participate, so don't be shy.
When you speak, introduce yourself, so that everyone knows who you are, even if you check in after a minute or two of silence. Hold your phone close to your mouth, or get close to the microphone. Start off with "can everybody hear me?" Speak slowly, and don't worry about being too loud. People can always turn you down, but if you aren't loud enough, you'll waste time.
Once you get through "sound check," express yourself. That's what you are there for. When you take the floor, get your idea across clearly. At the same time, it is good to note when you are doing the majority of talking on a conference call. Talking is fun, but you can have too much of a good thing. Sharing the floor builds team spirit.
Again, if it is your first conference call, get some tech help setting up, and be sure to ask if your phone sounds ok. Can people hear you when you speak? Are you creating echoes? Using a good quality smartphone is fine, but mute any potential alerts.
If you only have a cheap speakerphone, you can listen on it, but only speak into the headset. Use your phone's mute button when you aren't talking, and don't put the call on hold, so you won't be broadcasting Muzak into an important discussion.
"Thank you for calling RamJac Corporation. Due to a high volume of calls..."
Building team spirit
Conference calls are all about building team spirit by sharing important information and making decisions together. Don't be shy, and don't worry about all the little technical details. If you have a good phone and a quiet location, you're winning. The team can help you get your volume levels right.
A famous comedian once said, "90% of life is showing up." Bringing your complete focus and energy to a conference call is the most important way to be a good conference caller.