With this past weekend being Father’s Day, it got me thinking a lot about my dad and everything he taught me. While I didn’t always appreciate his life lessons at the time, now, I’m grateful for them. I’ve found that many of them translate well over to the business world, and even conference calls, where it seems I spend a majority of my time.
1. Always be prepared for your conference call
Whether I was I about to take a math final or was starting a new job, my dad always asked, “Are you prepared?” At the time, I resented him for constantly asking me the same question day in and day out. Now, however, I’m glad he did, as that question is now engrained in my mind. Before any meeting, event or presentation, I always ask myself “Am I prepared?”.
There’s nothing more frustrating than logging into a meeting where participants or even the organizer isn’t prepared. You’re wasting not just your time, but also everyone else’s by scrambling to set up the technology or email last minute documents. No matter the size or purpose of the meeting, always be prepared. Put together an agenda outlining what needs to be accomplished during the call. Also, make sure participants have the correct dial-in information and are familiar with the technology.
2. First impressions matter in Conferencing
This advice is nothing new, but always important to remember, especially when you have remote meetings. Because you aren’t sitting across the table from your attendees, you have to take the extra steps to ensure you communicate clearly and keep your meeting on track.
If you add video to your meeting, your appearance becomes another aspect to consider. Too often, people make the mistake of thinking that just because they’re using a webcam, it doesn’t matter what they look like. News flash – it does! Video quality has greatly improved over the last few years, so everyone can clearly see what you look like and what you’re wearing. Just because you’re not in the same room as your co-worker or prospect doesn’t mean they can’t tell you still have bed head. And pay attention to the background in your camera’s field. A cluttered, messy desk or bright window that puts you in shadows are not the best impressions to provide. Also make sure you aren’t getting the uptilted, massive chin from the angle of your camera.
How you present yourself on the phone or on camera will dictate the tone of both the meeting and what the people on the other end think about you and your business.
3. Listen first
My dad was always a great listener. He knew when to speak up and when to let others have the floor. While naturally I tend to be a talker, I’ve learned to make a conscious effort to do my fair share of listening—no matter who I’m talking with or what we’re talking about.
There’s no quicker way to lose someone’s interest than failing to engage them in the conversation. Even if you’re the meeting organizer, stop yourself from doing all of the talking. Be sure to ask questions and actually listen to their responses before jumping in. Doing this is especially important when on a conference call. With the inability to read a person’s body language, the only way to really understand someone’s feelings on a topic is to ask and listen.
4. Conference call success is up to you
At the end of the day or just the end of the meeting, whether your conference call is productive or not is ultimately up to you. You choose how to prepare for the meeting, who to invite and how to delegate the talking points on the agenda. There are not enough hours in the business day to spend on ineffective conference calls, so do everyone a favor, including yourself, and take the necessary steps to ensure you have a productive meeting.
Are there other lessons your dad taught you that have translated over to your career? Let us know in the comments below!
Oh, and Happy Father’s Day, Dad!