Everyone has to start somewhere. And if you need to facilitate a conference call for the first time you are going to be wondering how to run the meeting.
There’s some good news for you.
Conference calls have a number of differences from face to face meetings. However the nature of their agendas is not one of them. At least not at a high level.
Of course, the purpose of the meeting will affect the format to follow for the meeting. A training meeting for example needs a slightly different meeting format than a union negotiation. Despite this there are a number of formats that can be followed in most cases.
Here is one format to follow for a conference call that may help you to keep control and achieve your purpose.
1. Facilitator Introduction.
Remember that the people at the other end of the phone can’t see you so you need to both introduce yourself and call a start to the session. It’s also a good idea to ask people how they are doing.
2. Round the call introductions.
The other people also can’t see the other people. The best way to handle the introductions is for the facilitator to go through the people who are invited, say their names and ask them to introduce themselves and anyone who is with them.
3. Statement of purpose.
Now that we’ve got everyone introduced it’s time to start the meeting. At this point we need to state why we are meeting and what we will be covering in the meeting. This is a good point to set any ground rules for the meeting.
Because you can’t check on the pulse of the meeting visually you need to ask how people are doing. Are they okay with the purpose and agenda? Is there anything that upsets them about the meeting? At this point you need to know how they feel about what is happening.
5. Object inquiry & Evaluation
Once you’ve finished getting emotional feedback you can begin to deal with the agenda objectively. Ask your audience for any changes they would like to make to the purpose, the agenda or the rules. Be sure to get agreement before proceeding.
For each topic on the agenda you should follow the same basic cycle:
1. Introduce the topic. This should include any background information on the topic.
2. Draw out the emotions of each of the participants. How do they feel about the topic or the information they have? A round robin where questions are allowed but not comments is a good way to do this.
3. Ask each of the participants about what they think. Draw out whatever information they have on the topic.
4. Decide on a path forward, make a decision and assign responsibilities.
5. Evaluate how everyone feels the topic was handled. A round robin of “Are you okay with that?” will work well.