That’s how many association conference calls I facilitate in the average year. With that many calls, I want them to be productive time. Here are seven habits that help keep calls that I facilitate more productive:
- Know who’s driving.
So many calls are just adrift, it’s unclear who is charged with facilitating the call and keeping it on track. And remember, the facilitator needs to be prepared—come to the call early and know the agenda well.
- Know the ending.
Before you get into a discussion, know whether the item is informational or if it’s an item for decision. If the latter, make sure you’ve framed the nature of the decision to be reached.
- You don’t need to be right.
These are discussions, not arguments—trying to be the smartest person on the call rarely ends well. Be sure to avoid “argument language” such as “I disagree” or “That’s a bad idea”.
- Use engagement to defuse.
When the call bogs down between two parties, that’s a great time to call on someone who has been quite. Use techniques like polling attendees to engage more people and defuse an argument.
- Posit choices.
Sometimes positioning two extreme choices allows you to narrow down to more reasonable options. The answer is usually a shade of grey—starting by eliminating black and white gets you closer to there.
- Keep it moving.
No one wants to be on the call forever. Respect time frames and move items to future agendas if need be.
At the end of an item, recap the decision, at the end of the call, recap the decisions and action items.
See you on the phone.