Thursday, October 18, 2007

5 Reasons To Love Conference Calls

I read a lot of negative reactions to conference calls each week, usually because the call rambles on or the topic is boring or participants' dogs/children/co-workers are yapping in the background. I think this communication tool deserves a lot more credit, and here are a few reasons why:

1. They're shorter than "real" meetings.
There's only so long a conference call can go on. Even at low rates, the host is usually aware of how much money is ticking away every minute. Even with compelling topics, there's only so much information that one speaker can recite at one time. And even with a lot of people participating, the "Hey, how's it going?" part of the call doesn't include catered luncheons, coffee breaks, fighting for parking, and all the other things that add time to in-person meetings.

2. They're much easier to "read" than email.
All the emoticons in the world can't populate the emotionally blank world of email. It's certainly possible to convey emotions and undertones in writing, but who has time to do that for every email? Phone time is a great way to figure out if that brief email from your remote team lead was because he's miffed at you or because he was rushed.

3. They're much cheaper than "real" meetings.
Cost savings aren't always a reason to go virtual, but conference calls save everyone involved some significant cash. No airfare, no hotels, no happy hours, no weird group tours.... I don't recommend replacing all of your meetings with conference calls, of course, since social experiences are just as important to business as number crunching, but for really big groups (shareholder calls) and repetitive meetings, conference calls are a great option.

4. They're easy to schedule.
Because your participants don't even need to be in the office to participate, conference calls are much easier to schedule than in-person meetings. This can shorten your sales cycle and boost productivity by reducing time bloat. Why wait three weeks to meet when you can set up a conference call on the fly?

5. They work well with "real" meetings.
So your team is split between Los Angeles, London, and New York? No problem - hold the meeting in one location and connect to the other teams with a speakerphone conference call. You'll have to make sure that your off-site groups are included and that you've distributed any necessary visuals beforehand so that everyone can follow along. Everyone can hear and be heard simultaneously - just make sure your speakerphones are up to the task and you've eliminated as much background noise as possible.

Have I won you over yet? I love big get-togethers, but conference calls offer a lot of benefits that are too good to be ignored. Why do you love conference calls? Leave a comment and let me know.

1 comment:

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