How to manage telephone conferences - Part 1

Working on project means exchanging ideas, hopefully in a common language. Doing it in written form leaves in many cases space for misinterpretations due to different levels of being able to bring thoughts to (digital) paper. A cost-intensive way of reducing misunderstandings and achieving consensus  is a physical meeting but there are alternatives. The substitution of travelling by telco conferences is in many cases a suitable way. However, there are some issues you need to take into account:

Part 1 – How to plan and set up a telco

The problems arising at this level could have a deep impact, but most of them are easily to avoid.

  • Ensure that all participants of the telco session can deal with the same technical protocol. Many companies do not allow Skype or other messaging applications for security reasons. Make sure that you know in advance which protocol can be used and do not try to bridge different systems manually – you will fail when not having tested it.
  • Find a host. Many companies have their own telco system with local dial-in-numbers. This is very convenient, especially when your phone is not allowed to dial to foreign countries. In case that you are the coordinator of the call / project, you will have the task to offer the bridge for the consortium and you will basically  have two choices:
  1. Go for a global player who offers local dial-in numbers.
  2. Go for the cheaper solution, which means that there is only one number for all participants regardless from where they dial-in. This means  that others will have to pay a bigger part of the overall-bill.

Given you want to be a professional – go for option one and buy the convenient solution.

  • Do not schedule your travel to telco slots. It might save some time for you doing it in parallel but announcements on airports and railway stations might disturb the flow of the discussion. An additional problem arises when losing connectivity. After several announcements of the telco system that a user has left and re-entered the telco, the sympathy of the participants to you will define a new global minimum. This also applies to dialling-in while driving in a car. It is in many countries against the law and the probability of being involved into an accident increases significantly.
  • Circulate the agenda and access credentials. Well, you have scheduled a Telco and that implies that some things have to be discussed. Try to organize all the topics that need to be discussed in a logical and reasonable order. Professionals try to resolve easy problems first for having enough time for critical issues. In the case that not all problems have been solved in time and only a few people are concerned with it, others should  have the freedom to leave the telco. This option will increase the popularity of the telco chair significantly. ;-)

Well so long and stay tuned for the second part on “How to manage telephone conferences”. We will especially deal with the code of conduct in this upcoming article.

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