Re-Post: Some Notes on Conference Calls

Originally Written: SEPTEMBER 24, 2016

We have conference calls once a week. They are a good time to check Twitter, Facebook, tinder, back to Twitter, back to Facebook, play solitaire, text people, watch a Youtube video with no sound... You get it. Every once in a while there is a piece of important information that I write down but if I don't a thorough set of notes will show up in my e-mail an hour or so later making any notes unnecessary.

Sometimes my boss just drones on for minutes about how we are failing to "Set ourselves up for success," or ask "What plans do you have for Saturday's event," followed by 35 seconds of silence before someone chimes in with blather about "making it fun," or "putting up streamers." Generally boring shit. Genuine but boring. So, as someone who has listened in on hundreds of monotonous conference calls and wasted hundreds of hours, here are some ideas to mix it up and keep people engaged.

1. Take role quickly but if someone is not there don't take time to find them. They knew about the call and if they miss the information that is on them. Don't waste the groups time finding people who aren't there. They may jump on later or they have better things to do. If you are concerned call them to follow up after the call.

2. Have a goal. Retail is fast paced and there is a lot to do. A conference call should be important and for a purpose. If it can be sent in an e-mail then send it in an e-mail.

3. Set a time limit and stick to it. Let the group know how long to expect the call to go beforehand and if you say it will take half an hour then make sure to get what you need done in that time.

4. Encourage participation and not from the same 4 people. Everyone's perspective can be instructive to the group and a chance to learn. Call on people to talk. Switch up presenters if they are a regular part of the call.

5. Ask questions that facilitate conversations such as:
-"What are your focused goals this week ...insert name here..."
-"How can we maximize customer satisfaction?"
-"Do you think that ...insert practice here... is working? Why or why not?"

6. Call it off sometimes if there isn't anything important that requires a group discussion. Or because people are busy or just because you want to give them a little extra time to focus on other important activities.

7. Sometimes, instead of the call make individual appointments in person or on the phone to discuss important matters or just to congratulate a job well done.

8. Follow up with people on a one on one basis to check for comprehension and general effectiveness of the call. Was it helpful? Did they get something out of it?

9.  Be positive and uplifting. Compliment successful results and actions. Thank people regularly. Remember this isn't life or death and everyone wants to succeed.