At Sideways8, we have an entirely virtual workforce. That means all of our internal meetings and about 85% of our client meetings happen over the phone. After a little more than six years of this I think we have gotten pretty good at having good calls. Here are a few of the things we have learned.
- First, a call is better than a 3-page email, so just have the call. I’m not a fan of unnecessary meetings, but I’m even less of a fan of writing an email that rivals a term paper in length. Sometimes complex issues that might take ten long emails can be solved in a 10-minute conversation. Conversely, if a quick email can communicate it, avoid the call. Everyone values their time.
- Use a good conference call system. I use UberConference Business plan for several reasons.
- I have my own dedicated conference line number with no pin necessary. You just dial the number and are in the call.
- I get a text message when someone hops into the conference call before I do, prompting me to call in early if needed (or if I momentarily forgot about the call).
- It auto-records all calls, so if I have a call while in the car (which happens), I can refer to the recording to take notes if needed.
- You can share your screen or a file with everyone on the call. And anyone in the call can share.
- Have an agenda for the call, preferably one that everyone has seen. This is a habit I haven’t done as much but plan to implement moving forward. An agenda makes sure you stay on track, cover all important topics, and it lets everyone on the call know that what is important to them is going to get covered.
- Make the call the right length. Don’t just schedule a call for an hour or 30 minutes when it might only need to be 10 minutes.
- Find ways to make it fun. No one likes a dull call, especially not one that happens repeatedly. So start your calls with something interesting like asking weekend plans, an interesting story or some other way to connect while waiting for everyone to join the call.
HT: The inspiration for this post came from my friend Jeff here.