Conference calls may not be particularly fun, but they are an important part of doing business. Whether you need to connect with your staff to discuss the launch of a new product, discuss important information with clients and stakeholders, or host a training session, a conference call is an efficient way to get the job done.
For people who are new to conference calling, though, the thought of setting up a call can be a bit overwhelming. Rest assured, though, that even if you are a complete beginner, it is actually quite simple. Keep reading to learn more about how to set up a conference call.
Step 1: Set Up a Conference Calling Account
If you don’t already have one, you will need to set up a conference calling account. There are all sorts of options out there. Do some research to find one that fits your budget and offers the features you need. Many conference calling services offer free trials or even free limited subscriptions. If you aren’t sure what you need, using a free trial or limited subscription is a good way to try before you buy.
Step 2: Choose Dial-In Numbers for Attendees
In many instances, you can choose what number people will need to dial when calling into your conference call. When choosing one, first determine whether you are hosting a toll or a toll-free call. If you use a toll conference dial-in number, people who call in pay need to pay long-distance charges. If, however, they have an unlimited or free long-distance plan with their phone company, however, they’ll be able to call in at no additional cost.
Using a toll-free number means attendees can call in from anywhere without paying long-distance charges. It’s important to note, though, that the host of the call is responsible for covering the cost of the call. If you are hosting a large conference call, this can get pricy. Ultimately, the decision comes down to how much money you want to spend on the conference and how you prefer your attendees connect.
Step 3: Decide on a Date and Time
Figure out when you want the conference call to take place. With most conference call services, you can set up a call at any time. This means that you don’t have to worry about scheduling in advance. Planning ahead is more convenient for your attendees, though, so keep that in mind. Scheduling a conference call a few days in advance gives everyone time to prepare and set aside time in their busy schedules.
After deciding on a date and time, it’s a good time to come up with an agenda for your meeting. Creating an agenda ensures that everything goes smoothly and typically results in a more efficient and productive conference call. There are templates out there that will help you write an agenda, but you can also create one from scratch. Whichever option you choose, be sure to include the topics you will be discussing, how much time you will spend talking about each topic, and roughly how long the entire meeting will last.
Step 4: Distribute Relevant Information to Attendees
In order to attend your conference call, attendees with need your dial-in number, a unique conference code, and the date and time at which they should call in. This information should be sent out a few days in advance, when possible, to ensure that everyone knows where and when to call.
There are several ways to share your dial-in number, conference code, and the date and time of the call. You can copy and paste it to send via email or instant message. You can also send out calendar invites using Google Calendar or another service. Go with whatever option works best for you and your attendees.
Send out your agenda, too. Make sure it includes the topics you plan on addressing and how long you will spend on each one. Also, include an overall timeframe so that everyone knows how much time they should set aside for your call. Include important action items, and encourage participants to reach out to you if they have any questions, concerns, or suggestions.
Step 5: Dial into Your Conference Call
A few minutes prior to the scheduled time of your call, dial in. You’ll be prompted to enter your conference code and host code to start the conference. If any attendees call in before you do, they will be placed in a virtual “waiting room” until you officially start the conference.
Dialing in a bit early is always recommended, especially for beginners. This ensures that you have time to work out any problems you may encounter and familiarize yourself with how the system works.
Step 6: Start Your Call
Once everyone else has arrived, start your call. Expect to spend the first few minutes chitchatting and waiting for participants to dial in. Don’t get too sidetracked, though! If you want to run effective conference calls, it’s important to get down to business as close to the planned start time as possible.
When you don’t know how to set up a conference call, the idea can seem a bit overwhelming. As you can see in the steps listed above, though, the entire process is quite simple. Once you’ve chosen the right conference calling service, set up an account, and decided on a date, all you have to do is create an agenda, schedule the call, and distribute all the relevant information to attendees.
During your call, do your best to stay on track as much as possible. Encourage attendees to contribute, but avoid getting sidetracked unnecessarily. Before you know it, you’ll be running conference calls like a seasoned pro!