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November 14, 2006 in Conferencing Tips
I had the pleasure this morning to sit in attendance with a conference call hosted by Shawn Frey, Industrial Recruiter/Industrial Sales Trainer at Harper Brush Company located here in Fairfield, Iowa. Harper Brush is a leading company here in Fairfield. They’ve continued to grow both in their products, the quality of the service, # of employees and as a community partner. Shawn hosts a bi-monthly conference call (at 6 AM Central…!) with his distributors from around the country. I’m always on the lookout for stories about our customers and their use of our services. It’s fascinating to me to see the many ways our services are used. And, I always find tips I can share with our customers that might help them make better use of their conference calls. Shawn’s conference call this morning was a pleasure to attend. Here’s why: It was organized, coherent, clear, and all that combined to make it very productive. Here’s the simple, but very effective, techniques Shawn uses to get the most out of this conference call. SHAWN’S TECHNIQUES FOR MAXIMUM PRODUCTION
* Start on time, every time. I could tell from everyone’s prompt and prepared arrival that Shawn had instilled in them the idea, from repetitive practice, that the call would start on time and they would be asked to participate. Every caller arrived on time (ok a couple arrived a minute or two late) and ready to participate.
* Welcome them by name. Shawn greeted every caller by name. Now, that’s easy as there were only 6-7 of us. But greeting them by name and with a personal anecdote helps reinforce the warm and open setting for the call.
* Start with a Brief Review After a quick, brief, round of chit-chat Shawn began the meeting with a call to review the notes from the previous call. Again, it's an effective and easy way to set the tone and bring everyone’s focus to the call. Kinda like a warm-up before an athletic event. Just get the brain warmed up and moving towards the topic.
* Actively Seek Everyone’s Input. Again, Shawn’s group is small. But it’s a great technique to make sure your conference calls stay interactive, engaging, interesting, expansive and moving forward when you ask each person their opinion and then ask them follow-up questions. (Go back to the first point: Everyone’s prepared. But then allow, seek, prod, query the guests for more input. For 2 reasons: 1) it adds depth and focus to their content; 2) most people don’t know they know as much as they do. So, help bring it out of them. Makes them feel good also by sharing all they know with their peers.)
* Finish on time. Whew, how many times have I quietly dropped off a call when the host lets it ramble on? Be like Shawn, finish on time. Respect your callers’ time and when it’s time to stop, stop.
* Take Notes and Share. Shawn takes notes from every call and then distributes them by email to his group. WOW! That’s a powerful step to make the most out of your conference call. It so clearly shows the callers that the call is important and the host is willing to go the extra step to insure you get the most from your attendance.
Shawn asked me to share some thoughts or tips of my own at the end of his call. Some are ones we discussed together. TIPS
1) Add Name-Announcement – On-Entry. That feature asks/insists each caller say their name before they’re allowed on the call. The announcement can be either private, to Shawn as the host, or public for everyone to hear. And you’ll hear the same announcement as people leave.
2) Record the Call. You can record your conference call with all of our services. Our latest bridge allows you to record the call in a .wav format and download it at your convenience. One caller asked if it would allow you to fast-forward through the slow parts. Yes. It will. And we can convert that .wav file to a mp3 format with a link for you to post on a website….or…we can create a podcast for your listening audience.
3) Blog. Shawn can post his call notes and call recordings at a blog. Then his callers can post their comments and follow-up for everyone to share in the benefit. It would be a one-stop shop for their tips and advice and questions. They could access it anytime, from any computer with an online connection.
Shawn, thanks very much for inviting me.