How do you make sure your conference call runs smoothly before it even begins? Avoid in-the-moment issues and surprises with a little testing and planning. Here’s a handful of simple steps for you and your conference call guests to complete—both in advance and just before the call.
1. Do a demo
If you can, do a demo with your conference call service providers. This will allow you to complete a full test-run of the service and the conference call features, with information directly from experts. You can ask questions as issues come up and get answers right away. You’ll get a full tutorial with all the information upfront to explore more on your own later.
2. Check your number and access codes
Test out the conference call bridge number in advance. This will ensure that you have an operable number. Also test the specific access codes for the host and for the guests. These testing procedures ensure that no errors have occurred in the assignment of the phone number and codes.
3. Explore the features
Become familiar with all of the features that your phone conferencing service comes with, like the muting functions, conference lock, roll call, etc. Even if you think you’ll never use a certain feature, try it out anyway. You don’t want to get stuck hearing hold music or loud background noise, for instance, and not know who it’s coming from or how to mute their line!
4. Try recording
Do a dry run on the recording function for your conference call, practicing any keyboard commands on your phone to start and stop the recording. Once you have recorded a conference call, go through the steps that your conferencing service provides for retrieving recordings. Then assess the quality, noting that clarity may vary with the type of phone you have, whether it’s a cellphone or landline, and whether you use speakerphone or speak into a mouthpiece. Find the best setup for top-quality call recordings in the future.
5. Prep overseas guests
If you’re hosting a call with international callers, encourage them to test out the toll or toll-free phone number that you’ve given them. Provide a toll-free number unique to your caller’s country with no toll charges, or offer them a permanent toll number they can use to dial in from any country. Either way, international callers should familiarize themselves with the procedures to call in to the U.S. from overseas to avoid adding any unnecessary prefixes or other mistakes.
… And Just Before
6. Remind your guests
Send your guests reminders about the upcoming conference call through email. Include in your email the date and time (including your time zone), the dial-in number, and the guest code they’ll use to join the call. Our customer service representatives recommend sending three reminders: one a week before the call, one the day before, and one the day of the call.
7. Choose a quiet location
Start or join the call from a location where disruptions will be at a minimum. Whether at the office, at home, or—less ideally—on the go, do your best to minimize sounds and disturbance. Remove yourself from other people in the area who are not on the call, close doors, and inform colleagues or other people regularly in contact with you that you will be on a conference call for the next x number of minutes or hours.
8. Turn off call-waiting
Right before you host a conference call, make sure you call from a phone without call-waiting or have that feature deactivated before starting your conference call. Everything you hear on your phone is heard on a conference call, so all those beeps from other incoming calls will disrupt the conference if you don’t turn off call-waiting first. We also recommend using a landline over a cell phone whenever possible, as cell phone microphones tend to pick up more background noise.
9. Arrive early
As the host, you should be there early for a conference call just as you would a regular meeting. Be ready by your phone with call-waiting turned off and any materials you need available at least 5-10 minutes before the call is scheduled to begin. Some buffer time will allow you to be prepared and avoid any delays. If you have any guest speakers who will be talking for a significant portion of the call, have them “arrive” early as well by calling into the bridge to test their sound quality and any other preparations necessary.
10. Refresh yourself and guests on features
Just before the call, do a quick review of call features and be prepared to tell your guests about them so they can maximize their experience on the call. For our conference calls at Conference Calls Unlimited, we let guests know about two features right away: how to mute their own line if they need to by pressing *6 on their phone’s keypad, and how to dial an operator to ask for assistance without disrupting the call by pressing *0.
Here at Conference Calls Unlimited, we know from experience that a quality conference call goes beyond the call itself. It starts with a few test runs and practice on the part of the host and guests so that they become experts in the service. With our top-quality phone conferencing technology and your expert preparation, we can create the best conference calls every time.