Conference calls are becoming a much more regular occurrence these days. Most of my executives participate in a conference call at least once a day if not more often. For assistants, they can be a tricky thing to organise, so much can go wrong – people can call a different number, forget the pin or be let down by the conference calling technology. How do we make sure we organise a perfect conference call every time? Here are my top tips…

Scheduling the call

Select a suitable time and date for everyone involved. Firstly, think about your executive – when is the best time of day for them? Participants do have to concentrate on a conference call, so think about the time of day when your manager seems mainly focused. Secondly, when can all of the other participants make the call? Do ask if they are in a different time zone to you.

Treat the conference call as you would a face-to-face meeting

Conference calls do take a little more time to organise than a usual face-to-face meeting, but the basics should be the same. Ensure that the conference call has an agenda and make sure that all of the participants have the correct paperwork. During the conference call, it can be a little disruptive if the participants cannot see the same documents.

Send clear instructions

It is incredible how many people don’t quite follow conference call instructions! Make sure the instructions are as simple as possible! Include all of the instructions in the meeting request. Also, make sure everyone is aware that it is a conference call, not a face-to-face meeting. Lastly, I make sure I have received a confirmation from all of the attendees, so on the day of the call, I know precisely who is dialling in and who is not.

Emergency plan

Every assistant should make sure they have a conference call emergency plan. I give all of the attendees my mobile number and ask them to text me if they have any problems dialling in. I keep the emergency plan consistent. If I am not in the conference call, I will still ask attendees to text me.

Conference call chairman

I think it is even more important to appoint a chairperson for a conference call than it is a face-to-face meeting. So many people talk over each other during a conference call it can be difficult for participants to each get a turn to speak. A chair can help with this. Assistants should ask their executive or the most senior person in the call. Again make sure the chair’s name is included in the conference call instructions.

Book a room

Do book a meeting room if the majority of participants are in the same location. Add the meeting room details to the conference call instructions.

Sound quality

It can be hard to control the sound quality of a conference call, especially if participants are dialling in from their mobile phones. Try to make sure that the main conference call phone is located near to the meeting chair so they can at least be heard clearly. Otherwise, make sure background noise is kept to a minimum by asking everyone to mute their phones while others are talking.

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