Audio conferencing can be a tremendous way for a business to allow communication among a large group of individuals simultaneously. An audio conference can be used to enable management to discuss new company initiatives with a subset of their employees in what will mostly be a one-way conversation. They can also be used to connect many individuals who will all be contributing to the conversation to varying degrees.
The growth of remote work has made audio conferencing more important to businesses than ever before. It is often a logistical and financial nightmare to try to gather even a small, dispersed team in one location for a meeting or conference. Time and money can be spent in much more productive ways than in having people come together to discuss issues that could just as well be handled remotely via an audio conference.
The benefits of audio conferencing can be minimized if you do not have the right equipment, or conduct your conferences in a haphazard fashion. You will also find that there are some issues related to audio conferencing that can be addressed by making some changes to your current conferencing policies or strategies that will improve their utility to you and your employees. Here are 5 tips on how you can improve the way audio conferencing benefits your business.
1. Distribute an Agenda
All participants in the audio conference should be aware of the topic and scope of the discussion. They also need to be advised if they are expected to participate as a speaker, or if they will simply be expected to listen to the subject matter. The agenda can also be used as an invitation to increase the attendance at the conference. Input from co-workers who have seen the agenda may point out ways that it should be modified before the final draft.
Failure to provide all invitees with a clear understanding of what is expected of them at the audio conference will lead to unnecessary delays and confusion. A well-constructed agenda will allow the meeting to proceed smoothly from topic to topic, and there will be no surprises when you call on your Operations Manager to chime in on the new plans. He knew you were going to call on him and is prepared, so the meeting can continue with minimal interruptions.
2. Improve Your Sound Quality
A major impediment to a successful audio conference is inadequate sound quality. According to readytalk.com, the quality of sound can make or break your audio presentation or conference. Some of the sound issues you will encounter can be easily addressed by better microphone location and minimizing any ambient noise that can get picked up and transmitted to your audience. Avoid using mobile phones as the sound quality is poor and the potential for call disruptions are too great.
Another way to improve your sound quality is to invest in better equipment. If audio conferencing is important to your business, this investment will pay for itself in short order. A logical place to start is by purchasing a high-quality microphone rather than using the one built into your phone. In addition to the microphone, custom audio cables can make an incredible difference in the quality of sound and enable your conferences to run smoothly and efficiently.
3. Avoid Multitasking During the Conference
The temptation always exists to get more than one thing done at a time if we can. In some cases, we can truly save time and be productive by dividing our attention among various tasks. This is generally not the case with an audio conference, and your attention should remain focused on the virtual meeting.
Some issues that can arise when you attempt to multitask can adversely affect your understanding of the meeting as well as the overall flow and quality of the experience for all of the attendees. Having to ask a speaker to repeat their last point because you were busy replying to an email wastes everyone’s time, and indicates that you are not paying attention. If this attitude was adopted by the majority of participants, the audio conference would just be a waste of time and money.
4. Make Your Audio Conferences Interactive
According to Public Words, the more conversational your audio conference can be made, the more interesting it will be for all concerned. It can get tedious to listen to a single speaker for prolonged periods of time, regardless of how interesting the topic or subject might be. A better listening and overall conference experience can be attained by having multiple speakers engage your audience.
In some instances, this may be impossible, as there may be a viable reason for a single speaker to dominate the conference. Careful planning can minimize these occasions, as various speakers can take turns communicating part of the overall message. A recommendation is if one person is to talk for more than 10-minute intervals, breaks should be taken and the participants polled for feedback or to see if the previous points need any additional clarification.
5. Set Specific Goals For Your Audio Conference
A conference that is designed to get the team together and hash out some new ideas may be less productive that one that has a more focused purpose. If instead, the participants know that the goal is to devise a marketing strategy that targets a particular audience and will be showcasing your new innovative product, your conference will have a much better chance of being successful.
The goals can be communicated in your agenda, as well as in a carefully prepared opening statement to the conference attendees. This assists everyone in defining their role in the conference and determining if their input will be required at any point in the meeting. Following up after the conference to gauge the level of success in attaining the stated goal paves the way for more productive meetings in the future.
These tips should help you take advantage of the benefits that your business can accrue from the use of audio conferencing. It is a technology that any business can use to their advantage when employed in an intelligent and comprehensive way.
What tips would you offer to readers to make business conferences more effective? Leave us a comment with your thoughts in the section below.