1. Make sure that everyone understands the purpose of the conference call. Is it a briefing or a conference? What is expected of them? Issue an agenda before the meeting and keep it short. Agenda items take longer because everyone needs to speak.
  2. Be on time for the start of the call. Make the call from somewhere comfortable and quiet. If you are the leader then be early, that way you can note who is there as they arrive. Then start on time.
  3. If you can’t be in a quiet place then use the mute button on your phone when you’re not talking. Don’t distract everyone else with your background noise. You’re going to be distracted enough as it is. Try to find somewhere quieter next time.
  4. It really helps to involve everyone if you visualise the people at the meeting. Draw the meeting table and the folk around it then look at it while you’re talking so that you remember who is there and can bring them into the conversation
  5. No speakerphones. They pick up all the background noise, make your voice echo so that it distracts the others and make it too easy for you to be distracted by things outside the meeting. They also tend to be half duplex so that only one person can be heard at a time. A meeting with no interruptions is pretty dull.
  6. There is no reason that is in the interests of the meeting for groups of people to gather together for the call. You would never allow mini-meetings within your other meetings. People just distract each other and you often get feedback from two phones in proximity.
  7. Pay attention to what is being said. Avoid distractions and participate in the call. No email, blackberry, messaging, text, surfing, sudoku or other distractions during the call.
  8. Ask more questions than you do in a normal meeting. Without the visual cues you have to actively engage. Bringing people into the conversation keeps the meeting focused
  9. Mix real & virtual meetings in your schedule. You conference calls work better when people know one another.
  10. Use conference calls to maintain project progress, cut down travel time, and share information. It’s cheap and it’s easy but keep to the point and don’t waste peoples time.