Ah, the conference call: so necessary, and often so needlessly cumbersome. When they work well, conference calls are an invaluable way to keep everyone on the same page and push projects forward. But we’ve all been on calls that did absolutely nothing but waste time—resulting in projects actually stalling and confusion all around.

With team members and clients all over the world, conference calls are a vital part of life here at &Marketing. We’ve learned to love them—mostly thanks to developing systems to improve productivity and efficiency of these calls. Looking to craft conference calls people actually look forward to? Here’s how we do it:

Ace the Agenda.
Most projects we work on include several action items, each requiring input from many different individuals. Noting the overall project on an agenda and breaking it down into several bullet points always helps create more productive conversations. Bonus points for circulating the agenda to the call participants in advance—this helps ensure everyone comes better prepared and helps keep the meeting on track.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare.
Once you’ve disseminated that well – organized agenda, it should be easy to arrive as prepared as possible. Whether you are leading the call or just participating, have everything at the ready before you dial in. Especially if you’ll be screen sharing, open the reports you may need to share—scrambling to find the right spot on a weekly analytic report not only wastes everyone’s time but instantly labels you as unprofessional. And please, if there is even the slightest chance of screen sharing, close anything NSFW. You’d be surprised how many people neglect this step! Most importantly, imagine everything you would need to explain a project to someone who knew nothing about it, and have it ready to go. Be the hero who can say “I have that data right here…”

Ask and Answer Appropriately.
Don’t be afraid to speak up if something is unclear—chances are someone else is just as confused. Questions allow the group to think about the project from different perspectives, leading to increased understanding as a team. You should also feel comfortable jumping in with an answer to someone else’s question, but only if you’re sure you can answer it well. There’s no shame in passing the ball to a more knowledgeable teammate, and nothing derails a call faster than when several people chime in unnecessarily.

Determine and Document Next Steps.
Our team concludes all meetings by wrapping up action items, both at the end of the call and with a follow-up email. The email, sent soon after the call, documents all client actions and &Marketing responsibilities. This holds us accountable for our promises to the client and keeps the project on time and on task.

Ideally, conference calls are the most efficient way to keep a project moving forward. Once everyone is clear on what needs to be done, how it will get done, and what to do next, your team works with synchronized precision—no matter where they are.

At &Marketing, we’re experts at project momentum because we know that if you’re not moving forward you can quickly lose your lead. Following the above steps ensures smooth, productive, and efficient conference calls that help bring your project to the finish line.

Your competition is moving forward. Are you?