Everyone knows keeping in touch with clients is absolutely essential for PR professionals, and often, a call is the best way to get up to speed. But we’ve all fallen victim to classic conference call blunders that make everyone wish they had just kept the conversation exclusively over email.
Here are a 5 tips for happy conference calls with clients to keep your important conversations as productive as they can be:
1. Timing is everything. Even the most overly-caffeinated morning person isn’t necessarily at his best at 8:30 a.m. on Monday. Or if your client regularly indulges in a large burrito lunch, scheduling your meeting while she is still in a food coma isn’t going to do either of you any favors. Since you want the conversation to be productive, choose a time that works for everyone and of course keep in mind time zones. And send a meeting request so everyone is on the same page.
2. Write an agenda. A call without an agenda is like shopping for groceries when you are hungry. You end up with too much of what you don’t need, and it’s simply a waste of time. Even the barest of sketches of what you need to cover can help keep the call moving efficiently and save anyone from asking the one question that means your call is heading into failure territory: “Why are we on this call?”
3. Move it along. At least one person needs to be in charge of sticking to the agenda, pushing topics for follow up, recording notes, and calling attention to the most pressing to do items. This person makes sure crucial information doesn’t fall by the wayside if things get off topic and keeps the call within time boundaries. Having a captive audience for a shorter time is always better than having half of the participants checking their watches—or being just plain checked out—because the call ran over.
4. Send a recap afterwards via email. Not only are these extremely helpful for both you and the client to get through action items post-call, but they can help identify any potential communication problems. Say you were certain your client decided to move the company’s upcoming event from Friday to Saturday. Include this in your recap and email it to everyone who was on the call afterwards. Now, it’s in writing for review before you have 500 people show up on Saturday. Plus, email recaps can help set the agenda for your next call.
5. Follow up. The next step after the call is to complete the tasks assigned to you. But it’s also helpful to set reminders to make sure you have received all the information you need in order to move the ball forward in a timely fashion—especially before your next call.
Whatever you do, don’t let your conference call end up like this: