A day or two before the conference begins, make sure everyone has the login PIN number, and remind them of the start time—relative to their time zone! And remember that it is more than a phone call—it is a meeting, so plan accordingly with tasks, goals, and expectations clearly stated. Set an agenda and a time limit for each topic to be covered, rehearse what you are going to say, and keep the event simple and short. (Ideally, the meeting should not run longer than an hour because people tend to get bored, tired, or lose their focus while on the phone any longer than that). If you are planning future teleconferences, try to set a consistent schedule as you would face-to-face meetings, so that everyone will get into the habit of remembering them and being there on time.

As the meeting begins, all participants should connect a few minutes early—entering late is particularly disruptive in teleconferences. Remind all participants that touch-tone phones work best—avoid using cell phones or phones that pick up background noise. Have them call from a quiet location; if that isn’t possible, remind them to use the mute button until they are required to speak. (Muting the phone while listening to the moderator’s speech, presentation, or training session will cancel out noises like barking dogs, rustling paper, pencil-tapping or other distracting background sounds). Have a roll call with each caller saying hello and introduce themselves, because even though you may never meet in person, it’s a good icebreaker and team spirit builder.

During the meeting, it is best to keep small talk to a minimum, and thus keeping it on track. Staying on schedule can be more easily accomplished if you hold off suggestions, comments, questions & answers sessions, and/or discussions towards the end. You might want to conclude the meeting by summarizing some of the main topics covered. Be sure to end early or on time, thank everyone for attending, and remind him or her of the next meeting time. If notes have been transcribed or the call has been recorded, make sure everyone gets a copy or has access to playback; this way, participants can review what was discussed or get clarification if a portion was unclear or missed.

You can indeed save time and money by using Freenet for your next teleconference. By taking these tips into consideration, you can save aggravation and confusion as well.