Conducting or attending a conference call is not like speaking live. This is the reason why effectively using a conferencing service is very important. It is very easy to lose interest in a meeting if you are sitting in front of a gadget unable to see anyone else, or are watching a cold and impersonal television or computer screen.
Because you are unable to see the other participants in the call, or even if you can see them on a screen, there is no way to clearly identify their body language. Your listening skills need to be excellent. In order to achieve this, there must be no distractions. All the interruptions and noise must be removed. The microphones need to be muted except for the speaker. Calling from a car is not an option as it is very dangerous and distracting.
Silence can also be used for emphasis. As participants will be on mute, the speaker can use some seconds of silence to make a message more powerful. Repeating a phrase and then being silent for a second or two afterwards can drive a message come more powerfully than anything else.
A headset with a microphone is better than using the computer's microphone or speakerphone. Audio quality is not very high with those gadgets and a headset with a mike can make it easier to hear and be heard. Check if your conference call services provider can have them made available.
It is also good practice for a participant to announce his or her name before they speak. If anyone violates this, the host of the conference call needs to issue a reminder.
Conference calling requires an agenda just like a regular face to face meeting. Sending the agenda to all attendees is always a good idea unless the conference is was set up in a hurry to address an urgent matter. Stick to the agenda and do not allow anyone to drift away from the topic at hand. Materials that would be needed, like documents and notes, need to be checked ahead of time so that there will be no problems during the conference.
With conferencing, it is very important to start and end on time. Time is money and the participants may have other pressing matters to attend to. It is also necessary to avoid meetings when matters can be addressed by other means. If an email can do the job, there is no need to call 30 people for a conference – it is a waste of time and resources.