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How to Set the Ground Rules for a Conference Call

March 14, 2011 | Comments: 0 | Views: 67

With any meeting, it's always important to set up ground rules. This is especially true for an interactive meeting where people are going to be responding. Or more correctly, where there is the impression that people will be expected to respond. A conference call is a perfect example.

In fact, setting rules for a conference call is even more important than normal. For some reason, as a society we've forgotten many of the basic rules of politeness when it comes to being on the phone. You know the ones... where the offender immediately says "Oh, sorry. I didn't realize you were on the phone." And then immediately continues on with the offence.

This problem applies to any conference call but especially with teleseminars where the attendees aren't normally speaking.

So how do you solve the problem?

Well, like any meeting, you solve the problem by setting ground rules. In this article, I'm going to focus on how to set the ground rules for a conference call or teleseminar.

First, at the start of every conference call you need a lead-in. This part of the conference is used for a number of initiating tasks. For example, you need to introduce the participants. While this is mandatory for a generic peer or facilitated-peer meeting even teleseminars will find this action useful. In any case, you will need some form of ice breaker. You'll also need to introduce the facilitator and the agenda for the meeting.

Given that the lead-in is a bit of a hodge-podge before the meeting actually begins, this makes it the perfect place to introduce the rules. Alternatively, the facilitator can incorporate the rules into the beginning of the presentation. This can be useful and it can emphasize the rules. However, the lead-in is generally a better bet.

When actually presenting the rules there are five things that you need to keep in mind and ensure that you incorporate into the presentation.

1. Always be positive. Let's be a little bit honest here. Rules are by their nature negative. After all, you're trying to prevent some issue from arising. However, even the need for rules can be made positive. After all, you are trying to avoid problems and make the conference call run smoothly.

2. Always ask for input. People resent rules. Cool. Why? Because rules are usually imposed on them. Don't just force a set of rules on the meeting. After all, the participants are paying you to attend. If not with cash then with their time.

3. Always explain. The other half of the reason people resent rules is because they are not understood. Why does the rule exist? Most people are reasonable. They recognize that rules are necessary. They also accept that other people may have thought about the issue before hand. Trust them. All you have to do is explain why you are imposing a rule.

4. Use a standard set of rules. Most meetings -- conference call or otherwise -- tend to have similar rules. People are people and they make the same types of mistakes. Using a standard set of rules helps you to always remember them. And if the conference call is the type that is run frequently with the same participants, they also will remember the rules.

5. Be honest. When I first wrote this down, I actually said "Be consistent." But ultimately, it comes down to being honest with the imposition of the rules -- honest with your participants and honest with yourself. If you're not going to enforce the rules, there's no point in having them. And never, ever, ever enforce the rules with one person while letting another person skate.

Do you want to learn how to create information products (learning content)? Check out my new free eBook "7 Myths and Seven Tricks in Nine Steps":

Do you want to read more free information like this? Go to my blog:

Glen Ford is an accomplished consultant, trainer and writer. He has far too many years experience as a trainer and facilitator to willingly admit.

Source: EzineArticles
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