If you’re organising a conference call, the first thing on your personal agenda should be: Writing an Agenda. With an agenda, your call will be an efficient, productive and successful meeting. Without an agenda, conference calling becomes just another chat on the phone.
So if you’re fairly new to audio conferences, it will help to know how to create a call agenda.
Fortunately, PowWowNow doesn’t just have all the call services and apps covered. We also have the know-how to help you prepare an agenda to make every minute of your conference call count.
Let’s not get into the meaning of life just now. But what about the purpose of your call? According to the Harvard Business Review, there are three reasons for meetings (and calls) to happen:
When you know how to create a call agenda, you know that what you’ll get from your call will be informative, will involve others, and will lead you to a result.
To make sure you start as you mean your conference to go on, your agenda will have three key components in addition to the topics for discussion. First, it will include the dial-in details (phone number, passcodes etc.) so they’re handy for participants.
Second, it will include the name, title and department or company of everyone taking part. When you’re not seeing each other in person, this helps to make everyone more comfortable on a call.
And third, it will include a timeline for the meeting, broken down by topic. Otherwise, there’s a danger your conference could drag on longer than it needs to, longer than is productive, and longer than participants have to spare.
An agenda does more than one job – and not all of them are the ones you might think of.
Obviously, when you create a call agenda, your main aim is to provide a framework for your call. But it does something else even before the call starts. It helps to get buy-in from the people who’ll be on the call. If you’ve included their topic, or assigned a topic to their name, they are more likely to come prepared.
An agenda also sets out expectations. It shows this isn’t “just another phone call” but an audio conference. It implies you expect participants to be prepared, be engaged, and be productive.
Get your agenda wrong and people might zone out of your conference before they’ve even dialled in. Get it right, and you’ll get the information, input and decisions you’re looking for – and all in double-quick time.
So even before the call, make sure you give all invitees a chance to have input. Ask around for topics they would like to see on the agenda. Then assign each topic on the agenda to a named person. This gives them a heads-up that they need to come prepared, and means someone will guide the topic so it doesn’t deteriorate into a general – and generally fruitless – discussion.
How you phrase the topics on the agenda will also make a difference to how well your conference call goes. Make each topic a question instead of a statement and you encourage people to come up with answers. And it’s answers you want your conference to produce. So, for example, instead of: “Sales projections for 2021”your topic could be: “How do we beat our 2020 sales?”
Created with input from invitees; circulated in advance; topics allocated to named participants; topics phrased as questions. You can download an example of the ideal call agenda here. But there’s something else which is important.
Between circulating your agenda and the call itself, things might change: from something as small as – say – a product price increase to something as major as winning a big chunk of new business. If you don’t allow time (probably at the start of the conference) to at least mention these developments, they may distract people, drive agenda items off-topic, or even be overlooked when in fact they need to be considered.
To balance a timed schedule against flexibility, you could even make “Agenda revisions” your first topic on every agenda.
Lastly, remember to build in time at the other end of the agenda for feedback. Not on the topics covered, but on the conference itself. What worked well, what went wrong, what you could do next time to make it work better.
It’s far better to hear comments and criticism directly than second-hand. And that counts double for praise for your perfect conference call agenda.