If you are anything like me, you hate to lose time taking part in unproductive meetings, listening to people talk at the same time, and generally not seeing any value in such moments while you feel your life energy being drained from your body.
That’s why it’s so refreshing when you participate a useful, organized, action-and-outcome-oriented meeting.
Getting people together is a focal point of every teamwork and it’s really no wonder that there are so many books and articles that explain how to get good results during meetings.
However, there are many different meeting forms and each of them has its own benefits and flaws.
Let’s analyze one of the most common meeting forms – audio conferences.
PRO 1: Much faster than an email exchange
I still remember the time when I was in high school and when I set up the sound alarm to notify me when I received an email. I was happy like a puppy whenever someone wrote. Imagine that! These days, I receive hundreds of emails daily and my whole team knows that, which is why they do not expect me to reply but rather choose another, more efficient ways of collaboration.
Email communication is, of course, great and has many benefits, but for brainstorming, discussion, conversation, in team environment, there is almost no less productive way of getting things done.
Audio conferences have a big advantage over email communication when it comes to that part.
One fruitful conversation, a few clearly defined and elaborated thoughts, all of it sometimes takes only several minutes, or even an hour. On the other hand, for the same level of understanding, you may send tens of emails and spend several days exchanging them. What is worse, you risk getting people aggravated, misunderstood, and annoyed while trying to reach an agreement via emails.
Use conversations to align and agree, and use emails to document what you’ve already agreed on. Not vice versa.
CON 1: Reduced comprehension due to connection quality and background noise
Although audio conferences are helpful and a good way to get aligned, naturally, there are some drawbacks. Some of the legendary problems is poor connection quality and background noise.
How many times have you heard these sentences during an important meeting?
- “Can you please go on mute, there is a terrible noise…?”
- “Oh, who has a dog? How cute…”
- “Sorry, could you repeat…?”
- “Audio is breaking up…”
- And the evergreen: “… oh, sorry, I was speaking on mute… hahahaha… “
I am not so sure that these will ever go away, but what we can try to do is to really use that mute button, take care of our Internet connection, and make sure that our kids or pets are engaged in some other activities so that they wouldn’t interrupt us.
PRO 2: Building relations
If I had to choose one fundamental building block of any business success throughout my career, that would be the relations built with my team, with my partners, and with my customers.
As time passes by, you build relations, you earn and provide trust, you get quicker in understanding each other, and ultimately build a common working culture.
Although this is possible to achieve via emails to some extent, the time required for it is much longer, the chances for misunderstanding are much higher and, in general, is not an optimal way to build relations.
With audio conferences, however, all of this is so much easier. We can connect, align, tell jokes, laugh, etc.
Relation building via audio conferences is simply miles ahead compared to email communication.
CON 2: Extra effort to explain topics
If you are not sharing your screen, you will need to put in extra effort in order to explain concepts you talk about when you are having an audio conference.
Oftentimes, this is not easy. If the topic is important and the audience is comprised of senior colleagues, not only can the pressure be high, but we could also be speaking in our second or third language with lower proficiency than we would in our mother tongue.
If you are just starting your career and if you are still learning how to lead meetings, I would recommend coupling your conference with screen sharing in order to make your way through meetings.
Take a look at video below where I present how screen sharing can help you in this regard.
PRO 3: Recognizing emotions and intentions
Via audio conference we can convey our emotions, intentions, and understanding of our participants in a straightforward manner.
Humans are very good at recognizing emotions and intentions from the human voice alone, which is why audio conference meetings are clearly an improvement and the next step we can take if the only way to communicate until now has been email communication.
Often, in international environments, and especially if jargon is used, without that additional dimension – the tone of the human voice, it’s very hard to understand the true meaning of words if they are only written.
CON 3: Hard to hold participants’ attention
If we fall into a trap and make our audio conference a monotonous one where only one or two persons talk, we risk losing the attention of our meeting participants, which eventually leads to experiencing no participation or value added.
Hence, one of the most important tasks during a meeting is to keep our meeting participants engaged.
The most effective way to accomplish that is to ask them questions directly by using their first names to address them and keep their attention.
If we had already invited only relevant participants to our meeting, as discussed previously, then every participant would have something to say during the meeting, which would in turn make our work easier.
Each participant would have an active role during the meeting and something to add to our current plan.
Where I can find more of this?
Our Vision is to accelerate professional and personal development of young professionals and by that, make a small part of the world a better place.
We talk about this and many other concepts, and we transfer them to real-life scenarios in The SPARK Method course.
Can’t get enough of information like this? Here are more resources!
During one of our webcasts, I was talking about meeting organization and what a good meeting should look like:
Hear what Aleksandar, a very successful Project Manager, has to say about meeting organization in one of our interviews: