Keys to better conference calls

As an oftentimes conference call leader, I realize it’s my job to keep everyone engaged. And I think I do this by keeping meetings short, having a focused agenda and keeping the call interactive (we all have a right to participate on a “conference” call).

Which got me thinking, what is my Extended Sales Network (*) doing on others’ conference calls?

So, in my best Family Feud voice, I prompted them to answer this question:

“Besides checking email, name something you’ve done on a conference call?”

The responses were not surprising:

  • Looking at websites, such as (warning: massive time-suck!)
  • Faxing documents
  • Prepping for sales calls
  • Actually listening to the conference call
  • Updating their CRM
  • Finger strength exercises
  • Expense reports
  • Walking the dog
  • Exercising on the treadmill

I was baffled at how few people actually were paying attention to the call! And although there were no admissions of eating, sleeping or hitting the restroom, I’m convinced there are many salespeople who’ve done one or all three at some point in the past year.

3 keys to better conference calls

  1. Set the agenda and outcome. No one wants to join a call where there’s no idea what’s being discussed, and no end in sight to the boredom. Give ’em a reason!
  2. Keep your time commitment. I’m a stickler for this. If I say our call is an hour, it’s over in an hour.
  3. Encourage active participation. Ask questions. Call on random people for opinions.

What do you do? And for you sales leaders, what do you do to keep your team engaged?

(*) The ESN is comprised of team members, LinkedIn connections and other cohorts who are in sales.

Brian Farrell is a coach, helping clients achieve their personal and professional goals. He's also the creator of the "QA2 Method". For more about Brian, visit