Conference calls are useful for arranging a meeting with a group of people in different places who need to make decisions. A group of attorneys may need to meet and decide a strategy for their client’s case, or a group of bachelorettes may be trying to plan a wedding shower. A conference call can help a group of people make decisions in minutes, which might take days over email and could be impossible to do in person.
Identify the people you need to invite to the conference call. Then prioritize the importance of each person’s attendance. If there are three or four people calling into your conference call, prioritizing the invitee list may not be important. But if you are inviting six or more people, it is more likely that there will be scheduling conflicts. Make sure the important decision makers will be able to attend.
Contact important attendees to identify scheduling conflicts. Find out if and when those people will be out of town for an extended period of time, on a plane and unavailable to call in or otherwise unable to attend. Arrange your meeting time around these conflicts.
Send out an invitation to all attendees. Use email, Evite or another invitation software program. Microsoft Outlook can schedule the meeting, send invitations and allow invitees to accept or decline. You will quickly get a general idea of who can attend and who can’t. The invitees may have suggestions on times that work better for them, and they can also send you agenda items in their responses to the meeting request. Revise your invitation based on the feedback you receive.
Schedule your meeting using a call-in service. There are several companies that specialize in hosting conference calls, such as including FreeConference and InstantConference. If your company often schedules conference calls, find out if your company has a contract with a particular call-in service.
Send out the finalized invitation to all attendees. Send the invitation even to the people who declined the original meeting request, in case they later become available. Make sure to include all the pertinent information in the invitation, including the date and time of the call, the country code and phone number that participants should use, as well as any necessary participant codes. Also include your contact number so that attendees can contact you directly if they have problems dialing in.
If you have never used a conference-call service before, ask around about the clarity of the calls and ease of use. There are some free services and some that charge a fee. Compare the prices of the fee-based services and decide which best fits your company's needs.
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