Everyone has to start somewhere. And if you need to facilitate a conference call for the first time, you may be wondering how to run the meeting.

There is good news for you.

Conference calls have a number of differences from face-to-face meetings. However, the nature of their agendas is not one of them. At least not at a high level.

Of course, the purpose of the meeting will affect the format of the meeting. A training meeting, for example, requires a slightly different meeting format than a union negotiation. Despite this, there are several formats that can be followed in most cases.

Here is a format to follow for a conference call that can help you stay in control and achieve your purpose.

1. Introduction by the facilitator.

Remember that people on the other end of the phone cannot see you, so you must introduce yourself and call to start the session. It is also a good idea to ask people how they are doing.

2. Round off the call presentations.

The other people can’t see the other people either. The best way to handle introductions is for the facilitator to review the guests, say their names, and ask them to introduce themselves and anyone else who is with them.

3. Statement of purpose.

Now that we’ve introduced everyone, it’s time to start the meeting. At this point, we need to state why we are meeting and what we will cover at the meeting. This is a good point to establish ground rules for the meeting.

4. Evocation

Because you can’t visually monitor the pulse of the meeting, you need to ask how people are doing. Do they agree with the purpose and agenda? Is there anything bothering you about the meeting? At this point, you need to know how they feel about what is happening.

5. Consultation and evaluation of objects

Once you are done receiving emotional feedback, you can begin to approach the agenda objectively. Ask your audience about any changes they would like to make to the purpose, agenda, or rules. Make sure you come to an agreement before proceeding.

For each item on the agenda you must follow the same basic cycle:

1. Introduce the topic. This should include any background information on the topic.

2. Draw the emotions of each of the participants. How do they feel about the topic or the information they have? A round robin where questions but no comments are allowed is a good way to do this.

3. Ask each of the participants what they think. Get all the information they have on the subject.

4. Decide the way forward, make a decision and assign responsibilities.

5. Evaluate how everyone feels the issue was handled. A round robin of “Do you agree with that?” it will work fine.

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