We’ve all been there—50 work hours into the week, and you still have three conference calls to make. You’re on the third cup of coffee for the day, and you’re not sure how you’ll get through the next calls without dozing. Corporate America is something of an exhausting field, and we often find ourselves stretched thin, and still, more is required of us. So, how do you balance the work and the calls? What’s the best way to avoid conference call fatigue?
No matter how you spin it, conference calls that are unorganized and messy will always be exhausting. Luckily, we know just what to do to make your conference calls more organized, expedient, and productive, so you can get to the end of your workday and rest. Here are eight ways to avoid conference call fatigue.
1. Keep It Short
There seems to be this misconception in the corporate world that longer meetings are more productive and can cover more topics. In fact, the opposite is true—longer meetings are often exhausting and don’t actually produce great results. The last thing you need at the end of a long workday is a two-hour meeting. That’s why we suggest shorter meetings for everyone.
The shorter meeting approach ensures that you’re being as efficient as possible since you’re giving yourself less time. People stay engaged when they’re not blasted with information for over an hour, and you’ll find that shorter meetings take less mental energy from you.
2. Be Prepared
How many meetings have you been to where the host was completely unprepared? Those meetings are the ones that hurt the most because they’re ten times more likely to drag on for hours. The solution? Always be prepared. Even if you’re just the caller and not the host, you should still be prepared for the topics at hand. Have all of your materials ready to go before the call begins, and be sure you’re in an environment that won’t be a distraction. Use conference call services to host productive, efficient calls where you have full control over the content and the audience.
3. Use An Agenda
Every meeting needs an agenda. An agenda is basically a roadmap to the end of the call, and it should be simple and straightforward. What are you discussing, when and where are you discussing it, and who is attending? These questions are the only items an agenda needs, but you can always go into greater detail if you want. Just be sure that you’re sharing the agenda with your callers before the call begins.
4. Decide If It Really Requires A Call
Here’s a tip we can all agree more managers need to consider: does it really require a conference call, or can it be an email instead? We’ve all been to meetings that would have been better off as emails, and they’re exhausting and usually pretty unproductive. Everyone there seems to know the call could’ve been an email, and is disengaged with the talking points.
Decide if your information truly needs a call. Is it crucial to the day or week’s productivity? Is it pressing? Consider the effect a sudden conference call can have on the team’s morale. Calls can often be disruptive to a productive day.
5. Schedule Time Between Calls
If you have to schedule multiple calls during a long workday, it’s a good idea to leave yourself some breathing room. Back-to-back calls can be especially taxing, and it’s been proven that taking breaks actually makes you more productive throughout the day. When you give yourself some breathing room, you won’t feel as pressured to squeeze everything into an 8-hour day. It’s ok to take a stand for the sake of your mental health and limit yourself to just a few calls per day.
6. It’s Ok To Say No
Speaking of taking a stand, we could all familiarize ourselves with the word “no”. No has a negative connotation in our society, which in itself is a bit toxic. Saying no is part of setting important boundaries for ourselves and protecting our mental health. Boundaries are crucial to healthy relationships both inside and outside of work. It’s ok to say no if you don’t think you’ll have time for a call, or if you’re already working overtime. It’s ok to protect your mental health and postpone certain things until you’re in a better state of mind. We need to normalize saying no to requests that drive us beyond our physical and mental limits.
7. Try A Video Call Instead
Sometimes, just listening to peoples’ voices all day over the phone is especially exhausting. In this case, it might be helpful to schedule a video call instead. That way, you can see a friendly face, and you’ll be able to sort of “escape” the monotony of conference calls. Plus, seeing someone’s face helps you read their body language and have better overall communication.
8. Make Sure Everyone Participates
The especially exhausting conference calls are the ones where no one participates, and the conversation falls to one monotone presenter. It’s important to ensure your callers (and you) are participating in the discussion, both to avoid exhaustion and encourage brainstorming/collaboration.