Best Practice: Five Tips to Effective Meetings

Submitted by Operations Management Trainees Marci
Whitby and Ed Vaughn

Let’s face it, conference calls can be dull. You dial in, listen to elevator music until the start time
and then sit patiently as a colleague works through an agenda (if any). After being on a conference
call or two that needed work, two employees from the Greater Mid-Atlantic put together this listing
to help other people execute more effective meetings.

  1. Be prepared. Send an Outlook invitation as a reminder with the agenda and supporting
    documents attached for review. Announce meeting goals at the start of the call.
  2. Use icebreakers. For example, ask everyone to describe in one word their most
    significant challenge this week.
  3. Avoid “crickets.” Don’t ask questions to the entire group (this is when you can hear crickets).
    Ask individual questions to specific participants, like, “Joe, do you have anything to share?”
  4. Stay focused. If a call begins to veer off course, don’t be afraid to recommend an issue
    be taken offline.
  5. Finish strong. When your call is almost finished, wrap up with a summary of the items you’ve
    covered, list action items and those on the call who are responsible for following up.

“Conference calls are very important to our business,” said Marci Whitby, operations management trainee for
the Greater Mid-Atlantic Area. “Because of the wide areas we cover, calls can save us from a lot of
unproductive travel, and when run well, can be very effective.”