Conference calling is a necessary evil.

In-person meetings are usually preferable but not always possible - especially for state, national, and international associations.

So, people have to chime in wherever they happen to be at the selected time.

Here are some tips to make the calls work well:

1. Provide as much notice of the call as you would for an in-person meeting.

2. Remember to take time zones into account when scheduling.

3. Distribute documents ahead of time, just as you would for an in-person meeting.

4. Send suggestions to participants with tips about how to conduct the meeting (see items below).

5. Start on time. Don't wait for people to "show up." If you start late, people will always arrive late, and you'll end up always starting late.

6. Do not multitask during the meeting. Don't do work, chat with fellow employees, answer the phone, respond to emails, or do anything that takes you away from the meeting. If driving during the call, pull over and park somewhere. Your mind should be on the meeting, not on the road.

7. Recognize that a telephone call does not allow for visual cues. Some people may start speaking at the same time or not realize that another hasn't finished. There may be silent gaps, when participants are trying to be polite by letting a colleague speak first. These things are OK.

8. Don't feel that you can only speak to an issue once. You should be able to carry on a conversation just as you would in person. That does not make you a "phone hog."

9. If you want to change from teleconferencing to videoconferencing, be aware that participants are likely to possess different skills and comfort levels, so take the time to prepare them and accept that the first couple of meetings may not be conducted in perfect fashion.

10. Teach people how to share documents in a video conference. That will be a new experience for many of them.

Note: Here's the article that prompted this post.