If you ask agency employees what part of the day they look forward to the least, many would answer: weekly status calls. When conducted poorly, status calls end up being boring, inefficient, and are usually followed by with multiple clarification emails that clog your inbox.
Status calls do not have to be this way!
The act of conversing as a team on the phone can be incredibly efficient if you plan for the calls in advance and execute them properly. We have a few proven tips that will help you turn your weekly status meetings from a dreaded event to an effective part of your day.
Have an Agenda: This may sound like a no-brainer, but we have often been on calls when there is not an agenda. Without an up-to-date agenda, the call is basically over before it starts. An agenda helps to guide the conversation, and ensures that all of the important topics are discussed. We like to send our agenda out to all team members at least an hour before our status call. That way, if the client has any pressing additions they can be easily added to the agenda and addressed during the call.
Also, be sure to stick to the agenda! If you feel like the conversation is beginning to drift, politely regroup the team back to the proper agenda topic.
Start on time: We’ve all been there. You dial in to a conference call and listen to hold music for fifteen minutes before the call finally starts. We are all busy, and it is important to value everyone’s time. If you start late you run the risk of rushing, not covering important topics, or going over the allotted time and taking away from your colleagues’ valuable work time.
Avoid the ‘follow up meeting’ trap: The main goal of a weekly status is to meet with your team or client to discuss what you want to accomplish in the coming week. If a key player for a project isn’t available then your meeting will not be productive. You will inevitably fall into the ‘follow-up meeting’ trap where you have follow-up meetings about previous meetings because key players weren’t available. Remember that it is okay to cancel a status call if it won’t be productive. You can always reschedule it for another time.
Embrace the ‘awkward’ silences: Let’s say everyone goes quiet on your call. Social etiquette tells us to fill these gaps in conversation with small talk. You should avoid this on a conference call. Small talk will distract you from your objective, and make the call longer than it needs to be. If there is a long pause, use that as an opportunity to move to the next agenda item. Or if there is nothing left to discuss, use a pause to end the call.
Send a recap: Immediately following the call, send a detailed recap. Be sure to include the most pressing action items first. Ask any follow up questions in the recap email as well. You can often use the recap as the starting point to draft the following week’s agenda.
How does your team make your status calls more effective?