It’s inevitable. It’s like the metal casing from the missing eraser on the end of a pencil rubbing on paper.  On an important conference call, does it bother you when everyone asks, “How’s the weather where you are?” Why do we continue to waste important genuine getting to know you, get stuff done time? We know it’s hot in Phoenix.

We did the math. Consider eight people, who, on average, make $75K, talk about “fluff n’ stuff” for 15 minutes on each monthly conference call. That’s 1,440 minutes of wasted productivity – or $8,664. A C-suite call is closer to $25,000 in waste that could have been spent on employee wellness or philanthropy.

But more importantly, what about opportunity cost? The opportunity to actually get to know each other better? And help each other? That’s what matters most.

We believe that being vulnerable is attractive. Being vulnerable can be a gateway to genuine conversation, friendship, and in many cases, better business relationships. So, why not improve conference calls, icebreakers and networking events, by getting right to the heart of the matter?

So Mrs. and Mr. Conference Call Leader, here are some methods to help your team better connect as well as help you lead productive calls, skipping awkwardness and wasted productivity:

  1. Start with impactful question icebreakers like:

    – Is there anything memorable or meaningful that has happened to you recently?
    – What characteristics must your work environment have to make you feel engaged?
    – What challenges are you facing professionally?
    – What is something you learned recently worth sharing?
    – What are you hoping to accomplish in your job this year?
    – If income was not an issue, what would you spend your time doing?
    – What are the most significant characteristics of your best bosses?
    – Do you get to do something at work that you love? If so, what?

  1. Try The Compliment Circle.
  2. Share an agenda. If there is nothing worth discussing, 86 the call.
  3. Dive into issues worth debating FIRST. Passion and adrenaline, especially with divisive, spirited topics will create a much more engaging call.
  4. Use video conferencing technology.
  5. Add giveaways as an incentive to ensure they’re paying attention or use them as post-call appreciation you for contributing.
  6. Don’t bring up the weather. Just don’t do it.

Here’s to really getting to know each other so we can do more stuff that matters, like helping each other.