Noise, delays and even nodding off plague hundreds of conference calls every week, according to businesswoman Penny Pullan.
An informal survey of conference call users revealed that conference calls were much more likely to be ineffective rather than creative and productive.
During conference calls, participants sometimes struggled to keep awake, they couldn’t hear what was being said, and it was hard to recognise who was taking part in the call.
Many participants failed to treat it like a proper meeting, and turned up late and unprepared, said Penny.
“I was shocked to hear how participants felt about conference calls,” said Penny, who has taken part in hundreds of conference calls herself.
“Many dreaded them and felt they were frustrating. Far from being a solution to the problem, these calls were becoming a drain on time and resources. Questions went unanswered, calls went on for ages, and people also told me they could hear others typing their emails during calls, and sometimes even snoring!”
Now she’s planning to overhaul the conference call after discovering how many users find the whole process challenging and frustrating.
Penny, who runs Making Projects Work, has devised a unique system of running and taking part in group telephone conversations.
Conference Calls Made Easy is a programme that draws on her experience of using telephone conferences as a key tool to run global projects.
She believes it will transform the conference call experience for people all over the world – making calls more productive and less of a chore.
Penny, who has worked for Logica, AstraZeneca and Mars Inc, has developed master classes in conference calls which she is now offering.
Already she’s getting great feedback from businessmen and women who have taken part in her bonus master class:
“I have attended conference calls on a daily basis since the early 90s, and all the conference call frustrations that Dr Pullan identifies, I have experienced every one of them,” said Linda Spindley, business manager at HQN Ltd, York. “I knew, therefore, that the training would be exactly what I was looking for. She is providing practical solutions to real world problems.”
“Conference calls by telephone are a key tool for project people,” she said.
“With teams distributed across the country and all around the world, it’s no longer feasible to meet face to face all the time. They offer the promise of quick and easy meetings, freeing up people from the time and expense of travel, but they’re only useful and productive if they’re conducted in the right way.
“When conference calls work well, they lead to lower costs, due to less travel and time spent travelling, and of course a smaller carbon footprint!”
Penny’s recent informal survey of project teams shows that conference calls are much more likely to be ineffective rather than creative and productive.