Conference calls are expected when outsourcing to the Philippines. Either for a supervisor to contact their remote team, or for members of a remote team to discuss certain matters. However, many things can go wrong during a conference call: from unexpected background noises, static, overly perceptive mics, or outright disconnections.
Making these mistakes may vary from uncontrollable to avoidable, and for the betterment of a productive call, it’s best to avoid these when possible. While most of these can easily be fixed, others can stem from a hardware problem, possibly a sub-par speaker or mic, or worst–connectivity issue.
Being on a conference call when outsourcing to the Philippines can be quite jarring if you are accustomed to traditional meetings. It is all too easy to forget that when someone is talking, the person who is talking louder (or the person with a better mic) would be heard over someone who is talking quietly (or if they are stuck with a bad mic). Make sure that you speak loudly and clearly in general during a conference call, and as a workaround for a sub-par mic or speaker which you or your colleagues may have to use.
Another mistake would be talking over people in the call. This would be a challenge, since in some cases where an audio-only call is made, a person cannot see when another is about to speak. An easy remedy for this is to allow an appropriate amount of silence before speaking, when asking a question allow a significant amount of time for others to think before resuming the conversation. If someone has been talked over, allow them to repeat what they have said to avoid any confusion.
When using headphones for a conference call, ensure that your microphone is not too close to your mouth nor nose, this is to stay away from the pet peeve of hearing someone heavily breathing during the call. Proper mic placement is needed to ensure clarity of voice and kept far enough away from your breath.
Another mic-related issue is with the mute function. Knowing how and when to mute your end of the call (When there’s too much background noises such as dogs barking or loudspeaker announcements) and how to unmute your call. It is not uncommon for someone to say something that would greatly benefit the direction of the call, only to find out they were still on mute.
DEVIATING FROM THE AGENDA
Setting an agenda for a conference call when outsourcing to the Philippines, would dictate the topic to be discussed for that meeting. While deviating from this set discussion may seem difficult on paper, in practice it is far too easy to stray from one topic to another. Establishing an agenda for the call ahead of time will also ensure that people who are set to participate in the call are able to prepare for the topic. Assigning roles in advance so that people will know what point in the agenda will they be responsible for and to keep track the duration of the call.
This also applies to the time set aside for the call itself, should the call only be scheduled for two hours, then it should be set to end by the agreed upon time. Of course a few minutes are allowed to extend for closing notes and recounting the accomplishments made in the call.
While background noise are often from circumstances beyond your control such as cars passing by, nearby construction, announcements made over loudspeakers, or loud neighbors, these distracting noises can disrupt the flow of the conference and may require precious time to backtrack to the topic proper.
However if the noises can be averted it is best to do so, things like placing your pet in the backyard, telling your kids not to disturb you or make too much noise unless it’s an emergency, and setting your devices to silent mode for the duration of the call can lead to a more productive call. Should these noises arise, it would be best if you mute your end of the call to avoid any unneccessary noise.
NOT SPECIFYING WHO YOU ARE OR WHO YOU ARE SPEAKING TO
It is easy to forget that the other participants in the call may not be your daily workmates, and thus will not recognize you by your voice alone. They may even be people who simply know you by name in company files. In order to avoid confusion, it is a good practice to state your name when you speak in conference calls before you begin what you are about to say. This is also good for other participants if what you are about to say next is a question, since they know your name and maybe even your department, this will help provide the proper guidance when they respond.
Another good rule of thumb when asking a question over a conference call is specifying to whom a questions is addressed to. Dropping a question in an audio-only call without specifying who it is for can lead to a minor confusion, or perhaps the entire call will assume that it was a general question. This can derail the topic for others.
Making sure that a conference call goes as planned can be a challenge. Thus, equipped with these tips when scheduling or hosting a conference call can definitely avoid distractions leading to a better output. So remember when outsourcing to the Philippines, always let your colleagues or call participants know about these points before a call takes place to help keep everyone on the same page.