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How to Run -- and Record -- a Teleconference

 

Do you use teleconferencing when face-to-face meetings aren't possible? Is their use de rigueur at your firm because almost all your employees are far-flung? Here are some tips on how to do it effectively.

  1. Prepare ahead of time. Make sure everyone knows the number to call. Send an agenda and all necessary reports or other materials a day or at least a few minutes before the meeting. Give participants a bit of time to get familiar with the agenda in case they have questions or comments.
  2. Announce yourself. Have speakers check in audibly so everyone knows who's on the call. It's difficult to discern voices over the phone and then attribute who said what.
  3. Take notes. Write down action items, questions, issues and other important points during the call; you'll find that notes come in handy for referencing what was said. Write any comments or questions that come to your mind during the meeting so you can raise them when it's your turn to talk.
  4. Use the mute feature. Sounds are distracting on a conference call: Encourage everyone to mute themselves when they are not speaking. It ensures that everyone who speaks will be heard (and prevents participants from hearing distractions such as clacking keyboards or background conversations). Some systems let the moderator mute everyone.
  5. Ask for feedback. The usual visual cues, such as nodding, head-shaking and looks of confusion are missing in audio-only meetings. Ask occasionally, "Is everyone on the same page? Does everyone agree?"
  6. Keep the meeting on track. Move things along as you cover all the agenda items. If one issue is taking too long and doesn’t involve everyone, suggest a separate phone call after the meeting.
  7. Summarize the conversation. Review takeaways and action items to make sure all participants know their next steps. Immediately send meeting notes for review while the exchanges are still fresh in people's minds.

Ever consider recording these calls? Individual states in the U.S. have their own laws that tend to be grouped by two categories:

  • Two-party notification — As it sounds, both parties on the call must consent to the recording.
  • One-party notification — Only one party is required to agree.

Suppose your group of participants includes a mix of employees in one-party and two-party consent states? The two-party law takes precedence. Federal law requires notification of at least one party in a call. But there is a business telephone exception that may allow employers to record calls on phones that they provide employees. However, get legal advice before doing this.

How do you get consent for a teleconference?

  • Verbal or written consent before the recording is made.
  • Verbal notification only before the recording is made — this is most common.
  • An audible beep tone is repeated at regular intervals during the call.

Many systems automate the notification: Once you set up the record function, it automatically lets all participants know the conversation is being recorded. Keep in mind that you can get yourself into serious trouble by recording when you shouldn't be. Your safest course is never to record unless you get everyone's permission.

 

 
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Our firm provides the information in this e-newsletter for general guidance only, and does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax advice, accounting services, investment advice, or professional consulting of any kind. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional tax, accounting, legal, or other competent advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional adviser who has been provided with all pertinent facts relevant to your particular situation. The information is provided "as is," with no assurance or guarantee of completeness, accuracy, or timeliness of the information, and without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including but not limited to warranties of performance, merchantability, and fitness for a particular purpose.
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