Hosting a teleconference call

Last Wednesday, I hosted a teleconference call for the first time. It was the December community call for IBM’s Web 2.0 for Business Community, and I wanted to bring people together and talk about the interesting things people had done over the last year.

Before the event, I set up an event post on Beehive (one of our internal social networking platforms), figured out how to send out a Lotus Notes message with a button to add the event to people’s calendars (thank you, Bernie Michalik!), and borrowed a teleconference line from Ian McNairn. I also reviewed the comments and updates people had shared on the event post, copying it into a list so that I could summarize things briefly.

I was so nervous before the call started. What if I couldn’t figure out how to start the teleconference call? What if I couldn’t get into the Sametime Unyte session that we were using to provide an e-meeting backchannel? What if I’d made a dreadful mistake on the teleconference invitation? Fortunately, I kept enough of my wits about me to upload the material I’d prepared and start recording the session.

When I got everything set up and I saw people joining, I felt so relieved. A number of people joined the call early. We waited for five minutes for more people to call in, but I didn’t want to leave that time as dead air, so I kept repeating the call details and adding some notes about Web 2.0 resources I’d heard about. I had a slide with all the call-in information and the (very short) agenda, and I invited people to start introducing themselves in the backchannel.

We started the agenda at 11:05 AM EST. I welcomed everyone again (sixth time, perhaps?). I summarized the updates that people posted. People jumped in with more details, questions, and other topics for discussion.

What worked well?

  • I liked having the call-in information posted on the first slide, to help people orient themselves and reconnect in case they were lost.
  • I remembered to repeat the questions from the e-meeting on the phone, because some people weren’t connected to the chat room.
  • I liked the way that the event post allowed us to start the conversation and get lots of material for the call.
  • I really enjoyed connecting the dots during the call, recommending that people check out various resources or talk to other people. I also appreciated how lots of people shared their thoughts, too. It reminded me a little of talk shows with call-in questions. =)

How can I make this even better?

  • I can start the session with lots of useful tips on the first slide, to reward people who come in early.
  • I can show people’s pictures so that they get a sense of who else is in the community.
  • I can ask people to type the interesting bits into the chat, creating instant minutes.

Good stuff!