Conference call overhaul with Conference Calls Made Easy
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 Ltd, 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 via www.conferencecallsmadeeasy.com
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.”
Now Penny is urging conference call users to register on her website for a free master class download at www.conferencecallsmadeeasy.com
“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 has been involved in hundreds of effective conference calls where she has learnt the best techniques to employ in group telephone calls.
One programme helped to make a company truly global – at the start, the business operated in a different way in each country and at the end, the core business processes were streamlined around the globe.
“Without effective conference calls, I doubt that this project would have ever got off the ground,” said Penny. “We had to bring together senior figures from different continents, and the only way it could be done was via conference calls. It’s just one example of how important and productive group telephone calls can be.”
However, Penny’s recent informal survey of project teams shows that conference calls are much more likely to be ineffective rather than creative and productive.
She found that bad experiences were all too common. During conference calls:
- Participants sometime struggled to keep awake
- People couldn’t hear others who were taking part
- It was difficult to stay focused
- There was too much background noise
- Participants failed to treat it as a ‘proper’ meeting, so they didn’t prepare and usually turned up late
- It was hard to recognise who was taking part in the conference call and what their role was.
“Group telephone calls have the potential to be very effective, and it makes sense to learn the best ways of achieving that,” added Penny, whose consultancy Making Projects Work Ltd is based in Loughborough, Leicestershire.
“Conference Calls Made Easy is designed for every professional who wants to be part of fruitful conference calls.”
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Dr Penny Pullan on 01509 821691.
History of the conference call
Conference calls were invented in the 1960s by AT&T but were cost prohibitive for most firms. In 1973 the first protocol for conference calls over the pre-internet was established, but it only became commonplace in the 2000s.
During the 1990s, conference calls became more mainstream, and in 2001, after 9/11 and when business travel was slashed, many companies turned to conference calls to get them through the period.
The rise in globalisation has meant that project teams are no longer in the same building but distributed around the world – putting increasing emphasis and importance on conference calls in the 21st century.
Dr Penny Pullan biography
After gaining a BA in engineering followed by a PhD in nanotechnology at Cambridge, Dr Penny Pullan moved into industry… working at Logica, Astra Zeneca pharmaceuticals and in the IT arm of Mars.
While at Astra Zeneca she created a programme that reduced a full day’s pharmaceutical analytical work to twenty minutes. During her ten years at Mars her varied responsibilities included – among other things – streamlining production planning for factories across Europe and running an international consortium-led project to address child-labour issues in West Africa.
She is also a chartered engineer with several other professional qualifications in the fields of project management and facilitation. Penny’s passionate about making projects and programmes work as effectively as they can.
She now runs Making Projects Work Ltd, with a team of associates based across the East Midlands.