Talking about email manners in a recent Spotlight brought to mind the importance of following professional etiquette in conference calls. Have you ever been bothered by distracting background noise and side conversations, a few people dominating the discussions or an unclear purpose? A short paper by Lela Vandenberg and Kathryn Foerster lists a set of possible guidelines to make conference calls go more smoothly. But this paper goes beyond etiquette with lots of ideas for making virtual meetings as interactive, participatory and productive as possible organized around four key tasks: creating structure, building a sense of community, maximizing interaction and minimizing groupthink. You can find this paper on the Michigan State University Extension Professional Development website along with other resources. Click on the paper’s title, “Guidelines for Teleconferences,” to download this Microsoft Word file. Feel free to pass this along to your volunteers and advisory committees as well.
In addition, Lisa Bottomley, MSU Extension specialist, and Molly Frendo, MSU Extension associate program leader, will conduct an hourlong professional development webinar Feb. 9 at 2 p.m., “Facilitating Effective Conference Calls.” This webinar will cover a variety of topics including creating an agenda for conference calls, keeping participants engaged, maintaining productivity and increasing interactivity. It’s designed from a youth development perspective; however, anyone interested in effective conference calls may attend. Visit the MSU Extension Professional Development Registration System. Scroll down to session 7459, and click on the title. Register by Feb. 6.