Shawn at the Anecdote blog has seven suggestions for facilitators to improve the teleconference experience for participants. The original post has a bit more description and justification for each of these items.
- Encourage everyone to be on time
- Introduce everyone
- Remind everyone of who’s speaking
- Reduce background noise
- Rotate start times to be fair to all timezones
- Use IM or chat room to increase richness
- Record the call
These all seem like common sense suggestions, but as a frequent participant in teleconferences I can tell you that it is rare to find a teleconference where even 2 or 3 of these guidelines are adhered to, much less all 7.
Shawn also recommends using a web-conferencing tool as support to the teleconference. Again from personal experience, I can say that this adds immensely to the usefulness and, dare I say, enjoyment of meetings that are all too often a painful experience to endure.