It’s inevitable. It’s like the metal casing from the missing eraser on the end of a pencil rubbing on paper. On an important conference call, does it bother you when everyone asks, “How’s the weather where you are?” Why do we continue to waste important, genuine get-to-know-you, get-stuff-done time? We know it’s hot in Phoenix.

I did the math. Consider eight people, who, on average, make $75,000 a year and talk about “fluff ’n stuff” for 15 minutes on each monthly conference call. That’s 1,440 minutes of wasted productivity—or $8,664. A C-suite call is closer to $25,000 in wasted dollars that could have been spent on employee wellness or philanthropy.

But more important, what about the opportunity cost—the opportunity to actually get to know each other better? And help each other? That’s what matters most. I believe that being vulnerable is attractive. Being vulnerable can be a gateway to genuine conversation, friendship and, in many cases, better business relationships. So, why not improve conference calls, icebreakers and networking events, by getting right to the heart of the matter?

So, Mrs. and Mr. Conference Call Leader, here are some methods to help your team better connect as well as help you lead productive calls, skipping awkwardness and wasted productivity.

Start with impactful question icebreakers such as:
a. Is there anything memorable or meaningful that has happened to you recently?
b. What characteristics must your work environment have to make you feel engaged?
c. What challenges are you facing professionally?
d. What is something
you’ve learned recently that’s worth sharing?
e. What are you hoping
to accomplish in your
job this year?
f. If income was not an
issue, what would you spend your time doing?
g. What are the most significant characteristics of your best bosses?
h. Do you get to do something at work that you love? If so, what?

Try The Compliment Circle. This activity is titled after an elementary school exercise where children sit in a circle and say nice things about the person next to them. That’s it. And I promise that you will uncover smiles. You may even experience tears of fulfillment. Find the details and some options on my website.

Share an agenda. If there is nothing worth discussing, 86 the call.

Dive into issues worth debating first. Passion and adrenaline, especially  with spirited topics, will create  a much more engaging call. 

Use video conferencing technology.

Add giveaways as an incentive to ensure that others on the call are paying attention or use them as a post-call appreciation to thank others for contributing.

Don’t bring up the weather. Just don’t do it. 


Danny Rosin, CAS, is co-president of distributor Brand Fuel, co-founder of Band Together and serves on the boards of PPAI and American Marketing Association.