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Conference call tips for multi-site studies

Conference Calls

These recommendations were developed by the Cancer Research Network to assist the smooth and effective functioning of conference calls with large, diverse teams.

  1. To be respectful of parties who joined the call at the appointed time, all calls should convene within 5 minutes of the announced start time.
  2. All participants should announce themselves at the start of the call to facilitate documentation. Particularly for larger groups, it’s recommended that call leaders conduct a roll call at the start of the call.
  3. Those who join a call late should announce themselves at the first available opportunity.
  4. Site investigators/committee members unable to participate on a project team or committee call should designate another representative from their site to join the call, and notify the conference call leader in advance if a substitute will be standing in for regular member of a call.
  5. Those unable to participate should review the minutes as soon as possible in order to be aware of decisions and action items. If decisions are documented that are problematic for someone who was not on the call, that individual is urged to contact the call leader promptly.
  6. Those associated with the project are welcome to participate, as appropriate to the agendas or interest in the topics under discussion; provided the call has not been designated as “closed.”
  7. Participants are asked not to conduct side conversations with others on the call, or to monopolize a discussion.
  8. To minimize additional costs, multiple participants from a single site should share speakerphones whenever possible.
  9. If taking the call from a cell phone, participants are urged to find quiet locations, and use the mute feature of the cell phone or conference call system as appropriate (e.g., during airport boarding announcements, while eating lunch, or similar situations). Additionally, if a participant is transitioning from office phone to cell phone or vice versa, s/he should be as unobtrusive as possible when making these transitions.
  10. Call leaders should respect the ending time of calls.
  11. All calls should end with clear plans for next steps.
  12. Minutes or other records of action items and decisions are strongly recommended.