Sending follow up emails after conference calls is a natural step that comes with such meetings. It is a process that is aimed at furthering the agendas of that conference meeting and the things that were discussed. Follow-ups may be a mundane task, but that should not mean that the follow up emails cannot be more elaborate, well thought out and effective in getting the most out of a conference meeting.
Conference calls are known to be great tools for remote teams, and the subject of taking better notes from such calls has already been tackled in a previous post. Sending better follow up emails should thus come as a progression towards getting the most out of any conference call. Here are eight steps that are will help you ensure that you send better if not the best follow up emails after conference calls:
1. Follow up within a reasonable time
The first thing that you should do to ensure you send better follow up emails is to make sure that you are sending the follow-ups within a reasonable time after the conference call. You want to catch your team and other people who attended the call at a time when the conference details are still fresh in all your minds. That way, it will not be an uphill task trying to recap to them what was said and discussed.
Unless there are some issues that may require more time, the first 24-48hrs after the conference call are the most appropriate times to send follow up emails. Sending emails within that time improves greatly on reception and response.
2. Address the emails correctly
It will be quite embarrassing, not to mention a waste of time, when an email is wrongly addressed thus ending up in the wrong hands. This is a very important step, and should actually be number one if you want to send better follow-ups and all other mail in general. For the best outcomes, correctly addressing the emails should go further and involve correctly addressing the recipient, preferably by name and title.
Project management software contacts management helps in ensuring the correct email addresses are used. The more involved applications keep a comprehensive list of contacts that make it easy to know who you are addressing, their titles, and positions. For better follow-ups, address each person directly and avoid sending mass follow up emails.
3. Refer to an easily identifiable subject line
The follow up is for the conference call you had, and making that clear on the subject line will have a big impact on how the email is received and acted upon. Analysis shows that there is more to subject lines and how they get an email opened or not. Depending on what exactly you are following up from that meeting, ensure that it is clued on or hinted at in the subject of your email.
You could wish to have a different subject line for each person you are sending the follow up email to, which is way better than a general subject for everyone. If that is the case then it can be achieved easily, even when dealing with a huge number of participants, using project management software.
4. Briefly write an introduction that serves to remind
In the body of the email, introducing the follow up with a bit of a recap on the conference call and the main points that were discussed will be better than just delving straight into the purposes for that follow up.
In the same breath, thank the person for attending or for being part of the conference call and for their contribution in both time and ideas. Some people tend to not read their emails past the first paragraph when that mail appears to be a general thing, so make sure you sound like you are talking to the individual and not a large audience.
5. Declare the purpose of that follow up email
Once your introduction gets their attention, ensure you unequivocally state the intentions of the follow up email immediately after. This is where you spell out the reason or purpose of the follow up email.
You could be following up on specific issues that regard the individual or those that concern the whole team. Making both of these intentions known clearly avoids confusion and that common response to general requests in teams, where each member assumes the other one is going to do it.
6. Spell out specific actions that need to be done
In any follow up, it is always best to avoid ambiguity in the responses that you require. Unless your follow up emails after the conference call are just a formality of ensuring everyone has a copy of what went down; in which case no specific response will be required, you will have to be specific on the actions you require from those whom you send the follow up emails.
Better follow up emails after that conference call are going to be those that elicit a response, even if it is just to confirm reception. If you want a more specific response then state it clearly and give the time frame in which that response will be required.
7. Check against mistakes on spelling and grammar
Maintaining a level of professionalism is vital in sending better emails and therefore small mistakes of grammar and typos will just not cut it for those follow up emails. These little mistakes can on a best case scenario undermine your authority before your team or correspondents, and in the worst cases, completely distort the message that you are trying to pass along.
It will take you less time checking for mistakes than it took you to write that email, and therefore if you want to remain professional and authoritative, don’t fail to do it. Good software that handles business emails comes with tools that can check the mistakes for you, so no reason not to take advantage of that.
8. Attach additional information and documents
Emails with additional information on matters that were addressed during the conference call and attachments of relevant documents, including anything that was requested for will certainly make better follow ups. This is in fact one reason why email applications that can handle bulk attachments are invaluable for a project/team manager.
The additional information you provide will serve to clarify, emphasize and prop up any issue that was not exhaustively dealt with during the conference call. If you have any such information or other resources that are relevant to what was discussed, it will be best to attach and refer to it in the follow up email to your teams, clients and everyone else who was a relevant party to that conference call.
Image: Joe The Goat Farmer