Reinventing the conference call

Sasha had an interesting post on his blog about how horrible the typical conference call is. I hate them. He had some good tips, but it's still horrible.

So, here's my idea:

Conference calls should be accompanied by an online chat room. (Here's my favorite, it's easy and free for a month). Or try calliflower.

When you put text chat in parallel with a voice conference call, magical things happen.

The first is that everyone participates. If you don't, it's noticeable and you won't be invited back.

Second, the voice part of the call acts as a narrative for the chat part, allowing people to highlight or respond to what's being said.

Most of all, it creates organized, trackable chaos, which was the reason for the meeting in the first place.

Litmus test: is your organization so gutless it won't even try this technique?