Its not uncommon to be on conference calls these days. What with the economy making business trips for short meetings a thing of the past, and new technologies with video conferencing making talking to one another not in person more like youre face to face, we have come to a time when conference calls have become an important, if not crucial, part of any organization or company, especially whilst conducting business globally.
Have you ever been on a conference call where someone was snoring? I have. Have you ever been on a call where someones kids were screaming in the background? I have. Have you ever been on a call where the other persons accent was very difficult to understand, you couldn't hear them properly, and there was so much background noise both on their line and in your office that you couldnt concentrate? I have. And I dont think Im the only one.
It seems that even though, or perhaps because, conference calls are getting more and more common, people dont take them as seriously as they should. In a normal meeting, do these things happen as often? When youre face to face with someone, do you really speak like that?
Here are some simple tips to make sure you dont push peoples buttons when youre on the line (or how to be professional about conference calling):
- Try any links that are sent to you for screen sharing well before your call to make sure you have all the necessary software on your computer. Theres nothing worse than listening to someone do a demo when you cant see what theyre talking about.
- Prepare or read presentation slides beforehand to prepare questions and comments.
- Make sure you know the time based on everyones timezone. Take into account that other participants may live in another area.
- Have access codes and call-in numbers with you if you are joining when youre out on the road or away from your computer.
- Know how to mute and unmute your phone so that you dont bother people with background sounds.
- Make sure you know whether your camera, mic or screen sharing program is on or off to avoid embarrassing and unprofessional situations.
- Talk from an environment that is as calm and quiet as possible so you can concentrate on what is being said. Its always easier to be distracted when the person speaking is not visually there with you.
- Turn off the sound on your cell phone and move it away from your conference call phone to avoid signal sounds on the call.
- Enunciate and keep your hands, pens and pencils away from your mouth when you are speaking even if they cant see you chewing on your pencil or leaning your chin on your hand, it makes you sound different, if not odd, when youre speaking.
- Imagine that you are speaking to someone who is physically in front of you to help you speak properly and loudly.
- Dont eat while youre on the call even if youre not the one talking, you never know when youll be addressed or when youll have to answer a question.
- Let everyone know who you are when you speak even if you have met the people on the call, they might not remember your voice.
- If youre running the call, introduce participants, make the call interactive by including other people in the conversation if possible, and keep the call on the right track.
These are simply a few key points to help you improve your conference calling skills, making you a better professional and more enjoyable colleague to work/meet with on the phone.
Dont hesitate to tell me what you would add, or to share some funny conference call experiences. And while youre at it, why not send this list out to your coworkers?
This is Tara Kerpelman from blue-infinity. Thanks for having joined the call today.