Dial it up – conference calling etiquette

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.

It’s 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 you’re 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 someone’s kids were screaming in the background? I have. Have you ever been on a call where the other person’s 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 couldn’t concentrate? I have. And I don’t think I’m the only one.

It seems that even though, or perhaps because, conference calls are getting more and more common, people don’t take them as seriously as they should. In a “normal” meeting, do these things happen as often? When you’re face to face with someone, do you really speak like that?

Here are some simple tips to make sure you don’t push people’s buttons when you’re 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. There’s nothing worse than listening to someone do a demo when you can’t see what they’re talking about.
  • Prepare or read presentation slides beforehand to prepare questions and comments.
  • Make sure you know the time based on everyone’s 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 you’re out on the road or away from your computer.
  • Know how to mute and unmute your phone so that you don’t 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. It’s 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 can’t see you chewing on your pencil or leaning your chin on your hand, it makes you sound different, if not odd, when you’re speaking.
  • Imagine that you are speaking to someone who is physically in front of you to help you speak properly and loudly.
  • Don’t eat while you’re on the call – even if you’re not the one talking, you never know when you’ll be addressed or when you’ll 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 you’re 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.

 

Don’t hesitate to tell me what you would add, or to share some funny conference call experiences. And while you’re 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.

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About the author

Tara S. Kerpelman

Multimedia journalist specializing in health & science working in branding, communications and interactive marketing.