The conference call is a wonderful tool for multitasking and collaborating long-distance. Like any aspect of corporate culture, there are rules of etiquette that should be followed.
What you should and should not do during a conference call is not always obvious. Read on and learn everything you need to know about the art of the conference call.
Conference calls should always be taken in a quiet, private location. Remember that there are at least two sides to the call – sometimes more – and that means background music, chatter, traffic, crying babies and other noise will be picked up and broadcast to everyone.
When you are not speaking, the best thing to do is mute your phone. Then, when you need to say something, simply unmute the phone. It is common courtesy to make sure everyone can hear the call clearly.
Do not be afraid to speak up if another caller has noise coming through. Simply ask if she could relocate to a quieter location or remove the source of the sound.
Talking with your mouth full is impolite. What’s worse is chewing during a conference call. It is extremely rude as well as disruptive to the other participants. Even if you try to chew quietly, the phone will pick up the noise and everyone will hear you chomping away.
Avoid arranging a conference call during lunch time; if that’s not possible, then make arrangements to eat before or after.
Pay attention! There is nothing more embarrassing than being asked a question when you have not been paying attention – especially if you are speaking to an important client or your boss. Not only embarrassing, it can also reflect negatively on you – not to mention your company.
So while it can be tempting to read email or surf the internet while on a conference call, it’s better for you to stay alert and listen to the conversation.
Call in to the meeting a few minutes early. Just like in-person meetings, tardiness is disruptive and unprofessional.
Phone in early and be prepared to participate. That way, the call can start on time and you will not be the reason for any delays.
Before the call even begins, ensure that the phone you are calling from works and provide quality sound. The easiest method to improve sound quality is use a quality headset or speakerphone.
Cell phones should only be used in static locations where you know service is perfect – being in motion or in a poorly covered area could create static or even drop your call.
Identify yourself. When you enter the conference call, state your name – if someone else is speaking, be sure to let them finish.
It is also a good rule of thumb to identify yourself before you begin speaking, too. Not everyone will know the voices of others, especially over the phone – and if you have not met some of the others in person, it is even more difficult to distinguish who is speaking.
By saying your name, you are ensuring that everyone knows exactly who you are. Often, there is someone on the call taking notes and you want to make sure they get your name.
It is also good to identify a speaker by name if you are asking them a question directly.
If their attention is dwindling, hearing their name will bring them back into the call. They will know what you had to ask without asking for the question to be repeated.
Always be courteous on a conference call.
Make sure you thank the others for their time, pay attention to what is going on, and contribute an appropriate amount. While it may be easy to forget that conference calls are meetings over the phone, the same rules of courtesy apply as if you were meeting in person.