Conference call etiquette: 10 tips for having pleasant and productive meetings
Kerri Garbis, President and Co-Founder of Ovation Communication, claims that we are losing half of our communication skills when we aren’t meeting face-to-face. And he may very well be right. We have all been there. You prepare for a productive conference call, but there is that one colleague who constantly interrupts. Or you get stuck in a meeting because someone is always late. Read our 10 useful tips for better conference call etiquette.
# 1 Always introduce yourself
It may seem obvious, but introducing yourself is a necessary step that shouldn’t be overlooked. Remember, meetings are basically human conversations as you know them from day-to-day life. People need to know who they are listening to. When the call starts, say hello and introduce yourself. It shouldn’t be a 10 minutes long monologue, just mention your name, position and maybe, if you are one of the main speakers, what is your role in the particular conference call.
If you are the organizer of the meeting, you can introduce participants yourself to save some time.
At the end of the call, leave with a goodbye. The organizer should thank attendees for their participation – this, again, may seem obvious, but sometimes can be forgotten.
# 2 Don’t be late
Again, maybe an obvious rule. But sometimes, the phrase “don’t be late” is easier to say than to put into practice.
There are very few things worse than being the reason why the conference call is held up. Make sure to set up a calendar reminder, so that you don’t forget the call. Also, organize your day accordingly.
If you know beforehand that you’re going to be late for the call, let the organizer know and try to join the meeting without grabbing the attention of others. In this case, forget the previous rule about introducing yourself immediately. You don’t want to be the reason why the speaker loses focus. It’s better to wait, for example, until you are given a word or maybe until the organizer introduces you when the right time occurs.
# 3 Don’t interrupt
Not paying enough attention to speakers can cause an inconvenient situation – to you, as well as to your colleagues. Instead of thinking about what you are going to say, stay in the moment and simply listen. That way you won’t have to ask the speaker to repeat himself and interrupt the speech.
If you have any additional questions or inputs, it is a good idea to keep them for a Q&A session. Just once again, make sure they weren’t already mentioned during the meeting.
Another important insight – alway mute your microphone when you currently don’t have the word. It eliminates potential disturbing background noise. Also, we don’t recommend drinking or eating during the conference call.
# 4 Do your best to prevent technical difficulties
“Sorry, my camera doesn’t work. Also, I cannot hear you.” At some point, we all met with these issues. There are many unavoidable technical problems that can occur unexpectedly during a conference call. Most of the time, it is not your fault. However, it is your responsibility to fix the bugs before the call.
You should always log in a few minutes earlier and check whether everything works fine. Does the camera operate? Is your microphone functional? Do you have the right dial-in number and PIN? Are there any problems with shared screen apps?
The best way to eliminate these issues as much as possible is to choose the right platform. Such as our CloudTalk software solution that ensures crystal clear calls with no jitter or latency.
# 5 Check your internet connection beforehand
The way we do business today has changed from office times. Now, we can work remotely from wherever in the world. Therefore, stable internet connection became a must-have aspect of each conference call that is held online. Poor connection can cause a variety of difficulties. Such as inability to connect to a meeting or constant drop calls.
Always make sure that you are in a location where the internet coverage is stable. Otherwise you can lose all the important insights and information, not mentioning your good professional reputation. Missing the conference call or constantly dropping out can seem extremely unprofessional. Mainly in case when you are the organiser of the call.
# 6 Turn your camera on
Have you ever encountered a pre-recorded video interview where you stare at yourself, talking to no-one? That is more or less the same feeling your colleagues have during the call, while looking at your talking profile picture.
A lack of mimics and body language also lacks emotion, which subconsciously causes a barrier between you and the rest of attendees. Seeing each other, even if only on the screen, supports the team spirit.
Without looking at you directly, others may also be confused about who is speaking. So, don’t hesitate to show your face and turn on your camera.
# 7 Stick to the agenda and prepare in advance
Don’t confuse conference calls with informal chill-out meetings. Make the most of them, in the end, all success needs preparation. Avoid potential embarrassing silence by making sure you are familiar with all agenda points. Prepare for the discussion and study all materials in advance. If you already know that you have questions, write them down and ask them when you are given the opportunity.
Another important point – don’t be selfish by taking all the time of an original agenda with a single topic. If you really want to discuss something and you think the person will need some time to respond, e.g. because they need to find the information in a database or email, inform them about your question in advance. You may also consider scheduling a separate meeting to discuss specifically that issue.
# 8 Choose the right form of communication
The main point of a conference call is to hand people important insights and information, for whatever purpose it may be. Speak loudly and clearly. Put an effort into proper articulation.
Don’t speak too fast or for too long, otherwise your colleagues might get lost in your words. Use short sentences and pause between ideas to give attendees time to process what they have just heard. And mainly, learn when to speak and when not to speak. Give space to others and let them finish before you react. You wouldn’t like being spoken over either.
If you are addressing a specific person, use their name to make sure they know that the question is directed at them. For example: “Martin, could you tell us what methodology was used for data analysis?”
# 9 Sit up straight
Straight posture is a very important aspect of conference calls. There are two main reasons why.
First reason stands on a research of Dianna Booher, an author of a book Communicate as a Leader. She made a series of tests where one person stands straight and the other sits, crouching. Audience, while not seeing the subjects, can always tell a difference in their posture, simply by hearing them. People with straight posture sound more positive, confident and energetic. Dianna Booher says that you can always feel a smile.
The second reason is strongly related to the first one. If you sit or stand straight, you tend to speak louder and clearer. It allows you to use the full potential of your vocal cords. So, next time you will have an important call, don’t forget to straighten up.
# 10 Don’t underestimate wrap-up
If you are an organizer of the conference call, once the meeting is over, summarize the information and create space for additional questions. Make clear what follow-up stepsare going to be. For example, you can send an email to attendees, summarizing the main points of the call.
And here is our summary of the 10 most important etiquette tips:
# 1 Always introduce yourself – if no one knows you, no one notices you.
# 2 Don’t be late – There is no better way to show your ignorance than not being on time.
# 3 Don’t interrupt – No matter what is ahead of you, always listen. Don’t make speakers repeat themselves. And always mute the audio while not talking.
# 4 Eliminate a chance for technical issues – Though you can’t always avoid them, you may notice them in time. Join the conference call sooner. Give yourself a chance to fix the bugs.
# 5 Check your internet connection beforehand – Without stable internet, there is no online call. Always make sure your connection is good enough.
# 6 Turn your camera on – No one enjoys talking to a profile picture.
# 7 Stick to the agenda and prepare in advance – Always make sure that you know what you have to say and that you understand what others are sharing. Schedule longer topics for separate meetings.
# 8 Choose the right form of communication – Speak slowly, loudly and clearly. Use short, easy-to-understand sentences. Learn when to speak and when to listen.
# 9 Sit up straight – Your body language tells more than you think. People can always sense a smile.
# 10 Don’t underestimate wrap-up – What you say is important, but not in case no one remembers. This one helped you as well, didn’t it?
And what if you have just realized that you may occasionally be breaking some rules of etiquette? Don’t worry. We all learn. Next time, you will know just exactly what to do.
If this article made you think of someone who may have a use of our tips, go ahead and share the link.