I have worked for large company for several years and have been on more conference calls, tele-seminars, and tele-training calls than I can remember. Those experiences have led me to develop a list of “Conference Call Tips and Etiquette” that can help make conference calls more pleasant, run smoother, and help avoid embarrassment. I’m sure the list I’ve put together isn’t all inclusive but it does cover the major things I have experienced or learned about during the course of all those calls I’ve been on.
Find a quiet place. Background noise will be heard on the call and it can be very distracting to other participants. If you are at home and have small children playing nearby or have a noisy dog, try to find the quietest part of your house. The other participants on the call will appreciate it. If it is not possible to be away from the noise, mute your phone whenever you are not talking. Pressing *6 will mute most phones.
Avoid Using A Cell Phone. Try to avoid calling into a conference call from a cell phone whenever possible. Cell phones add tremendous background noise to a conference call. If a cell phone is your only choice, muting the cell phone is a necessity whenever you are not speaking. Also, make sure you are not driving when you are on you the call.
Be on time for the call. Don’t get on the call late and expect someone to catch you up with what is going on while everyone else waits. It is rude and disrespectful to the other participants to not be on time. It gives them the impression that your time is more important than theirs.
Don’t Use The Hold Button. Do not put the conference call on hold if your phone has hold music or those annoying beeps that sound every few seconds. To say it is a huge interruption and distraction for everyone else on the call is an understatement. I was once on a conference call for training on a new software product our company was introducing. Someone else put the call on hold for nearly 20 minutes and we ended up listening to her hold music for the entire time. If you have to leave a conference call for any period of time, hang up the phone and call back in when you are ready to rejoin.
Be Cautious With Cordless Phones. If you are joining a conference call from a cordless phone make sure the phone does not have a lot of static background noise. Usually static background noise starts when you start to get out of range of the phone base or is you get near another device that interferes with phone such as some small electric appliances and answering machines.
Avoid Shuffling Papers. One very annoying thing that some people do on a conference call is shuffle papers. It sounds very loud on the phone. Other small potentially noisy habits to avoid are : continually clearing your throat, tapping your pencil, drumming your fingers on the desk, etc.
Be Aware Of Whether Or Not Your Phone Is On Mute. If you do put your phone on mute while on a conference call, and it is always a good idea to do so whenever you are not talking, remember to take it back off mute when you talk. Likewise remember to put it back on mute when you are finished. Nearly everyone who has been on conference calls regularly can recount at least one memory of someone forgetting to put their phone back on mute and then saying something that was definitely not intended for the ears of the other conference call participants, such as a negative remark about something relating to the call or another person on the call.
Be Polite. Do not try to talk over another person on the call even if you feel you have a very important point to cover. It is in bad taste to do so and will result in everyone else on the call not being able to understand what you or the other person is saying. Be patient; wait until the other person has finished; and then talk.
Following the above tips can help make conference calls more successful, and more importantly, take up the least amount of time possible so you can get to 1,000 other tasks you have to accomplish like taking a time management course! But that’s another story.