Conference Call Etiquette
The importance of obeying conference call etiquette should not be underestimated. Without it, the key aims of the business meeting you have spent days preparing for could be lost amid a conversation with no flow or structure. Poor conference calls ultimately cost a company lost income and often prove to be extremely time consuming.
To avoid any embarrassing mishaps and ensure that your next conference call staged passes off without incident, follow these guidelines.
Have a structure to the call
Setting an agenda beforehand will give the meeting a clear structure and purpose, and everybody set to be involved in a conference call should be emailed a copy of this agenda in order for them to prepare relevant discussion notes. The agenda should also include all the relevant phone numbers, passwords, access codes and clear instructions on how to dial in, even if this means stating the obvious. Be mindful of time differences if it is an international call and factor this into the planning stage to ensure people know the correct start times. When the call gets under way, one person should take it upon themselves to formally start and finish proceedings, as well as invite the people involved to introduce themselves one at a time.
Be punctual and polite
Make a good impression by being on time and being courteous at all times, just as you would in a traditional face-to-face meeting. Joining a call late may mean you miss out on some vital information and that will not reflect well on you or your business. Almost as important as being on time is making sure you stay on the line until the very end of the call, as a failure to do so could lead to being absent during a critical part of the meeting.
Keep numbers to a minimum
While it may be tempting to get many of your work colleagues involved in a conference call, only invite the relevant people to keep it as straightforward as possible. Another handy tip is to inform colleagues when a call is going to take place, so as to avoid being interrupted and to keep privacy and client confidentiality paramount.
Plan what you want to say
Never go into a conference call without having done a certain amount of preparation in terms of what you want to say and how best to do so in a clear and concise manner. Have any relevant notes clearly laid out in front of you to avoid having to rustle through a pile of paperwork as that could be disruptive and distracting. On the subject of noise, be sure to avoid any noisy habits that can commonly creep into meetings, such as tapping your fingers on the table or messing about with stationary.
Stay on topic and pay attention
Focus all your attention fully on the task in hand and resist the temptation of fidgeting with your laptop or mobile phone while other people are speaking. Be assertive when it is your turn to speak and try not to talk over and interrupt others when they speak. Instead, be patient.
The concluding stages of a call should include a clear outline of how issues raised over the course of the meeting are to be resolved and by whom. A conference call that ends with a clear set of points raised and goals to be achieved will feel far more satisfying than one that grinds to an inconclusive halt.