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Etiquette during conference calls and other untraditional meeting environments

Updated: Apr 2, 2020

Conference Calls

Conference calls can be awkward, not being able to see people you are talking to, noises on the line, having no nonverbal cues to rely on, like facial expressions etc can make it difficult to communicate effectively.

Here are some etiquette tips to keep in mind:

Fix technical problems before the call. Dropping a call can be annoying especially if you are having a conversation with a number of people in different locations. Make sure your phone system is working perfectly before you dial into a conference call. You will appear unprofessional if you cannot manage your companies logistics. Perhaps ask your network providers to enhance your system by providing HD voice, this will improve the voice quality of your conversations, and it will eliminate static that plagues conference calls.

The ideal conference call should take place indoors in a quiet area. But if for some reason you are on the run you may have to dial into a conference call from a location with background noise. Just in case they think there is some problem with their phone system or you are just being disrespectful, best be upfront, apologise , and explain for example you are near traffic or in a busy airport terminal, and ask them to let you know if the interference gets too bad.

If you are chairing a conference call, it is a good idea to send out a google calendar invite to all participants so that everyone can get a sense of who is coming, along with the time, the date, and the estimated duration of the call. It is common courtesy that translates into solid conference call etiquette.

Always introduce yourself or be introduced by someone. This is vital for a conference call to unfold without confusion, if it is unclear who is speaking. If someone else introduces you, at least say “Good morning, or good afternoon, or just Hi, so the other participants can hear what your voice sounds like.

Always try and speak loudly and clearly. When you speak, slow down the rhythm of your speech, take pauses and speak loudly into the speakerphone. If you have a soft voice sit as close to the phone as you can, to ensure that you are heard clearly. Long pauses and silence can sometimes lead to confusion, the other side may assume technical difficulties, or that you are unresponsive. If a situation arises where you need to perhaps, find a file or pull up an email, explain what you are doing…eg I am just logging in to my email to check that for you…. Narrate the sequence of events. Let me think on that for a second… these types of skillful management shows that you have strong conference call etiquette.

If you are in a meeting with a large group of people and you and another participant are dominating the discussion with a lengthy topic that is not relevant to anyone else in the group, it is a waste of the other participant’s time. Ask that person to have a follow up call with you after the conference call is over.

At the end of a conference call, outline what was accomplished during the meeting, what steps need to be taken and schedule another conference call if necessary.

Follow up on any promises you made during a conference call, email people who need to be emailed and any other outstanding items that need to be completed.

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