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Conference Call Etiquette


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The curse of every hard working manager. Love or hate them, with geographically dispersed teams and travel restrictions, conference calls are here to stay as a communication medium in the workplace. If you want to stand out from your work colleagues, then follow these simple dos and donts of effective conference calls.

Do get comfortable with the fact you will be talking in front of a group and receiving no visual cues or feedback.

Do use the right phone in a quiet, undisturbed room.

Dont use cell phones or phones that pick up background noise. Calling from an open plan office is the equivalent of having a conversation in a nightclub. If you really cant find a quiet room, use the mute button until you are required to speak.

To avoid a Homer Simpson style Doh moment, do learn to use the mute button and other phone technology. Your intelligent contributions mean nothing if no one can hear them.

Do set up the meeting in advance and communicate the dial in number, passcodes and other information. Spring forward, fall back is something to keep in mind for your timezone crossing colleagues. Dont work out time differences on your fingers check on the internet or even phone a colleague in that country and ask what time it is!

Do start the meeting absolutely on time; dont reward latecomers bad behaviour by waiting for them. Take a role call at the start of the meeting, highlighting the missing attendees. Go on, get tough, people will love you for it!

Do treat the conference call as if it were a meeting. You know the routine; prepare and circulate an agenda, take notes ya-de-ya-de-ya.

Do get each caller to say hello and introduce themselves. Even though you may never meet in person, its a good relationship builder and gets the shyest of people to at least say their name.

Dont assume everyone recognises your voice. Unless you are dis-respecting the boss and want to stay incognito, say your name before you speak. This is particularly important for the poor person taking meeting notes.

Do make use of guest speakers. Invite a special or important guest and get them to say a few words at the beginning of the meeting. No one will know they slipped out after five minutes and youll get the benefit of undivided attention and best behaviour.

Dont allow the topic to wander. Be an iron fist in a velvet glove polite but firm if people talk too long or over each other. If your callers are at home sitting in their pyjamas nursing a hot chocolate, be considerate that all they want is to go to bed and would appreciate rigorous time management.

Do ask for input by using a persons name. People will pay more attention to avoid the embarrassment of needing the question repeated.

Dont shuffle papers; scrape chairs, pencil tap, hum or other distracting, noisy activities. It.drivespeoplemad!

Do close the meeting formally, thanking everybody for their time. That little bit of recognition will make them feel good about talking to you again.

And thats about it. Apart from one very personal tip. Do not sit on a leather chair. Ever. The problem is each time you move around, an embarrassing noise thats at just the right frequency to carry well over the phone is emitted. Either you brazen it out and suffer the comments about your defective digestive system, or sit rigid until the call is over. If you only take one piece of advice make sure its this - do use fabric covered seats!

About the Author

Lyndsay Swinton is an experienced team leader, people manager and  business coach. Her website is - 'Management for the rest of us'.  Subscribe to her free no-nonsense Management Tips newsletter at  today.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2006-06-18 23:55:06 in Computer Articles

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