Top tips for conference call etiquette

Have you ever been one of the first to turn up for a party where you don’t know many other people apart from the hosts? Once a drink has been thrust into your hand, you’re left to try and make stilted conversation as no-one ever knows quite when to speak or what to say – well conference calling can be a lot like that.

Apart from having a drink thrust into your hand…

But it doesn’t have to be – simply follow our three top tips below for proper conference call etiquette.

But first…

Why is conference call etiquette important?

If you’re distracted on a call, there’s a good chance you’ll miss vital details and need to get them repeated to you at some point. This will interfere with the agenda and the call may overrun or might not cover everything that was intended.

When on a conference call, you don’t have the physical cues of an in-person meeting, so you need to observe proper conference call etiquette to make sure the call goes as planned.

Three tips for conference call etiquette

1. Be on time

If you’re late for a meeting, you feel obliged to do that apologetic, slightly hunched walk as you enter the room, all the while looking for an inconspicuous place to sit where you can clatter around getting your papers ready further disrupting the meeting.

Being late for a meeting i pretty bad form and won’t endear you to anyone, and the same is true for a conference call – you may not have to put up with the disapproving stares but you’ll still feel the brow-beating if you click into the conference part way through the call.

And while it’s up to you to make sure you’re not late, if you’re chairing the meeting you can do your bit to minimize disruption, for instance, use a conference call provider that offers free SMS reminders 15 minutes before the conference starts and then let participants know that if they are going to be late, then join the conference in 5 minute increments from the start time – this is a good way to minimize disruptions.

2. Be prepared

Unfortunately, many people don’t treat conference call meetings as seriously as their face-to-face boardroom equivalents and so may not prepare quite as thoroughly as they should do and may even use the call as an opportunity to extend their lunch break.

Conference calls are a convenient and cost-effective way to get people together to discuss important business matters and so they should be treated with the same level of importance as any other meeting – this means preparing as you would for a face-to-face meeting, paying attention and not stuffing your face while discussing strategies.

3. Be aware of the mute button

Although you can’t see the other people involved in a conference call, this doesn’t mean that you can’t hear everything everyone is doing – those receivers can be pretty sensitive.

So if you are going to be doing other things while on the conference call, such as typing, taking notes or sorting other business matters (not eating!) then make sure you hit the mute button so that everyone else doesn’t hear the click-clacking of your keyboard or you shouting out instructions to other office workers.

However, it’s important to keep paying attention to the call and remember to unmute the phone when it’s your turn to talk!

Here are an extra 7 top tips in this short video.

What are the do’s and don’ts of a conference call?

To make the most of your conference call, keep the following in mind:

  • Do arrive on time
  • Do come prepared with all supporting notes and any questions
  • Do announce yourself before speaking
  • Do use the mute button when you’re not speaking
  • Don’t forget the login details
  • Don’t talk over other people
  • Don’t call from a noisy place
  • Don’t do other things that could distract you while on the call