Conference calls are an amazing technology. It allows us the flexibility to work from anywhere. For many of us, this has both impacted and improved our everyday lives.
Need to drop off the kids at school? No problem--take your first conference call from a nearby coffee shop. Dentist only open from midday? Just schedule your meetings around your appointment.
In fact, conference calls save companies 30% in travel costs. They're also the preferred method of communication for the majority of office workers.
Sounds perfect, right? Well, except that some of your coworkers still haven't figured out how to conference call.
Read on to find out the do's and don'ts when you're on a conference call.
We all have those coworkers that we dread having conference calls with.
While it may be a bit passive aggressive to send them this article, feel free to print it out and post it around the office. Hopefully, they'll get the hint!
This isn't like a meeting in your office where you can slide in quietly with minimal disruptions.
When you're added to the call, most conference call software announces your arrival with a beep. At the very least, this is distracting to the speaker.
It's amazing how many people who are otherwise competent sit down to a conference call and have no idea how to log in.
Depending on your call setup, the login info is either in the meeting invite email or you have a separate login. Keep these details in a notepad on your phone so you can quickly check them and join the call.
If you know how to make regular calls, then making conference calls shouldn't be a stretch. However, if you aren't familiar with the software, learn how to use it beforehand so you're not scrambling during the call.
The other technology you need to learn how to use? The mute button.
How annoying is it to hear someone chew or sneeze through an entire call? Other sounds like traffic or dogs barking are distracting for everyone.
Use the mute feature to keep all external noise away from your call. But also remember that you need to turn mute off when you're speaking. Please don't be that person who says, "Oh sorry, I was talking but my phone was on mute."
We know you're busy and some conference calls drag on forever. But taking another call while you're on a conference call is just plain rude.
At best, no one will notice and one of your colleagues can update you on anything you missed. At worst, someone will ask you a question--only to find you're not answering.
Some conference call software or phone hardware also plays music when calls are put on hold. Not only will everyone know that someone has the call on hold, you've effectively prevented them from doing their work.
Always announce yourself before you start speaking.
It doesn't need to be a long-winded introduction. Something like, "Sara here, I think we should..." should do the trick.
When you're on calls with clients or colleagues who have never met you in person, announcing yourself helps the conversation flow. The only exception to this rule is if you're on a call with your immediate team members--they already know who you are.
Slang and abbreviations should be avoided in the workplace in general, but you need to avoid them all together during conference calls.
We can't help but cringe every time Human Resources tells us, "Get back to me ASAP!" But in a conference call, these terms make it hard for other people to understand what you're saying.
Think about how your brain processes language. You use a combination of knowledge and context to decipher what people are saying to you. Over a conference call, context becomes vocal only and abbreviations can confuse your speakers.
On international conference calls, not only should you avoid slang and abbreviations but idioms as well. Telling your overseas team that they need to "get the ball rolling" adds unnecessary confusion to your meeting.
When your colleagues can't see you, it's very easy to get distracted from your conference call. Maybe your partner is messaging you about dinner or your friends want to know what you're doing over the weekend.
You need to ignore these messages for the time being. You never want to be in a situation where you can't answer when called upon because you haven't been listening. It's embarrassing for you and irritating for everyone else.
If you're the person running the meeting, make sure it stays productive and on topic. A good way to do this is to write out an agenda for the meeting. Email it to the participants ahead of time or share it with them at the beginning of the call.
This may seem like an obvious rule, but it's surprisingly hard to follow.
When you can't see the other participants, there's no real way to know when someone wants to speak. If you wait until called on, you may not be able to participate effectively.
When you're first starting out, it's guaranteed that you will accidentally speak over your coworkers. Always offer to let them go first and then everyone will expect your comment afterward.
Now that you know how to conference call like a pro, you're ready to improve your conference call skills.
Besides convenience, one of the best things about conference calls is that it creates a level playing field. It can be intimidating to speak to your boss or other senior colleagues face-to-face with all eyes on you. With a conference call, it's much easier to give your candid opinions without feeling nervous.
At ConferenceTown, we're changing the game when it comes to conference call software. We offer free call recording, no time limits and can host an unlimited number of participants.
Click here to create a free account and get started right away.
ConferenceTown.com provides the highest quality, feature packed audio conferencing for free. There are no hidden fees. Our system can handle both small and large conference calls. When quality is what matters, there's just one choice.