Picture this: You're participating in a conference call with your coworkers and you speak up. Suddenly, your self-awareness kicks in. You've been rambling.
You think to yourself: Oh, gosh, how long have I been talking? Have I even made my point? Wait. What was my point again?
Been there? You're not alone. It happens to the best of us. Maybe you had a really good idea or had some truly valuable feedback for one of your colleagues.
You just… got a little off track.
Talking too much during conference calls is one of the most common etiquette mistakes made during any kind of meeting, but especially conference calls. In fact, a survey from LoopUp and shared by ZDNet showed conference callers in the US and UK waste on average about 15 minutes per call dealing with distractions or simply trying to get started.
But how do you know if you're talking too much? We've gathered a few pointers to help you decide whether or not what you're saying is adding to the conversation.
That goes for everyone, yourself included. Respect your time and others' while speaking during conference calls.
When you're participating in a conference call, wasted time is lost productivity. This is true of all meetings. Keep in mind that everyone has important work to do once the call ends.
One way to remind yourself to respect everyone's time is to make your point early and ask for feedback often. Make your point early so that you can quickly hand the virtual mic to somebody else.
You also can ask for feedback often while you're speaking. Make your point, ask for feedback and pause. This creates an opportunity for someone else to speak. Just remember to wait long enough for someone else to speak up before you jump in and talk again.
Then again, after you've made your point, ask for feedback. Keep the conversation flowing, but don't monopolize the conference call.
Many rules and etiquette from in-person meetings can be applied to conference calls. Writing for Inc., Richard Moy makes a point that can't be repeated enough:
Do not repeat what your coworker says or ideas they share just for the sake of getting your voice heard. There's no need for you to repeat what your coworker just said unless you're adding something new, providing feedback or requesting clarification.
Moy stresses that this can be an annoyance to your coworkers. It could come across as trying to take credit or at least attach yourself to their work or idea.
Another point from Moy that works just as well for conference calls as it does for meetings in the office is to avoid sharing many personal anecdotes.
Moy notes that teams that share many personal stories or use anecdotes from their life as examples may actually be good teams that enjoy speaking with each other. However, he's also right to add that sharing too many personal stories creates too many chances for you or others to get off topic.
Moy recommends giving everyone in the meeting (or in your case the conference call) a few minutes at the start to catch up. After that time's up, quickly switch to business-related discussions.
Enough said, right? By not interrupting the speaker, and waiting for the right opportunities to speak, you're already taking a great step toward not dominating the conference call.
Of course, this all has to be a two-way street. If someone else is speaking too much, it could be difficult to get a word in edgewise. Still, it's best to wait your turn to make you point.
Even better, pick a conference call service that comes with some sort of messaging feature. If you've got a question to ask or a point to make, that's a good way to alert the call organizer or anyone else interacting with the call via a web interface.
It's also a good idea to give the person speaking a little more time when they pause before you decide to speak up. While on conference calls, you unfortunately miss out visual cues that signal when someone is done talking. Give them some space to make sure they're actually done talking, not just gathering their thoughts.
It may sometimes be necessary for someone on the conference call to cover a lot of ground and it could seem like they're dominating the conversation.
If you're the one doing the talking, then there are certain useful cues that can signal whether you've made your point and can move on. Someone who keeps interrupting you, cuts you off or abruptly moves the conversation onto the next topic on the agenda, could be trying to say it's time to move on.
Or, they could just be a serial interrupter. They likely haven't read this post yet.
But if it sounds like someone is trying to get a word in, they may sincerely be trying to add something to the conversation. Try letting that person share their idea or feedback and see if they stop interrupting after they've shared what's on their mind.
To make the most out of your conference call, be sure to select the right service that fits your team's needs. Consider all the features that are included that can help make your conference calls productive, efficient and easy to participate in for everyone on the line.
With ConferenceTown.com, you can sign up and begin hosting conference calls with a wide selection of features - all free.
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All you have to do to get started with ConferenceTown.com is sign up.
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