Conference calls work wonders for teams that work from different locations or are distributed and do their jobs remotely from anywhere. They are also perfect solutions for meetings that bring together people from many different businesses or organizations when meeting in person in a single place may not be convenient.
However, for each participant to get the most out of conference calls, they can’t be afraid to speak up and engage in the discussion. That’s sometimes easier said than done, though.
If this sounds like you, then have no fear! There are tried and true methods of overcoming any fear or timidness that may be holding you back from making your voice heard and opinion known on calls.
Read on to discover what could work for you.
Learning when and how to speak up during conference calls often starts with confidence boost.
A good place to start when building your confidence is to ask yourself why you care about the work that you do and the organization you do it for. As Harvard Business Review explains, this builds a sense of purpose and the confidence soon follows.
Answering these questions also helps to reinforce your own sense of credibility and to recognize the passion you bring to your job.
Another tip you can easily utilize is to make sure you pause and breathe before you begin to speak. This helps calm your nerves and gives you a brief moment to gather your thoughts.
The person organizing and leading a conference call is not the only one who needs to plan ahead. Participants should also come into the call prepared and practiced on what message they would like to share with everyone else.
Plan ahead and perhaps practice delivering any information or presentation that you are charged with sharing with the rest of the team. If there is another team member whom you work with closely and may be able to help drive the conversation, then consider reaching out to them and asking if they would like to go over in advance what should be shared on the call.
Not sure if you will be asked to provide insight or will need to speak up during the call? Ask yourself what information you have that could be valuable if added to the discussion. Come prepared to speak up and look for opportunities to do so, such as at the end of the call if there is a period where anybody can provide updates.
Above all, though, simply make sure you practice delivering the information. Be sure to get your most important point across first so that it does not get lost in interruptions or other questions.
Have you ever been on a conference call when someone seems to be emphatically delivering a point and are maybe going a little over-the-top on their delivery? Or what about situations when someone timidly shares a tidbit of information? Unfortunately, these are two ways tone can cause others on the phone to tune you out.
That’s why you should always use the appropriate tone and delivery when talking on conference calls - or any other meeting, for that matter.
For example, it’s a good rule of thumb to be pleasant over the phone, speak with plenty of volume (without yelling) and enunciate. Think: friendly and engaging. Forbes recommends practicing speaking ahead of time while recording yourself, then listening to the recording to know whether you are speaking in a way that’s enthusiastic, self-assured and distinct.
Although it is important to participate and prove valuable to your team, nobody on the phone likes to hear one voice over and over again. Learn how much speaking is too much.
Don’t overshare in an attempt to show how much you know about a certain topic. Share your piece and then move on. After that, it’s time to let somebody else speak. Determine what information of value you can actually add to a conversation, speak up - and then stop talking. If anyone has questions or would like to hear more, then leave it up to them to ask you.
Plus, by not hogging the phone and eating up the conference call time, you are allowing others on the call to share with everyone else their knowledge and ask questions of their own. This can be invaluable for developing strong teams that work together well and trust each other.
Finally, if you have a comment that is mostly for a single person, then consider not sharing over the phone. Make a reminder or note to yourself to follow up with that person after the call via email or in a one-on-one conversation.
After the conference call has ended, look for an opportunity to offer to send a wrap-up email. This email should be sent to everyone who was on the call, cover some of the most important topics that were discussed and actions that were taken, as well as provide another way for everyone to ask additional questions.
If someone else is already handling a follow-up email, then you can simply reply to that follow-up with your own questions or just a note thanking everyone for participating in the conference call.
On top of looking for ways to make your opinion known, remember to always practice proper conference call etiquette. This will only help your credibility with others on the line.
Some of the basic etiquette pointers you should follow include calling in on time, using the mute button when you are not speaking, eliminating any multitasking you might be tempted to do, not interrupting others while they are talking and knowing how to operate your conferencing equipment.
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