How Would You Rate Your Current Conference Call Etiquette?
“Good manners: The noise you don’t make when you’re eating soup.”
Etiquette is the grown up friend of good manners. You know your mama taught you not to interrupt, don’t put your elbows on the table, keep your mouth closed when you’re chewing, always say “please” and “thank you” and try to use an “inside” voice when you are in fact indoors. These points are the foundation of good manners best practice for life. But if you have not integrated these teachings, you might be a nightmare to talk to on a business conference call. It’s time to remind ourselves of the basic of Conference Call Etiquette so that our audio conferencing doesn’t require any stern reprimands.
When your remote team is getting together for your virtual meeting, you can bring your conference call etiquette prowess to the fore. Get ready to rock your colleague’s worlds with your obvious audio conference skillset.
Value Everybody’s Time
Exemplify Great Punctuality. You have received and replied to the conference call meeting request. Make sure you keep track of the exact date and time of the call. Your call number pin should be easily accessible so you don’t have a panic attack trying to find it after the call has already started. (Or use the latest audio conference call services that don’t need a pin!)
Set your alarm so you are mentally ready to engage in the discussion at least 30 minutes before the actual call. You want to show up on time and be focused for the conversation. There is nothing more infuriating than latecomers to the table. You can end up wasting precious time when you have to sit and wait for the tardy attendees. You certainly don’t want to be the latecomer who gets called by the moderator because you haven’t shown up for the virtual meeting. You’ll be in the dog house for the whole call.
Test Call Beforehand
Be proactive and call the line a few minutes early to make sure everything is working and you can feel confident that you are ready to contribute because all of your ducks are in a row. Any glitches must be sorted out before the allotted start time. If you can’t manage the technology of the call, you will look unprofessional to the others on the line.
Silent Witnesses Are Creepy
You can’t be a silent eaves dropper on the call. You can’t hang out in the background and let everyone else do the talking. Speak up. Announce yourself so that all of the attendees on the call know who you are and can recognize your voice. You also want to be able to state info about your job title and company that is relevant to the call. Especially if you are on a call with others from different organizations. You might never have met them face-to-face so you must create context with your self-introduction. That’s just good manners.
It’s all about being vocally present. No-one can see you, so your voice has to make up for all of the non-verbal communication the others are missing out on. There could be a lot of people on the call so you have to consider the “sound” you are contributing. You need to speak loudly (not shouting) and clearly. It also helps to speak slightly slower. It takes a lot more effort on your part if you have a soft voice –lean into the speaker and increase your own vocal volume.
Breaking the Sound Barrier
In an ideal world you will be in a quiet indoor area when you dial into an audio conference call, but sometimes life happens. You might end up having to join the call from a busy street or somewhere where noise is a major factor. If this is the case let people know immediately that you are in a noise polluted area and that if it gets too loud or distracting when you talk, they should let you know.
With some conference call services, you are responsible for self-muting and often people don’t know how to do it or forget to activate it. This means that there can be a lot of distracting sounds on the call. Fortunately, there is audio conferencing that comes with automatic muting! When it’s your turn to speak, try to keep the background noise to a minimum –we don’t all love your barking dogs and excitable children as much as you do.
“Oh Tigger, where are your manners?” “I don’t know, but I bet they’re having more fun than I am.”
Some quick points to check about your Conference Call Etiquette:
• Don’t have your breakfast or lunch while on the call. That’s bad manners. We can hear you are chewing with your mouth open and I can bet you’ve got your elbows on the table!
• Stay awake and engaged. Pay attention to the call in hand and leave your emails for later. Asking to repeat the question asked to you is proof that you have drifted off or are doing other work while on the call.
• Don’t wait until the recording of the call is uploaded. Take notes that can be immediately actioned. That way you will be actively participating in the call and forcing yourself to stay present.
• Prepare for the meeting. Do your homework and come ready to ask questions and offer solutions. Have any questions written down so you don’t end up “uhming”.
• Leave the meeting within meeting conversations for offline. You know that moment when two people start talking about an issue that no one else on the call knows anything about –don’t be those people.
• Stay pleasant with a “smile” in your voice throughout. Always say goodbye, don’t just hang up.
How would you rate your own conference call etiquette? Are you guilty of any of the above pitfalls? Give yourself an honest score out of 10 and then aim to rate higher for your next audio conference.
“Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot.”