With the world becoming smaller due to the digital era that we live in, and with many meetings, conferences and workshops taking place online or via conference calling, it can be a bit challenging to connect with people intimately.
Cultures, time-zones and language barriers are just a few of the challenges that you may face when having to conference call with someone, especially if you have never met with them before.
Also, conference call etiquette is entirely different to general phone call etiquette, especially when it is related to business.
Nonetheless, there are a few universal rules that will go a long way in showing respect and being polite to the person on the other side of the phone.
Here are the 5 Unspoken Rules of Conference Calling:
This is an obvious one, but many people forget that conference calls sometimes require setup and dialling in time. If you are using video and a screen and need to set things up, start 30 minutes before so that there is time to fix up any technical difficulties that you may face. Time is money and punctuality displays discipline. Before arranging the call, find out the location and time zone of all the individuals participating and make sure that the time is convenient for all. Be sure that you know how to negotiate the platform that you will be using; Skype, Zoom, Slack on the many other applications out there. If you haven’t used it before, test it out a day before to get familiar with it.
Just like an ordinary phone call, the polite and most basic way to start is to greet and announce yourself and possibly introduce others. Some conference call attendees will try lurk at the back and try to keep mum. Before getting down to business, everyone should know who they are talking to and what their role in the discussion is going to be. This point is often overlooked because attendees feel that because they can’t be seen, they don’t need to be heard either.
3. Keep it Mute:
The mute button, as hard as it may be to believe, has a purpose. Even in the quietest of offices, there is background noise. When you aren’t talking, mute the microphone so that everyone can hear clearly and that any sounds from your side don’t disrupt the call.
For some unknown reason, conference calls are sometimes taken lighter than face to face meetings. Just because you can’t see a person, doesn’t mean that they don’t know that you are ill prepared. Have notes and questions jotted down beforehand and take notes throughout the call so that you may reference those points later. You don’t want to be at a loss for words and hemming and peppering in a lot of “uh’s” when everyone is waiting for you to speak.
5. Be pleasant:
With only your voice to relay your thoughts, feelings, and inputs; it can be quite easy to get carried away and raise your voice in the moment. Remember that the person on the other side can only gauge your behaviour by your voice; you may just be showing passion, but to them, it can come across as rude. Keep your tone down while being assertive, and be respectful throughout the call, even when disagreeing on something. Just like you would when meeting someone faces to face, say goodbye politely and end the call on amicable terms.
When it comes to conference calls, there’s only so much you can do to make a good impression.
With the prep work and basic etiquette discussed above, you can show that you’re polished, respectful and genuinely interested in the call. These minor things will stand out to your business counterparts and investors, and it takes minimal effort on your part.