A guide to conference calling etiquette

A guide to conference calling etiquette (image credit: Thinkstock/iStock)

At Buzz Conferencing, we're often talking about the benefits of conference calling. It can be more productive and cost-effective than meeting with clients or colleagues face to face.

There are many reasons why this is the case, but it goes without saying that a conference call is quite a different way of carrying out business than the traditional means. It is important to bear this in mind when conducting yourself during this form of communication. 

As with most things in life, there are unspoken rules you should adhere to in order to make the job at hand easier for yourself and other participants, and certain behaviour is expected of you that you might not automatically spring to mind if you have never taken part in a conference call before. 

Here are some examples of the etiquette you may like to consider.

Don't be late

Whereas this is an obvious point to take into account as far as any meeting is concerned, the reason we've decided to highlight it here is because it's arguably much easier to forget about a conference call than it is a regular get-together.

This is because unlike face-to-face gatherings, you don't have to leave your desk to get to a teleconference, therefore it's more likely you'll get sidetracked without setting aside a specific timeslot to dial in and participate.

As a result, it's a good idea to set multiple reminders on your phone and/or computer that you are due to take part in a call. In addition to when, also make sure you're clear how. By this, we mean you should be make sure you have instructions of what you need to do to join the teleconference, making a note of pin codes and any other directions you may require.

Always try to dial in early, rather than being right on time or late. This way, you are limiting the chance of disrupting a call by coming into it when it's already in full flow, potentially upsetting the agenda and missing vital details.

Keep it clear

This point refers to a number of issues. Firstly, ensure you are in a quiet environment where there is no background noise going on. The last thing you want is for your own input to be disrupted by shouting or construction work, for example.

Secondly, when you are not talking, press the mute button on your phone. This will help to keep the meeting flowing by avoiding any unnecessary noises and also saves your embarrassment if you need to sigh, yawn or take a sip of tea. However, be careful not to mix up mute with hold, as this could potentially sabotage your meeting completely if you accidentally expose the other participants to annoying hold music or even cut them off altogether!

Thirdly, clarity is key in ensuring the teleconference is an effective one. Because all participants will not be in the same room, you should make sure everyone knows it is you who is speaking by introducing yourself briefly before making your point. Use your own judgement to decide whether or not you should continually do this throughout your call, but be mindful that not everyone will be good at recognising individual participants by the sound of their telephone voice.

Treat the meeting like any other

Of course, there might be a temptation to try to get away with certain behaviour that you would otherwise not give a second thought to if the meeting was being held face to face. Ignore those urges!

Just because someone can't see you doesn't mean you should be checking your emails, eating your lunch, or sending a message to a colleague while you are on a call. You should always give the speaker your full attention. 

If you don't, then chances are you will get found out when someone asks your opinion on the matter they've been discussing and you don't have an answer. When this happens, there's not really any way out of it without looking foolish.

While these guidelines are just to get you started, much of your conduct when taking part in a conference call should be based on common sense and courtesy. If you prepare and are polite as you would in any other situation, then you can look forward to reaping the rewards.