Conference call etiquette is different than “regular phone” etiquette. Because you are in a group and you only have your voice to rely on, it becomes increasingly important the more people there are on the call, that you don’t want to make a faux pas simply because you were uninformed about Conference call etiquette. Just like any other type of business etiquette, start with the golden rule: Treat others how you’d like to be treated.
If you’re managing the call, establish a set of guidelines so nobody monopolizes the conversation or gets lost amidst other voices. If someone needs to get into the weeds of details about a specific item, suggest a separate call to sort out the situation so the whole team doesn’t get delayed.
Here are the basics of conference call etiquette. Consider it your cheat sheet to a fast, flawless virtual meeting:
- Be on time.
This should be easy, right? However, for many people, joining a conference call can be a challenge. Some have been “burned” by sitting on conference calls waiting for up to 15 minutes before the rest of the attendees call in. If you already know who is likely to be late, send a text reminder to those typically tardy participants. It’s an easy way to remind people on the move and not tied to their desks.
- Announce yourself.
Don’t assume that everyone knows everyone else, or that anyone knows you’ve “arrived.” A brief introduction like, “Hi, this is John,” succinctly notifies other attendees. Saying hello when you enter a room (or phone call in this case) might be incredibly basic, but it’s still often overlooked.
- Don’t eat or drink anything.
Again, this should be obvious but it’s unfortunately not. Eating and drinking during a meeting is rude enough (assuming it’s not catered like many in-person meetings are). However, eating and drinking on a conference call can be maddening because everyone can hear you chewing! There’s no call too long that eating before and/or after isn’t suitable and if you simply can’t help chewing, then use your mute button.
- Mute yourself.
There’s a mute button for a reason. It might not seem like it, but there’s a lot of background noise even in the quietest of offices. There may also be feedback you can’t hear, but everyone else can. Unless you’re speaking, keep your phone on mute.
- Take notes if necessary.
There may very well be a recorder, but if there are notes that you’ll need to do your job better, take charge and jot them down yourself. Some people also record conference calls so they don’t miss anything.
- Have a list of suggestions & questions ready.
If you already know you have questions or input, jot them down beforehand. You don’t want to be hemming, hawing and peppering in a lot of “uh’s” when everyone is waiting for you to speak. Preparation is key
- Be pleasant to the end.
Finally, make sure to say goodbye, and do so with a smile. Politeness can go a long way in business, especially when you’re relying solely on your voice. There’s only so much you can do to make a good impression. With prep work and basic etiquette, you can show you’re polished, respectful and genuinely interested in the call. That’s what will stand out in the eyes of managers and investors, and it takes minimal effort on your part.
If you’re hosting, learn more tips here.