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Conference Call Etiquette

Conference Call Etiquette

  • Do get comfortable with the fact you will be talking in front of a group and receiving no visual cues or feedback.
  • Use the right phone in a quiet, undisturbed room.
  • Don't use cell phones or phones that pick up background noise.
  • Calling from an open plan office is the equivalent of having a conversation in a nightclub.
  • If you really can't find a quiet room, use the mute button until you are required to speak.
  • Your intelligent contributions mean nothing if no one can hear them.
  • Set up the meeting in advance and communicate the dial in number, passcodes and other information. "Spring forward, fall back" is something to keep in mind for your timezone crossing colleagues. Don't work out time differences on your fingers - check on the internet or even phone a colleague in that country and ask what time it is!
  • Start the meeting absolutely on time; don't reward latecomers' bad behaviour by waiting for them. Take a roll call at the start of the meeting, highlighting the missing attendees. Go on, get tough, people will love you for it!
  • Do treat the conference call as if it were a meeting. You know the routine; prepare and circulate an agenda, take notes.
  • Do get each caller to say hello and introduce themselves.
  • Even though you may never meet in person, it's a good relationship builder and gets the shyest of people to at least say their name.
  • Don't assume everyone recognises your voice. Unless you are dis-respecting the boss and want to stay incognito, say your name before you speak.
  • This is particularly important for the poor soul taking meeting notes.
  • Do make use of guest speakers. Invite a special or important guest and get them to say a few words at the beginning of the meeting. No one will know they slipped out after five minutes and you'll get the benefit of undivided attention and best behaviour.
  • Don't allow the topic to wander. Be an iron fist in a velvet glove - polite but firm if people talk too long or over each other. If your callers are at home sitting in their pyjamas nursing a hot chocolate, be considerate that all they want is to go to bed.
  • Do ask for input by using a person's name. People will pay more attention to avoid the embarrassment of needing the question repeated.
  • Don't shuffle papers; scrape chairs, pencil tap, hum or other distracting, noisy activities. It drives people mad!
  • Do close the meeting formally, thanking everybody for their time. That little bit of recognition will make them feel good about talking to you again.


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