Do you have a big conference call coming up? Are you nervous you’re going to botch it because you just can’t relate as well digitally as you can in person?
Maybe you don’t love conference calls because they feel so much less productive than in-person meetings. If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. 65% of employees admit to doing other work while on a conference call.
Ineffective conference calls are a waste of both parties’ time. Some basic conference call etiquette can turn that problem around, though, and make remote meetings even more productive than in-person meetings!
Want to learn some of the top conference call tips and biggest conference call mistakes to avoid? Read on.
Check and Recheck Tech
This is one of the biggest conference call ground rules out there. Nothing derails a conference call faster than a faulty internet connection, or worse, user error.
Before your call, make sure you’ve checked and double-checked these important tech specifications:
- Internet connection (Is it fast? Is it reliable)
- Video capabilities
- Audio capabilities
If your conference requires a password to join, make sure you have it ahead of time to avoid scrambling for it right before the meeting. If you’re joining into a conference call via a certain link, make sure you’ve noted it in your planner or calendar so you’re not poring over emails to find it when the time comes.
If you do a lot of teleconferencing, it’s a good idea to invest in a quality microphone to eliminate echo. It doesn’t have to be super expensive– even Apple’s earbuds come equipped with a decent microphone that’s better than your computer’s. No one wants to strain to hear what the other party is saying!
Prepare and Share Visuals
Presenting information is definitely easy in an in-person meeting. All you have to do is warm up that projector or turn your laptop screen around and you’re golden.
In a conference call, it’s not always so easy.
There are solutions, though. Popular teleconferencing programs like Skype and Zoom both offer options to share your screen so you can present your data or PowerPoint like a pro. Zoom even features the capability to share your screen while still showing a thumbnail video of you in the corner to retain that face-to-face element of your meeting.
Don’t miss out on valuable ways to present information just because you’re teleconferencing!
Get Rid of Distractions
This is a game changer for productive conference calls. Little distractions that you didn’t even think to eliminate have a way of sneaking up on you and derailing your train of thought mid-call, so be sure to cover all your bases ahead of time.
First off, eliminate visual distractions. Make sure your background is clear of clutter.
That doesn’t mean your background has to be plain and boring. Feel free to show off your personality via a nice piece of artwork or some neatly organized shelves. Just make sure your background isn’t that messy corner of your office, or your pile of laundry on the couch.
Secondly, eliminate secondary distractions. This means background noises, like the whir of cars outside, the hum of the laundry machine, or the chatter of gossipy coworkers.
It also means preventing others from barging in on your space, like your partner or roommate, pet, or coworker.
Thirdly, eliminate digital distractions. This means doing other work, checking your phone or email, and consulting your Google calendar mid-meeting.
When you’re distracted from the person in front of you, it shows that you don’t value their time. That’s not a good feeling, and you wouldn’t want to be treated like that either, right? Staying focused, present, and mindful is one of those video call best practices MVPs.
Treat Your Conference Call like an In-Person Meeting
If you treat your teleconference like an in-person meeting, it’ll go as smoothly as an in-person meeting.
Make sure you’re in the virtual chat room five minutes early. Don’t make people wait for you to join, just like you wouldn’t bust into an in-person meeting ten minutes late.
Make sure you present yourself professionally, too. If you’re working from home, dress up as if you were meeting in person. The last thing you want is to have to get up unexpectedly only for your client to see that you’ve paired your blazer with your finest pair of sweatpants!
Most importantly, be yourself. Remember that the two-dimensional face on the other side of the screen is a real person who wants to connect with you. Don’t be afraid to laugh and get to know them a little better. You could even begin with a small compliment at the beginning of the meeting to establish that human connection.
Create an Agenda
On average, over 15 minutes is wasted on every conference call. Over time, that adds up to a lot of money on the table. Tech issues, waiting for the other party to show up, and the big one–small talk–should be avoided for maximum productivity.
Of course, small talk is a great way to warm up for the meeting. It’s not a bad idea to engage in those pleasantries that make your teleconference feel more human. It is a bad idea, however, to allow it to run the show.
In the spirit of treating your teleconference like an in-person meeting, don’t let it get too casual. The best way to reign in the call is to create an agenda.
In order to stay on task, you need to learn how to eliminate that small talk– or at least manage it properly. Build in a few minutes at the beginning of the call to warm up, and then hammer out your main discussion points throughout the rest of the outline. Feel free to share the agenda verbally with the other party, too– it’ll show that you value their time and care about the productivity of your call.
Conference Call Etiquette Equals Confidence
Now that you’ve read up on the most essential conference call etiquette rules in the teleconferencing game, you should feel a little more confident as you head into your next virtual meeting.
Check out some more articles on communication tips to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward in all your meetings and interactions!