6 Things You Can Do to Keep Conference Calls Smooth

conf-call-no-eatingWe’ve developed a very popular page on the NCC site about conference call etiquette. There is much to be learned for people new to conference calls, and even for veterans, to keep things flowing and trouble-free. Who knew that the world of conference calling could be fraught with so many dangers?

We’ve recently updated the page to add some more items that seem to come up again and again. Maybe it’s time for review for you?:

1) Proper Introductions
When you come onto the call, you will be announced by a beep. Other callers are very much expecting you to introduce yourself. And it doesn’t have to be your full bio and what you had for breakfast, but instead just a simple “This is John Doe, Sales Manager and Ace Widgets” will do nicely.

And don’t forget to reintroduce yourself briefly before speaking, as this provides context and clarity for those following the call or taking notes. Something like “This is John Doe… I feel like the main issue…” is perfect.

2) Don’t Be Late
You wouldn’t be late for a face-to-face meeting, would you? Conference calls are no different, really, and the other callers deserve respect and the understanding that their time is valuable, too. So make a point of being on time. On those rare occasions when you might be running late, try not to interrupt the call too much, and instead just quickly let everyone know you’re on, and sorry for being late, and then try to get caught up by listening intently.

If a significant number of callers are late to a call, the blizzard of beeps and apologetic intros can completely ruin the flow of the call, constantly interrupting the first speaker. Routine calls with large numbers of participants sometimes choose to implement a late comer policy, similar to sporting events and theater performances where guests are held until there is a break in the action. You can let callers know that they should be on time, of course, and that if they are late they should wait until the 5 minute mark, 10 minute, or 15 minute mark to join in, so it’s less disruptive.

3) Your Mute Button is There for a Reason
Use it. You may think your office is quiet, or that you don’t make noise when you chew gum (obviously you’re NOT eating your lunch, right?), but your associates on the conference call might beg to differ. Multiply those tiny noise levels by the number of people on the call (10? 50? 200?), and you can be contributing to quite a cacophony. Be smart and use the mute button found on every phone, until it’s your turn to speak.

4) Avoiding Bad Calling Areas
On the subject of background noise, is you know you’re going to be speaking on the call, make sure you are in an area with little background noise, and good cell reception if necessary. It’s horrible for you, and the other callers if, when it’s time for you to present your ideas, they can only hear every third word and the screech from the subway brakes.

5) Despise Non-Productive Calls? Maybe it’s YOU
Everyone hates calls where the conversation circles around, strays off topic, and little gets accomplished. Do your part to keep things moving forward by being prepared (reading on the topic, list of questions), and insisting on a call leader and an agenda before the call begins.

6) Take Notes, Use the Recordings
On longer calls, or those with complex issues, make sure to jot down notes as you go. This is helpful during the call, and also for follow-ups via email or one-to-one calls. Even a quick note to yourself to review the call recording at a certain time of the call can be very helpful. More on NCC call recordings here »

Keep these, and other common sense issue in mind while planning and joining your conference calls, and things should keep running smoothly for you and your associates on the call. Feel free to leave a reply below with more tips, too!