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10 Conference Call Etiquette Tips to Make Your Meetings Productive and Pleasant

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conference call etiquette

Phone conference etiquette is easy to grasp once you know what to do. Since virtual meetings are an important part of doing business for many companies and industries, it’s well worth your time to make sure you understand the unspoken rules of audio conferencing.

Teleconferences can be intimidating, especially if:

The best way to ensure that you and your company come across in a positive light is to follow simple conference call etiquette.

If you’ve ever been on a phone conference before, you’re likely aware that there’s an unspoken code of behavior that is very different from regular calls. The introduction of additional callers plus the potential complications from today’s phone conferencing technology can make things complicated.

Whether it’s your first conference call or one-thousandth, you should be familiar with the basics of phone meeting etiquette. Here are 10 tips to make sure your meetings go off without a hitch.

1. Don’t Be Late

Everyone is busy — even if you have 100 things to do, phone conference etiquette requires that you be on time to the call. Though this tip is important, over time it can get overlooked. If you are responsible for leading a call, make it clear to the other participants that you plan to start exactly on time.

An easy way to discourage audio conferences from starting late is to move forward with the agenda even if all the participants aren’t on the line. Sticking to your schedule will make it clear that your calls start when they’re scheduled.

One thing to consider when you are joining calls is the time it takes to dial-in. Most conferencing providers require you to dial an unknown phone number in addition to an access code and possibly a host PIN—give yourself ample time to navigate those menus. Alternatively, if you are hosting the call, you can choose a conference call service like Branded Bridge Line that offers PIN-free dial-ins for everyone’s ease-of-use.

Conference Call Etiquette Pro Tip: If someone joins a call late, kindly let them know that they can catch up on what they missed with you or a colleague at the end of the call or send your participants a recording afterwards. By utilizing this tactic, latecomers won’t miss important information from the call and you also won’t have to hold up everyone else waiting for them to join.

2. Be Kind

The second rule of phone conference etiquette may be the most important one. In fact, this tip applies in any kind of situation: be kind. Treat others on the call the way you would like to be treated for a harmonious and productive meeting every time.

Think about the other people on the call and take their needs into consideration. This step may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people prioritize their own needs over the needs of other attendees.

Remember, teleconferences are designed to get things done. Often, everyone wants to get off the call and get back to work. The more pleasant and accommodating you can be, the better! This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t voice your ideas and opinions; it just means you should do so with poise and kindness.

3. Don’t Interrupt

If you remember the fact that meetings are just big conversations, it’ll be easy to have good phone conference etiquette. As with any conversation, it’s best to always wait for someone to finish before speaking. If someone else is talking, actually listen to what they’re saying instead of thinking about what you’re going to say afterwards. After all, the whole point of a conference call is to deliver and receive messages clearly. You might be surprised by their contribution, allowing the conference call to take a new and productive turn that you didn’t expect.

Interruptions can totally derail a conversation and leave a lasting bad impression. No one wants to feel like their opinions, concerns, and suggestions are being ignored, or that their contributions aren’t valued. If you interrupt someone by accident, simply apologize and allow them to finish their thought.

If you’ll have a larger group of people on the call, it’s easier for interruptions to get out of hand. Prepare for larger groups by setting ground rules in the beginning. Maybe you all decide on an order in which to share your opinions, or maybe you select a discussion moderator to choose who will speak next.

One of the most important features of an audio conference is to provide an easily accessible space for lots of people to contribute ideas. Just like regular meeting etiquette, not interrupting others is an important part of conference call etiquette.

To further illustrate the point, if you start interrupting other people on the call it only encourages others to do so. Interruptions can make people flustered or upset. People are less likely to participate if they are flustered or feel like they won’t be able to finish a thought without getting interrupted. By following this one piece of phone conference etiquette, you can expect increased participation and more successful calls.

4. Make Sure You Know How to Mute

Do you know the biggest mistake novice conference callers make? Not putting themselves on mute. It’s a common one because it’s not immediately apparent when you’re doing it – but it’s definitely a violation of conference call etiquette.

It’s common phone conference etiquette to put your phone on mute when you aren’t talking on a call. This is for a number of reasons, but the biggest one is that you might be in a noisy environment like a coffee shop or walking down the street and even though you can hear everyone on the call just fine, they won’t be able to hear anyone else talking because of the noise coming from your phone.

Phone meeting etiquette takes some getting used to — you may occasionally forget to unmute yourself before you speak at first. But soon it becomes second nature. By mastering the mute button, your audio conferences will carry on smoothly without unwanted distractions and disturbances.  

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5. Always Announce Yourself When Joining (the Call and the Conversation)

The more participants on a call, the more important it is to announce yourself when you join. This is common phone conference etiquette. Without the advantage of face-to-face communication, it can be impossible to keep track of who is on the line.

Furthermore, if you don’t know everyone on the call – and especially when it’s a big call – you should even announce yourself when you speak on the call. It doesn’t have to be an in-depth introduction each time, but a quick, “Hi this is so-and-so from such-and-such department,” will help everyone on the call better keep track of the conversation.

6. Come to the Call Prepared

There’s nothing worse than a silent conference line. Bueller? …Bueller? Luckily, following some simple conference call etiquette can help you avoid that!

If you’re on a call with a lot of people you don’t know personally, it can be intimidating to contribute. Coming to the call prepared with data, observations, conclusions, and insightful questions for other departments is the easiest way to ensure you have a great call. Plus, it will make the call go by quicker since the host won’t have to work as hard to pull out answers and contributions.

The call leader likely prepared an agenda ahead of the call… take advantage of it! Use the agenda as a roadmap to prepare some questions. Also, if you know you’ll be expected to contribute, make sure you’re prepared. Conference calls are best when there are a lot of interactions, so always be sure to ask for thoughts, reactions, and feedback.

7. This Conference Call May Be Recorded…

Most teleconferences can and will be recorded. Recordings are great reference points for reviewing meetings and holding people accountable. Depending on the state you are conducting business in, many do not require consent (one party consent is enough in many states, which means you consent as a participant, and that is enough).

A conference call recording can be circulated and live on long past the conclusion of your meeting, which means you should always be mindful (and kind!) whenever you’re on a call. If you keep the above phone conference etiquette tips in mind, you should have nothing to worry about on a recorded call.

If you’re the one recording the call, common phone meeting etiquette dictates that you inform your conference participants that the call is being recorded. Some conferencing services may automatically notify participants, but others will require that you verbally communicate the recording with the other meeting members.

8. Don’t Multitask

Sometimes doing two or more things at once is useful — but not during a conference call. While it may be tempting to use a phone conference as an opportunity to catch up on work, eat a snack, or scroll through your social media feeds, it’s not the time or place. Good conference call etiquette means contributing to the conversation and being attentive to others.

Being distracted during a conference call can:

Even when your input isn’t required or expected, people on the call assume you are paying attention. Good phone meeting etiquette dictates that you put things that distract you out of reach and stay focused on the conversation.

9. Double-Check Your Connection

There are few things that frustrate call participants more than a bad connection or bad audio quality. Spotty connection can ruin a conference call and waste peoples’ time. Before your next virtual meeting, consider testing:

Again, a large part of teleconference etiquette is being prepared. If you’re leading the call, you can ensure crystal clear audio quality by choosing an audio conferencing plan through a service like Branded Bridge Line.

Phone Meeting Etiquette Pro Tip: Wearing headphones or earbuds limits feedback and improves how well others can hear you.

10. Sit up Straight!

Odds are, you wouldn’t slouch during a work meeting if your boss or colleagues were in the room with you, would you? Believe it or not, the same rule applies in teleconferencing etiquette. You’d be surprised how many people can tell the difference in someone’s posture over the phone.

Sitting up or standing enables you to project your voice; just think – you never see a choir perform while lounging on sofas! And on that note, make sure you speak up when you have something to add or when you’re called on. If you mumble or speak too softly, people may not understand you or think you are uninterested in the discussion.

Conference with Confidence

Phone conference etiquette isn’t complicated! Following a few simple guidelines can help anyone have successful calls. Whether you’re experienced or leading your very first meeting, the conference call etiquette covered here will keep calls productive and efficient – all while making sure everyone is heard and respected.

Want to take your phone conferencing to the next level? Check out Branded Bridge Line’s conference call features today!

Phone Conference Etiquette FAQs

It depends on your schedule and what the nature of the call is. If it’s a qualified prospect for a sales call, you might give them 10 minutes, and send a quick email after 5 or 10 minutes asking if the other participant(s) would like to reschedule, or if they’ll still be joining. Remind them of the dial in number and PIN if there is one set for the conference line.

Yes, it’s rude! The conference host can see that you are on, so just say hello and something like “I’m expecting Joe to join soon, I’m going to mute for a moment and make sure he’s on the way.”

No matter what kind of meeting, it’s always best to be upfront and make your presence known when you join the call. That way, folks know you’re there and ready to participate. By knowing who is already on the call, the host can decide whether or not to start the meeting, wait for others to join, or postpone the call altogether.

Yes, conference calls can be recorded, and depending on the state you are conducting business in, most states do not require consent (one party consent is enough in many states, which means you consent as a participant, and that is sufficient.) 

When it comes to phone conference etiquette, there’s not one single answer to how long is too long to wait for other participants to join. In general, it depends on your schedule and what the nature of the call is.

For example, if it’s a qualified prospect for a sales call, you might give them 5 to 10 minutes, and send a quick email after 5 minutes asking if the other participant(s) would like to reschedule, or if they’ll still be joining. Remind them of the dial-in number and PIN, if applicable.

If your call has many participants from different departments, you might want to be a little more flexible as you’re dealing with multiple people and their busy schedules. Ultimately, if you’re hosting the call, it’s up to you to decide how long to wait. If it’s unlikely that you’ll find a new time that reasonably works for everyone on the call, it might be worth it to wait 15-20 minutes in order to complete the call in the first place. However, if the main stakeholders for the call are already present, you can probably begin the meeting without issue.

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