Conference calls are a way of life in the workplace.
In fact, estimates are that nearly one-third of employees take part in at least one conference call a week.
With so many business people participating in so many calls, conference call etiquette becomes a concern.
Planning is an important part of the process, according to Robert Half International. If you’re not familiar with the telephone equipment or web-hosting software, do a trial run so the actual call will go smoothly.
When scheduling the time of the call, be sure it is at a convenient time during the work day for attendees in other time zones, Robert Half recommends. Avoid scheduling the meeting very early, very late or during lunch, if possible.
Before the call, give participants everything they will need, including dial-in number, pass code and log-in directions. If the call will address a variety of topics, prepare an agenda. Send any attachments ahead of time and let participants know if they should review the attachments beforehand.
What are the rules of etiquette for professional behavior on the conference call? CareerBuilder offers the following tips:
- The facilitator should always introduce himself or herself and also introduce every new participant as they join the call.
- Participants should identify themselves the first few times before they speak.
- All participants should remember to mute their microphones so office sounds and personal comments or coughs can’t be heard by the group.
- The facilitator should direct the conversation, assign follow-up items and keep the meeting on schedule.
- Participants should be allowed to speak without interruption.
- Participants should focus on making their point succinctly without pontification. They should allow others to speak without taking over the conversation.
- If a participant goes off course or speaks too long, the facilitator should step in to politely redirect the conversation.
- Participants should strive to keep on topic, focusing on the big picture that is the discussion topic.
- Smaller details that are not of interest to the group as a whole should be redirected by the facilitator to be dealt with separately by the individuals involved.
- Participants should give their full attention to the call. A CareerBuilder study found that only 29 percent of participants give conference calls their full, undivided attention. Half said they give about 75 percent attention, and 21 percent said they spend the majority of the call working on another project, checking email, surfing the Internet, texting, checking social media or playing games on their mobile phone.