Conference calls are a very common way to communicate within a professional environment, and are necessary in most lines of work. Due to this it’s important that you know how to carry each one out effectively and efficiently.  Within this blog post I will be giving you some tips and tricks that will teach you how to carry them out to the high standard possible.

Preparation and Practise

Many people unfortunately face a lot of anxiety when it comes to public speaking, so when all ears are on you this may feel like a daunting experience. Being organised is one of the most crucial steps to a conference call, but with the right preparation you can help ensure that it flows smoothly, by knowing what you’re going to say and know when your cue is to say it.

You should ensure that before you start the call that you have all of the correct information and equipment that you will need for throughout the call, so that you won’t be rushing around trying to find things when you should be listening and taking notes. If you’re worried about what you’re going to say, write it up the day before and run through it yourself, or ask someone else if you can go over each of your points with them to ensure that they make sense and they are the actual points you want to make.  It’s important to be prepared with a pen and paper before the call starts, so you can write down any notes that you need to take. Writing important information down will also help you stay focused during the call, especially if it’s a long call that you need to remember. If you’re the one running it, its important to plan your agenda with estimated time frames and share them with your audience before the call. By doing this it helps keeping the call organised and ensures that everything is covered.

Sound Quality

When you’re on the phone to someone you want to ensure that everything sounds okay and that they can hear you clearly, especially if you’re on a professional call. You should be conscious of the environment around you. Not only will it affect you not being able to hear the other participants, but it will affect them being able to hear you, as well as creating a lot of frustration whilst others are trying to talk. Ensure that you’re in a quiet environment where there won’t be any loud distractions. Avoid coffee shops, a busy office or walking around on the street as anything can happen in your surroundings that you can’t control. Try and find a quiet room with a desk, as you can sit on your own, concentrate and take notes. Before the meeting starts go into an empty room and test the microphone on your device, to ensure clarity to the other participants. Headsets and microphones are recommended, but if you don’t have access to that type of equipment, a regular phone will do just fine. When speaking hold the phone to your ear with the opposite hand that you write with. Avoid putting yourself on speaker phone or holding the device up to your ear with your shoulder as this can cause muffling and you may not be able to be heard as well as you wish to be.

Its important that during the call you speak clearly and politely. Although you cannot be seen, you should still maintain the correct body language, so you’re able to speak clearly. The way you’re sat will help you speak more clearly, try sitting up straight, alternatively try standing up and walking around the room you’re in. As well as helping with the way you speak this may also help you with concentration and help you think, as you’re keeping yourself busy so you won’t feel the need to zone out.

Etiquette

You may not be able to see the other participants in the call but this doesn’t mean your regular work place manners and etiquette shouldn’t be applied, it’s important to treat a conference call the same way that you would treat any other meeting, as these are your colleagues/clients that you need to impress.

You wouldn’t turn up to a regular meeting late, so why would you treat this any different? It’s important to be punctual to everything within a work place environment. Ten minutes before you dial in, find a quiet room, ensure you have everything with you such as a pen, paper and the device you’ll be calling on and ensure that you have the dial in number. That gives you enough time to prepare yourself and think about the things you will be discussing. Always try and dial in early, it’s important that you know how to dial in, if you’re unsure, get someone who regularly takes part in conference calls to show you how it’s done, so you’re not scrambling around at the start of the meeting trying to figure out how to do it.

If you’re the one in charge of the call its important to ensure the other members are aware of the meeting agenda so they know what they need to plan and can think of any thoughts that they have on the topic beforehand. When planning the meeting ensure that you create a group email including each participant stating each individual topic you will be discussing. Be clear about the outcome and what you wish to achieve from the call.

Sometimes colleagues tend to dial in on the same line, due to this introductions are important. Its common etiquette to introduce yourself, as you would in a regular meeting with people that you haven’t met before, even if you have taken place in a conference call with the people participating they may not recognise your voice, so ensure to tell them who you are, from what department and what company.

You can’t see body language in a phone call, so sometimes it’s difficult to know when someone is about to start talking, although, it’s important to know when to speak, and when not to. Speaking over or louder than people is considered rude in any situation, so it’s vital that you only speak when you’ve been asked to, especially if you’re on a call with your superiors, so take note of your cues. You should also not be afraid of the mute button, any background noise can drown out the person speaking, even if you are in a quiet environment, someone may come in to ask you a question, or there could be things outside causing a loud commotion that you wouldn’t want to effect the way everyone else is hearing the meeting, so it’s important to be conscious of the environment around you. If anything like this happens, simply just select mute.