Conference Call Etiquette... Guidelines for Hosts and Participants

Conference Call Etiquette

Many business people have questions about the proper etiquette to use when hosting or participating in a conference call. While many have weighed in on this issue, there is no one set of definitive rules governing proper conduct of a conference event. We would like to offer the following suggestions as guidelines for consideration by anyone required to host/moderate or requested to participate on a conference call.

Guidelines for hosts / moderators:

  • Get comfortable with the fact you will be talking in front of a group and receiving no visual cues or feedback.
  • Set up the meeting in advance and communicate the dial in number, pass codes and other information. “Spring forward, fall back” is something to keep in mind for your time zone crossing colleagues. Hint: Check on the Internet or even phone a colleague in that country and ask what time it is!
  • Start the meeting absolutely on time; don't reward latecomers' bad behavior by waiting for them. Take a roll call at the start of the meeting, highlighting the missing attendees.
  • Treat the conference call as if it were a meeting. You know the routine; prepare and circulate an agenda, take notes, publish meeting minutes, and identify the date and time of the next scheduled meeting.
  • Request each caller say hello and introduce themselves. Even though you may never meet in person, it's a good relationship builder and gets the shyest of people to at least say their name.
  • Make use of guest speakers. Invite a special or important guest and get them to say a few words at the beginning of the meeting. No one will know they slipped out after five minutes and you'll get the benefit of undivided attention and best behavior.
  • Don't allow the topic to wander. Be an iron fist in a velvet glove — polite but firm if people talk too long or over each other.
  • Ask for input by using a person's name. People will pay more attention to avoid the embarrassment of needing the question repeated.
  • Close the meeting formally, thanking everybody for their time. That little bit of recognition will make them feel good about talking to you again.
  • Do not sit on a leather chair and avoid embarrassing noises by using fabric-covered seats.

Guidelines for participants:

  • Do use the right phone in a quiet, undisturbed room.
  • Don't use cell phones or phones that pick up background noise. Calling from an open plan office is the equivalent of having a conversation in a nightclub. If you really can't find a quiet room, use the mute button until you are required to speak.
  • Do learn to use the mute button and other phone technology. Your intelligent contributions mean nothing if no one can hear them.
  • Don't assume everyone recognizes your voice. Unless you want to stay incognito, say your name before you speak. This is particularly important for the person assigned to taking meeting notes.
  • Don't shuffle papers; scrape chairs, pencil tap, hum or other distracting, noisy activities. This will distract others.
  • Complete pre-assignments prior to the conference call. Become familiar with the guest faculty by reviewing the bio-sketch. Review suggested reading materials.
  • Hook onto call 2-5 minutes early so the conference can proceed in a timely manner.
  • When speaking, please limit the length of your question or remarks to allow for ample time for others to participate.
  • Check to see if your phone system has music or radio playing for customers on “hold”. If so, do not use the “hold” button if you must leave the conference call momentarily. The music will play into the conference call.

Let us know if you have further suggestions to add to our recommendations.

June 24, 2014 | Categories: , , , , , | Tags: Conference Call Moderator, Conference calls, Conference Service Provider, Conferencing, Corporate Culture, Employee Morale, Employee satisfaction, Meeting Manager, Meetings, Moderator, Participants, Timed agendas


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