Conference Call Etiquette–10 Tips For Having a Smoother Meeting
As you host a conference call, you will need to prepare in advance to make it more successful and productive. You can make your conference call a bit less awkward and easier to understand by following our conference call tips.
In this article, we will share ten tips for better conference calls. Running a conference call properly can help you look more professional and organized.
- Take Care of Technical Issues
- Stay Honest about Disruptions
- Introduce Participants
- Use Video
- Talk about Why You are Hosting
- Annunciate Clearly and Loudly
1. Take Care of Technical Issues
Before you even start, you need to thoroughly test all your equipment and software. Make sure you understand how it all works. See that it functions without problems. If you cannot manage your VoIP system properly on the call, it could be fairly embarrassing and it may cause you to waste your participants’ time.
Dropped calls are one issue to prepare for. You do not want the call to drop during an important part of the meeting. Make sure you are ready. If necessary, place a practice conference call.
2. Stay Honest about Disruptions
If there is a disruption or if you are in a noisy area, it is best to let your listeners and participants know. A quick word about your surroundings and why there is so much noise around or why you are being disrupted can help your call participants understand what is happening and how to respond.
Whenever some technical problem comes up that starts to interfere with your call, be sure to mention that, too. Providing adequate information to your participants can help you keep everyone on the same page. It is also honest.
3. Know Your Audience
You need to understand your audience before you even begin the call. This can help with your preparation. The logistics of a very large call with hundreds of participants are very different from what you would need to do a smaller call with just a few participants.
4. Use Video
Video can enhance your conference call. Inevitably, some participants will want to connect on their smartphones, tablets or computers and will be in a position to benefit from video during the call. If your VoIP vendor offers this, it is a great idea and really adds to the quality of information you can provide. You can show visuals and allow participants to see the nonverbal cues speakers use when they talk.
High-quality IP cameras can help you provide a better video call. With the right equipment and software, you can provide excellent live video and help your participants be more engaged in the conference.
5. Talk about Why You are Hosting
Introducing yourself during the call and briefly explaining the purpose and goals of the call can help get everyone on the same page. It also sets the tone for the conversation so the call can continue on-topic and on-point. If some participants and listeners are not familiar with you, this is also an opportunity to tell them more about why you are hosting the call and who you are.
Start by mentioning your name, title and any applicable information about your organization. Quickly move on to talking about why you decided to host the call, what your goals are for the conference and what you hope to discuss. Keep this entire introduction relatively short but provide enough information for it to be useful for listeners. If you have co-hosts, briefly introduce them as well or allow them to introduce themselves. Move into the main conference call before listeners become bored or lost in the introduction.
6. Annunciate Clearly and Loudly
Speaking clearly, carefully and loudly will help your listeners and other participants understand what you say. Keep in mind that audio equipment often picks up louder sound more easily, so you can improve your audio quality by speaking loud enough for your microphone. Advise other hosts to do the same.
Watch your speech for “ah,” “um,” “uh,” or any other auditory tics. When people and stressed and have to give speeches, they sometimes unconsciously add words or begin to have speaking difficulties. This can make it more challenging to understand what you say, so try to stay calm and study what you plan to say very carefully. This can help you feel better prepared for your talk. It can also help your listeners understand you.
7. Fill the Silence
If there is a long silent period in the conversation, it disrupts the flow of the call and can make listeners feel uncomfortable. Do not allow long periods of silence. If at all possible, try to fill it if you can do so naturally. For example, you can use time spent waiting for your computer to load as an opportunity to explain to listeners the steps that are required for using their software system to accomplish a relevant task. You could also describe a visual element or some important visual information that is not visible to audio-only participants.
Of course, a disruption or technical problem causing silence needs to be mentioned briefly and explained so listeners know what to expect. Do not leave your participants in the dark.
8. Take Technical Conversations Offline
Very long, specific or technical conversations should be saved for offline. If a participant decides to bring up a lengthy example, asks a question that is not really relevant or begins wasting your time, find a way to gently move the conversation offline or save it for later. You can let your participants know if there will be a Q&A period at the end, so they can save their questions and avoid wasting everyone’s time in the middle of the conference.
You can also ask them to save specific questions or thoughts for the end. If your participants are willing, have listeners save their questions for after the talk and provide them with contact information for the event’s speakers so they can ask questions later on.
9. Recap What You Accomplished
In any meeting, you need to end the call by letting participants know what you accomplished. Give a quick recap so listeners see the value in your conversation and so they can readily understand what the next steps are after the call ends. Provide your listeners and participants with something actionable they can take away from the call.
10. Close the Call
As the call ends, you need to say goodbye and end the call with a great sendoff, whenever possible. It is better to say something to end the call rather than letting the call end with dead air and silence.
Help your listeners and participants remember the call. Remember anything you agreed to do after the call, such as emailing participants and answering questions. If needed, provide your contact information so participants can reach you. Mention when the next meeting is planned or say a quick word about what would lead you to schedule another meeting. Let them know how, if and when to expect follow-up contact from you.
After the call, be sure to make good on what you agreed. Email, call or connect with people promptly and notify everyone when they need to be notified.