Since children, we’ve always been taught about having good table manners and being courteous with others. Good behavior applies not just at the dinner table, but also in every other aspect of our personal and professional lives.
In business, proper etiquette can make or break your reputation. Small details, as insignificant as they may seem, can help or hurt others’ perception of you.
Technology has allowed us to work from home in our pajamas. Many jobs can be done remotely, which means that physical appearances are not an issue. But that doesn’t mean that we’ve ruled out proper etiquette in other parts of our work.
Good rules of etiquette apply to every communication medium, including phone, email, text, messaging, in-person contact, and conference calling. Unfortunately, most of these rules remain unwritten, so it’s hard to decipher what’s good and bad etiquette.
Almost every business with more than one employee will hold a remote meeting, either by phone or through video conferencing. So while teleconferencing may replace face-to-face meetings in some instances, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to be on your best behavior.
Make sure you close that deal next time you do business over the phone. Apply these eight tips and wow them with your excellent conference call etiquette.
Take Care of the Technical Details
Make sure you have the right gear in order. Nothing can be more disastrous than dropped calls, bad connections, static, and other nuisances that will annoy everyone involved.
Technical problems and the wrong equipment will make you look inefficient and unprofessional. If you plan on doing conference calls over the internet, make sure you choose a quality VOIP provider that offers conference call features. VOIP is quickly becoming the primary phone system for many businesses, but cheap internet phone systems don’t always provide the best quality. Make sure to choose the right VOIP phone system.
Don’t Be Late
Stuck in traffic? Bad weather? The dog ate my meeting notes?
Some things are out of our control, but punctuality is important in person as it is on phone calls. There are fewer excuses for joining a conference call late.
For one, you usually have more control over scheduling a time when you know everyone will be present. This means that if you start your workday at 9:00 AM, you probably don’t want to schedule the meeting at 9:15 AM. You want to allow plenty of time for everyone to arrive, get their coffee, and make any last-minute preparations. Leave enough time between the start of the workday and the meeting.
Only Include Necessary Participants
Participation is easier with in-person meetings because usually everyone is an earshot of each other. But with conference meetings, the more is not merrier.
If you have a large group, it’s easier for communication to be missed. The mic will be placed further from certain members of the group, making it harder for some to be heard.
If you think more than two people speaking at once in-person is annoying, imagine how much more irritating it is on a conference call. This will frustrate the members at the other end of the call and will create a clumsy experience. Try to keep only necessary people on the call and avoid having too large of a group.
Remove All Distractions from the Room
Does the air conditioner make a buzzing sound? Are you holding the meeting inside a dining area where other employees frequently walk in?
We get that some offices have limited space, and yes, it may mean your meeting room also functions as your lunchroom. This is especially true for small offices.
However, keep background noise to a minimum, including eating and drinking. No one wants to hear loud chewing on the other end of the call. Have your donuts before or after the meeting, not during.
Have Questions and Answers
Your time and their time is valuable. There is nothing worse than to waste call minutes on awkward moments of silence.
Fill in the pauses by asking questions that you’ve prepared ahead of time. We understand that new ones may arise during the meeting, but make sure you make the most out of your time by preparing a list of questions. This will also help stay organized and ensure you didn’t miss anything. At the same time, you might want to prepare some answers for any questions you anticipate the other party may ask.
Summarize the Main Talking Points of Your Meeting
Did the meeting accomplish what you hope it would? Even if you feel good about it, how do you know the feeling is mutual?
Always be sure to give a quick summary of the items that you discussed. This is your chance to recap your intentions and goals, which leads to our next point.
“Does Anyone Else Have Anything to Add for Have Any Questions?”
At the end of your summary, give your guests the chance to ask or add anything else. Not only is this a courteous gesture, but it’s also a chance for you to confirm whether your message was heard, both figuratively and literally.
Don’t Forget to Say Goodbye
It’s obvious, but it can be easy to miss in certain situations. Maybe you landed that big business deal and got so excited you forgot to say bye. The simplest gestures can also be the easiest to forget. So, don’t forget to thank your guests for their time and send them off with a kind and warm adieu!