Conference calls are an amazing tool that can help businesses accomplish more with fewer resources. But like a clumsy carpenter with a hammer, conference call users can hurt themselves if they use their tools in improper ways. It’s important to choose your words wisely during a conference call since that’s how the other listeners will judge you. With that in mind, here are five things you should never say during a conference call.
Being punctual is important for all meetings, whether they’re face-to-face or through remote meeting tools like conference calls and video meetings. In a traditional meeting, arriving late automatically disrupts the meeting, since everyone will see you walk into the room and they know you’re there. This doesn’t happen in a conference call, where the only indication someone else has joined the line is from quick beep. However, that doesn’t mean the first thing a late caller should do is announce their presence to the group by apologizing for their tardiness.
Taking the time to say “Sorry I’m late.” and explaining the situation stops the flow of the in-progress meeting. You don’t want the first impression you give the group to be one of you being late and interrupting the meeting. Rather than disrupt the speaker, wait for a designated question break to speak up and let others know you’re on the call. This is different if everyone was waiting for you to arrive before they began the meeting. In that case, let people know you’re on the conference call, apologize for the delay and quickly move on to begin the meeting.
Since the things you say are the way you build your reputation and rapport with the other members of a conference call, you want to be as professional as possible. Asking, “What is this call about?” can make you look unprofessional and unprepared. This may seem like a strange thing for someone to ask, but when people are a part of dozens of calls per week, it’s understandable that they may not remember the purpose of every conference call they are scheduled to attend.
Even if you’re juggling a large number of calls, make sure to read the agenda before the call and to have anything that’s needed from you already prepared. It’s also helpful to put details about the purpose of a call in the invitation. That way, the caller gets a reminder of the purpose of the call when they look for the number to dial. If you use the Conference Group’s remote meeting services, consider downloading the TTConnex App for your mobile device, which makes it easier to keep track of your scheduled conference calls.
One of the potential issues that a group can have during a conference call is when one of the participants has a bad phone connection or they’re in a location where background noise is a factor. Ideally, everyone on the conference call knows to choose a quiet location and to mute their phone when they aren’t speaking. When this doesn’t happen, you shouldn’t be the one to complain about it unless you’re the meeting’s presenter. The presenter can calmly remind everyone to mute their phones when they’re not speaking so the noise is only there when it’s unavoidable.
There will be times when conference call participants are near construction, a barking dog or have a poor cellular signal. Asking “What is all that noise?” quickly descends into time wasted singling out the source, listening to the explanation for the noise, and so on. If one of the callers is in a situation where background noise is unavoidable, then there’s nothing they can do but mute their phone when they aren’t speaking. You don’t want to be the sole person complaining about an unavoidable noise that everyone else can hear but are politely ignoring so the meeting can progress.
Make sure you use a trustworthy, high-quality conference call service like Together Talk Audio from The Conference Group. That way, you can be certain any background noises you hear are the result of someone’s phone and not the result of technical issues from your remote meeting services provider.
Interrupting someone during a meeting is something you should avoid in all meetings, whether they’re face-to-face meetings or remote meeting. But for conference calls, interruptions are dangerous because it can lead to everyone trying to speak at once. Once it becomes acceptable for callers to try and chime in whenever they want, you’ll have people stumbling over each other’s words as they try to speak at once. This ends up preventing the meeting from following its planned agenda.
Conference call organizers should incorporate question breaks in their presentation so participants have to time to ask questions without interrupting the flow of the presentation. This also allows the presenter to stay in control of the conference call. They can select who gets to ask the next question and it’s no longer a free-for-all competition for who gets to speak.
If you have a question and there are no scheduled breaks for questions and comments, wait until the end of that section of the agenda to ask your question. You can say something to the effect, “Before we move on to the next section, I have a quick question…” This way, you can ask your question without interrupting the flow of the meeting or waiting until the very end of the call to ask about something discussed at the very beginning.
Sometimes, things that sound fine in your head take on a different connotation when heard by the other participants in the conference call. Asking, “Are we done now?” is one of those things that seem innocent but can rub others the wrong way. Even if you’re just curious if there was anything else to discuss, asking the question that way can make it sound like you’re exasperated and ready to get out of the meeting.
A better way to ask the same question is to say, “Is there anything else we need to discuss?” This takes the emphasis away from ending the meeting and places it on the completion of the work. If there’s nothing else to discuss, then the meeting is finished. You get the same result without sounding like someone in a rush end the call.
To learn how you can save money on conference calling services for your business, check out Together Talk Audio from the Conference Group.