The workforce is changing along with the office environment. With flexible work schedules and remote access to work from home, the office dynamic must adapt to these changes to best fit employee and business needs.
Even though employees may not be in the office, meetings still have to occur as scheduled. One way management teams are finding a balance between the two is conference calls. Although conference calls have been a part of the business and meeting sector for a while, their role is also changing.
A conference call may be the only way a number of employees connect at once to talk about vital work changes or upcoming events. Despite remote locations, businesses cannot afford to compromise collaboration or communication. Although the Internet can be used for video calls, Google hangouts or other means of speaking, in-voice representation is often preferred for large groups. The tips offered here, would also apply to a video conference.
Although conference calls are a popular way to communicate, sometimes basic etiquette can get lost in translation.
In terms of basic communication, as well as language and cultural barriers, it’s important to keep these six tips in mind to ensure the call is productive and satisfying for everyone involved.
- Be on time: Joining a conference call can be a process, especially if there a lot of people participating. Be sure you’re on time, for both yourself and others on the call. Waiting for others to come on the line delays the ultimate goal of the call and is often seen as poor taste for business practice. Ensure both your time limits and others are respected.
- Don’t use the mute button: If you’re going to sneeze or there is a loud distraction, then yes, mute the call. But don’t mute it to multitask or eat and drink. Your complete focus should be on the call at all times.
- Engage those in on the call: Send talking points before the call starts or a reminder on what the call will be about so everyone is adequately prepared. If it’s just you talking the whole time, people may become bored or disengaged. Asking the opinion of others can help.
- Keep the attendee number small: Having more than four or five people on a call can become confusing and tedious. Frequent meetings with a smaller number of participants can often be more productive and enjoyable.
- Remain pleasant: Be polite throughout the whole call. If the call becomes too long or falls off topic, regroup with a smile. As people cannot see you, they will only go off of your voice, and they can usually tell when you’re irritated.
- Stay focused: Keep the call focused, simple and to the point. Long, drawn out calls will waste everyone’s time, and make it hard for participants to agree to schedule one in the future.