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Conference Call Etiquette: 7 Tips for Successful Business Phone Calls

By Kristine Penning, Creative Marketing Specialist

It’s easy to get both distracted and frustrated during a conference call. Unlike a physical meeting, you have no one holding you accountable for listening. You also have less ease and flow in discussion since no visual cues are given. Take these seven tips to practice next time you have a conference call for a more streamlined, courteous, and productive conversation.

  1. Call In On Time: Don’t delay the group and their later plans by calling in later than the time agreed upon. Keep a schedule of your conference calls in your email, your calendar, or your planner. If you are more than five minutes late, let the group know that you should either reschedule or that they should go on without you.
  2. Come Prepared: An agenda or at least a topic of conversation should have been sent ahead of the call. Be sure that you come to the call prepared with notes, ideas, questions, and any action items that your role in the meeting would require.
  3. Announce Yourself: When you join the conference call or whenever you speak during the call, be sure to announce yourself before sharing your thoughts or speaking. This helps avoid any confusion by helping other members of the call know who’s speaking and actioning.
  4. Don’t Speak Over Others: This is easy to do on a conference call, especially since you are likely unable to see who is getting ready to say something. Wait for a break in conversation, and if you speak at the same time as someone else, either politely ask to speak first or let the other group member share their thoughts first. If others are speaking over you, try to send a message behind the scenes to the group leader letting them know you have something to say, such as a text message or an IM.
  5. Stay Tuned In: In other words, pay attention! Just because the other members of the conversation can’t see you scrolling through your phone or checking your emails doesn’t mean you have permission to. Nothing’s worse than someone on the line asking you what you think and you have no idea what you were just talking about. Stay focused by taking notes on the conversation and fully engage yourself in the call.
  6. Mute Your Line: When you are not speaking, remember to mute your line to cut down on background noise and any call interference.
  7. Remain on Track: Again, there should be an agenda on the conference call emailed ahead of time by the meeting leader. If you are the call leader, be sure to keep things going so the call doesn’t drag on. If you are a member of the call but not the organizer, hold your group accountable to following the agenda at hand without delving into sidebar conversations or small talk. No one enjoys a conference call that never ends.