Conference Call
If you’re a manager, the conference call is probably the most irksome item on your to-do list. The staff of today do not just happen to sit within a cubicle of each other; they are globally scattered. Meeting with them personally might be out of the question, hence the importance of the conference call. It is the needle’s eye any employee, manager or not, has to go through.

As with any form of communication, a conference comes with etiquette. Some points to ponder when making that conference call:

1. Talk in a silent, imperturbable area, especially one away from noisy pets. An open-plan office is a no-no. So unless you can find or maintain a quiet room, hold the mute button until you must talk.

2. Then again, the mute button can stop everyone else from talking; be sure you understand how to use it. Also, know when to use the hold button. Otherwise, every participant would hear hold muzak emanating from your phone.

3. Don’t forget to use the correct phone. Some phones are very sensitive to background noise. Many can even pick up your mere movement on a leather chair: an inconvenient furniture in most cases.

4. Aside from sitting on leather chairs, or scraping any chair for that matter, avoid shuffling papers and tapping pens. These are just a few of the loudest sources of background noise.

5. Arrange for the conference call in advance. Make sure participants know the phone number, passwords and other important info. Also, take your callers’ time zones into account…

6. …and start the conference sharply on time. Do not wait for tardy participants. Roll-call the participants present, and give special mention to those missing in action.

7. Since a conference call is essentially, well, a conference, note-taking is still imperative. So is agenda: Have it ready and distributed beforehand.

8. Introduce yourself. Tell your name before speaking. Never assume the callers recognize your voice, even if this is your umpteenth meeting. Plus, an introduction would do the secretary or note-taker immense good.

9. In the same thought, have every participant introduce themselves. Get even the most aloof one to say hello. It lightens up an otherwise an intimidating setup, where everyone is faced with faceless persons. An introduction infallibly builds relationships.

10. You might want to take advantage of guest speakers. The presence of a relative stranger has a psychological effect on other callers. They would give their rapt attention and be in their best behavior – even though the guest did not last seven minutes into the meeting and has left.

11. Use names to ask for inputs to the discussion. This will save every caller the embarrassment of being caught not listening and requesting to have the query repeated.

12. Control the conversation in a way that one caller does not monopolize it. Also, do not go off-topic. Be considerate of everyone’s time; not everybody may share the same time zone.

13. So be grateful for every caller’s time when ending the meeting. Thank them, and they will look forward to another round of talk with you.

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