Teleconferencing Etiquette for Your Business
BY: ERICA BELL ON MONDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2012
Teleconferencing is an essential aspect of many businesses. With partners overseas or across the country, connecting face-to-face can prove to be challenging. Teleconferencing is a great option, but, just as with every other area of business, has proper etiquette. With email, it’s polite to address the other person in every correspondence and sign at the end. But, how exactly does professional etiquette apply to teleconferencing? Here are 4 quick tips about remaining professional while teleconferencing.
Check the Tech
The entire meeting you’re about to have largely depends on functional technology. Make sure your phone service, camera, speakers, and microphones are all working properly. For a glitch-free meeting, make sure every piece of tech is working well. If you can’t hear one another or there’s an undertone, your meeting can quickly head down the wrong track. If your video goes out, you still need to be able to talk to one another. If you are using a central phone on speaker phone, turn off call waiting during the teleconference. Lastly, consider how many people are in the room to determine where microphones should be placed so everyone can be heard clearly.
Invite everyone to join the teleconference with plenty of notice and send a reminder a day or two before. Making sure everyone knows how to join the call is also important as time can be wasted waiting for others to connect. If there are specific materials needed for a successful meeting, confirm beforehand with attendees that they are aware of any things that may need to be completed before the conference call. Before the teleconference even starts, have an agenda and any additional materials available for everyone attending. As the teleconference leader, you can keep things focused and negate side conversations and issues by moving from one topic on the agenda to the next.
Stay on Topic
When the call begins, ask your team to introduce themselves. If it’s a large meeting where not everyone will speak, only have the key players do so at the beginning. During a call, always identify yourself before speaking for the first time with something such as “Bob here: I want to discuss…” If you’re using video, once is enough. If you’re only on a phone, reintroduce yourself the first couple times as needed. Make sure you pause between topics to encourage discussion. If things get off topic, redirect everyone in the conference to the agenda politely, and move on to the next topic. Address people specifically to avoid silent moments that can arise from a question directed at everyone.
When the teleconference has completed, ask employees and your client for feedback. What could be done differently? What did they like and not like about the way the teleconference was handled? It’s important to get employee feedback to determine if the teleconference was worth the time and if there are any changes they would like to see for a better conference the next time around. Technology is often a factor in the feedback businesses receive, so asking for suggestions can help you determine whether video is actually needed in your teleconferences or if multiple speakers will help people stay focused.
The etiquette of a teleconference is in making sure everyone is prepared and focused. If that means a one month notice with three reminders and an agenda sent out 36 hours beforehand, that’s what needs to be done. Having a plan of action before the call starts will help you manage the conference, ensuring things start and end on time. Whether you use VoIP phones or traditional landlines, or are running a video conference or teleconference, being prepared, polite, and direct are the best measures you can take for a professional and successful teleconference.