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Conference Call Business Etiquette

Some conference calls, for smaller business groups, consist of several people calling in to a conference-call line at one participant’s business office. That person conferences everyone together by pressing the conference button for each addition. Other types of conference calls are monitored, meaning that all participants call a central number and are placed in the conference by speaking to an operator or by entering a password.

You should always identify yourself when you join a call, but do so with caution. On a monitored call, you may not be able to hear other speakers for a few seconds, so don’t announce yourself immediately; if you do, you may step on another speaker.

Don’t ever sit in complete silence on a call without announcing yourself. The other callers deserve to know everyone who is listening to them. Not announcing your presence is akin to hiding behind the curtains in the boardroom.

Try to identify yourself each time you speak during a conference call. That way, you can compensate for the lack of visual clues. And remember to be especially considerate about other people’s contributions to the conference. Give each person enough time to finish what he or she is saying before you reply.

Most teleconferencing systems today have mute features. However, if the conference call is open to everyone, remember that every additional person on a phone call adds an extra layer of background noise. When you’re on a conference call, put your phone on mute unless you’re actually speaking. Don’t forget to take yourself off mute when you have something to say. This rule is amazingly hard to remember.

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