As most of you know, there are times when a client requires you to participate in a pre-event conference call. Sometimes these are done in very large groups that can make logistics challenging with time zones and schedules. Regardless of size though, there’s some basic etiquette involved with these phone-a-thons. Here are a few simple rules.
1) Once you’ve dialed in and gotten onto “the bridge” where the call is being hosted, pause a moment before you speak. Don’t just blurt your name out. No matter what time your clock reads, the call may have started or the host may be waiting to take a complete roll call at one time. Wait to hear some activity, and then politely join in as instructed. This is especially true if you’re calling in late, since most likely the roll call has been done and the client may have started the meeting or be reviewing details. Don’t disrupt the process.
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2) Waiting is also important in regard to questions and comments. Your host may indicate that he or she wants to hold all questions until the end, or may invite you to speak up as needed. Either way, know that there can be a delay between when you or the others speak and when you’re heard. Sometimes as much as a full second. Don’t talk on top of others, and be mindful of when it’s appropriate to “raise your hand” with a question. If the group is big, always identify yourself when you speak so the client or host knows who/where/what location is raising the issue or commenting in case the answer is specific to your venue.
3) Mute and unmute are very important words. Please know how to use these buttons. Barking dogs, crying babies, lawnmowers, doorbells, sleigh bells and other distractions are just not cool. I once was on a call when — and I’m not making this up — someone was in their car in a drive-through and we heard every item they were ordering. Not only was this terribly disrupting and annoying, it should have been incredibly humiliating for the guilty party due to the enormous order they were placing and comments going back and forth as they ordered. And, do we even need to add a reminder about toilet flushing? Apparently we do, because that, too, is heard on many a conference call.
4) Finally, don’t risk embarrassing yourself and those you’re working with by asking questions that have been answered in documents or other information sent before the call. It’s important to stay on top of every notice sent to you regarding the upcoming conference call, even if you think it’s redundant. As we all know, in event management, the smallest details can make the biggest difference.