Many of your team projects will require Teleconferencing with your client. Here are some tips to improve that experience for everyone involved.

  1. Do use the right phone in a quiet, undisturbed room. If you must use a cell-phone or be in a non-quite area, USE YOUR PHONE’S MUTE BUTTON (or the mute sequence built into most conference calling systems) until you are required to speak, at which point, you should keep it brief. Remember: just because you can hear them well, does not mean they can hear you.
  1. Do learn/practice to use the mute button and other phone technology correctly to avoid a Homer Simpson style “Doh” moment. Your intelligent contributions mean nothing if no one can hear them, and, if they called on you, it’s doubly bad to not be heard.
  1. Don’t shuffle papers, scrape chairs, tap pencils, hum or perform other distracting, noisy activities unless you are muted. It drives people $#@Q@# mad!!!!
  1. Think about the fact you will be talking in front of a group without receiving visual cues or feedback; you must be more attentive to verbal cues. Also, in a mixed mode meeting, remember to stop and ask if there are inputs on the phone, and if you’ll have to signal by phone that you want to speak; no one can see you raise your hand. Having an agreed signal (e.g. hitting a phone key so the DTMF is sent) is often a good way to keep it clean and quick while conveying that a phone speaker wants a turn. In a multi-party skype/online call, it is often good to use an IM/client for texting to show that you want to speak while talking on Skype.
  1. Do treat the conference call as if it were a physical meeting. You know the routine; prepare and circulate an agenda, take notes, follow up afterward, ya da ya da ya da.
  1. Do expect the meeting to begin absolutely on time; business people often don’t reward late comers’ bad behavior by waiting for them. Many take a role call at the start of the meeting, highlighting the missing attendees. It helps to set up the meeting in advance and communicate the dial in number, pass-codes and other information and think about time-zone issues. (world timer planners are your friends here, http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/meeting.html)
  1. Do get each caller to say hello and introduce themselves, and pay attention to the voices while making a list of the names.  Many people forget to introduce themselves when speaking. Even though you may never physically meet, it’s a good relationship builder and using names gets the shyest of people to contribute. Do ask for input by using a person’s name. People will pay more attention to avoid the embarrassment of needing the question repeated.
  1. Don’t assume everyone recognizes your voice. Unless you are disrespecting the boss/professor and want to stay incognito, say your name before you speak. This is particularly important for the poor soul taking  meeting notes.
  1. Don’t allow the topic to wander, even if the client is taking it away (but cut them more slack). Be an stone fist in a velvet glove – polite, but firm regarding people talk too long or over each other. If your callers are 12 hours away at home sitting in their pajamas nursing a hot chocolate, be considerate that all they want is to go to bed.
  1. Do close the meeting formally, thanking everybody for their time. That little bit of recognition will make them feel good about talking to you again.