7 things you should never say on a conference call

Conference call etiquette is something we’ve mentioned before. When it comes to conference calling, most people will tell you what you need to do, but what you need to make sure of, is also what you mustn’t do.  So when you’re thinking about how to conference call, here are 7 things you should never say:

No one really likes repeating themselves time and time again, so it’s best you don’t ask who’s on the call. Conference call services are great for introducing yourself by asking you to state your name. So as long as you follow that prompt, it will inform participants that you have joined the call as well as let you know who has joined.

If you join a call late and you’re worried about how to introduce yourself, you’ll only make it worse if you interrupt the speaker by starting to explain why you were late – especially if they’re in the middle of talking. So unless the participants stop their meeting and greet you (that will be the time you can explain), then it’s best you quietly join the meeting and explain at the end of the conference call if necessary.

A good way to think about what the right approach is, is by thinking about how you’d enter a meeting late in person. You don’t storm in and make a big fuss over why you were late, therefore don’t do it on a call. The standard etiquette is to quietly enter the room and start speaking if you’re addressed by the other participants – so the approach is the same for a call.

As with anything, there are certain ways to say things. Too often than not, people try to get their head around what the aim of a meeting is when they join it (which is perfectly normal), but you also don’t want to insult the host by inferring that they haven’t made it clear. If you’re not sure about the agenda of a call, it’s best to do your due diligence first. Most will include an agenda or the purpose of the meeting in their calendar invite when they schedule their meeting, but if that isn’t the case, then it’s best to ask the host prior to the call so it doesn’t look unprofessional.

This way, it’ll show that you’re using your initiative to make sure the aim is clear, rather than making the host look bad.

Especially in business, it’s important to choose your words wisely. If you ask the host of one of the participants “what they mean by that”, then it could look like one of two things, both of which are bad. The first is that it could look like you weren’t listening, so you’re trying to cover it up and buy time by asking the person speaking to repeat themselves, or, it could make it look like they explanation isn’t clear – which doesn’t make them look good.

A good way to avoid both of those situations, is to contextualise your question. By being more specific and asking a question like “Jeremy – when you ask what our thoughts were, did you mean about the channels we’re looking to target or the idea itself”, this will also clarify exactly what you’re asking for, rather than making a general question that isn’t clear.

You’d be surprised how many people say that. Background noise is never ideal for a conference call or an in-person meeting. So again, your choice of language is crucial as this can come off as passive aggressive. Instead, simply asking “for those that aren’t talking, could you please put yourself on mute” is a much more efficient way than stopping a meeting and asking participants one by one to mute their line to determine who has background noise.

Questions are great if participants want to clarify some points but not when questions end up hijacking your meeting. If you know you’re going to be on a call with someone who loves to ask questions, our top tip would be to lead the call by saying “I’m just going to take you through my plans and then feel free to ask any questions at the end.” This will make sure you lead them into what they do on the call.

If you’re looking to wrap up a meeting for whatever reason, rather than making it sound like you’ve had enough, wrapping the call up with action items from the meeting is a much better way to naturally bring the call to an end, especially if there are participants who like to talk much longer than necessary.

Want to see what confessions people have admitted to? See the top conference call confessions here.