How to Be Professional On Conference Calls

For many employees who are now working from home, every day is Casual Friday. In fact, the home office may be the only office where pants are optional.

Working from home is proven to increase productivity, reduce stress and improve work-life balance for employees. However, it can be difficult to maintain professionalism in the workplace when your office has a bed in it—especially if you’re wearing Batman pajama bottoms.

In this blog, we’ll teach you how to conference call like a boss with our top tips for online meeting etiquette.

Before the Call

Look at the agenda before the meeting and collect any assets you may need

Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed.

Barking dogs, noisy neighbors and traffic sounds can be extremely disruptive to conference calls. Excessive background noise can also make it difficult for others to hear you when you speak.

Dress to impress.

For videoconferences, it’s important that you look just as presentable as you would attending a meeting at the office, even if you’re attending from home. Yes, even from the waist down. Even though others may not be able to see your fluffy bunny slippers via webcam, wearing professional attire puts you in a professional mindset.

Make sure your environment is presentable.

Clutter can be distracting. Spend a little time cleaning up your environment and make sure that your camera feed looks neat and organized. The same goes for your computer desktop and web browser. You never know when you may need to share your screen, and you don’t want your manager to think that the rest of your life is as unorganized as your desktop.

Make sure you have a reliable Internet connection.

Wi-Fi is the enemy of effective communication. Nothing slows down a meeting like intermittent dropouts and lag. Make sure you use a hard-wired LAN connection whenever possible to keep your connection stable.

Come prepared.

Look at the agenda before the meeting and spend some time collecting any assets you may need, such as PDFs, spreadsheets or notes from a previous meeting. Put together a list of questions you have about the topic and make sure they’re answered during the meeting.

Use a high-quality USB microphone.

Your built-in computer microphone makes it sound like you’re calling from the office bathroom. It captures a ton of excess room noise, making it difficult for people to hear you. In order to sound professional, it’s best to use a Skype-Certified USB microphone like Snowball iCE or Yeti, the world’s #1 USB microphone.

Use an HD webcam for videoconferences.

For smaller online meetings, using a webcam can make meetings feel more intimate or personal and significantly improves non-verbal communication. However, a grainy built-in webcam can be more distracting than helpful. Show off your professional attire and organized workspace with an affordable HD webcam like the Logitech C922.

Use headphones to avoid creating an echo.

When using your built-in speakers or even external computer speakers, your microphone can pick up the call audio, causing an awful echo effect on everyone’s voice. To avoid this, simply use a pair of headphones or earbuds.

Test your equipment before the call.

Set up 10-15 minutes before the call to test out your audio levels and camera setup. Delaying a meeting due to technical difficulties is at the top of the list of unprofessional faux pas, so make sure you’re ready to go when the meeting is scheduled to begin.

Starting the Call

Join the call one or two minutes before the scheduled start time

Make sure you’re early.

Join the call one or two minutes before the scheduled start time to show your supervisors you’re punctual, prepared and professional.

Introduce yourself when joining the call.

Even though most conference call software includes a list of participants, it’s best to introduce yourself when joining a call to make sure everyone knows you’re ready to contribute.

Make small talk to fill the silence.

Since you joined early, you’ll have to wait a few moments while the rest of your colleagues log on. Don’t be afraid to chitchat to fill the silence. This can help build rapport between colleagues.

On large calls, introduce yourself before speaking.

This is less important on smaller calls with a few easily distinguishable voices, but on larger conference calls, it’s best to introduce yourself before speaking. Something simple like: ‘Brad here, just wondering what the sales figures were for Q4?’

During the Call

Make sure you stay present, sit up straight and look at the camera

Address people by name when speaking to them.

This helps avoid unnecessary silence and prevents two people from trying to answer the same question at the same time.

Use the mute button.

Excessive background noise is distracting. Try to leave your microphone muted when not in use to keep the audio lines clean and improve communication for everyone.

Just don't forget to un-mute...

This one’s a classic. How many times have you been on a call where someone asks a question followed by five seconds of silence, only to discover the speaker ‘forgot their mic was still muted’. Don’t get caught making this rookie mistake.

Use proper body language.

Over two-thirds of communication is non-verbal, which is why body language is crucial to getting your point across while videoconferencing. Make sure you stay present, sit up straight and look at the camera. Slouching can make you seem disinterested and may even come across as rude.

Take notes or record the meeting.

Someone on your team may be designated to record meeting minutes, but that doesn't always capture the full story—especially in the context of your department. Plus, taking notes with pen and paper is better for retention.

Don’t eat or drink anything.

Some days, it can be difficult to find time for a bite to eat—but that’s no excuse to scarf down your soup and salad combo while on a conference call. Similarly, don’t chew gum, bite your nails, or loudly type on your keyboard. All of these sounds can be extraordinarily loud when amplified by a microphone.

Pay attention.

Conference calls can be boring, which can make it tempting to start scrolling through your social media feed or even watching the latest viral videos on YouTube (while muted, of course). Be professional by respecting everyone’s time and giving them your full attention. The same goes for multi-tasking. You may think you’re helping by sending emails or prepping a deck while on a call, but you could be missing out on important information.

Follow these simple tips for being professional during online meetings and conference calls. For even more advice on how to improve your digital meetings and videoconferences, check out our blog on how to make professional-sounding conference calls from home.