We often mistake conference calls for casual occasions that we can attend in our pajamas. While COVID has certainly changed how we work, one thing that hasn’t changed is the need to be professional—even when you’re at home. Conference calls, whether they’re video conferences or not, have a few unspoken rules of etiquette you should be aware of in order to present your best self.
Let’s take a look at a few tips that can help you look your best during conference calls.
Conference calling isn’t an excuse to be lazy about what you’re wearing. Many of us have fallen into the (bad) habit of staying in our pajamas all day while working at home. While this might sound like a dream come true, it actually has some serious implications. When you break your work routine with something as simple as not getting dressed for the day, you could be negatively affecting your mental health.
In fact, one of the most important tips for staying healthy while working remotely is to have a routine. Getting dressed is part of that routine, and let’s be honest—you don’t actually want everyone at the office to see you in your mickey mouse jammies. It’s a good idea to always dress for work, even if you’re not going into the office. Yes, it’s nice to cut back now and then, but don’t take advantage of the lack of supervision.
Make sure you have a clear and concise routine and that you stick to it. Your co-workers will thank you for showing up fully dressed, and you’ll make a much better impression on new clients or managers. Don’t underestimate the power of a suit and tie!
Clear Your Background (That Means The Noise, Too)
We often focus on the background noise in a conference call as being the main distraction. While it’s true that background noise can be distracting and even completely derail a call, we need to pay attention to the visual distractions in our environment, too. Things like tapestries, posters, or other background visuals can cause participants to become disengaged, and if your pets or children are running around the meeting space, you’re not going to be very productive.
The best way to avoid these problems is to clear your workspace of overly-noisy distractions, visuals, and pets or children. It’s a good idea to have a separate room that you can work from (preferably with a closing/locking door). Of course, in the event that it’s not enough to remove your background noise, familiarize yourself with the mute button. A good rule of thumb is to always keep yourself muted unless you’re talking.
Don’t Use Custom Video Backgrounds
One of the most common visual distractions in a video conference call is a custom background. So, you’re a fan of Harry Potter; while that’s great, it doesn’t have a place in your work phone call. Keep your backgrounds as plain as possible, so no one is distracted and the call can be productive.
Be Professional And Courteous
Of course, presenting your best self on a conference call is about more than just looking the part and cutting out background noise. You also need to show that you’re a professional by not interrupting others and waiting your turn to talk. There’s nothing more disruptive, distracting, or, quite frankly, obnoxious, than a person who is constantly interrupting everyone else to be heard.
Always wait your turn to speak, and save questions for the end (unless they’re encouraged by the host during the call). Follow the host’s direction, as they’re the one with the agenda. Ensuring you’re courteous shows everyone that you respect both them and their time. This is important to establishing successful professional relationships.
If you want to make the other callers feel like you don’t respect their time, being late is the way to do it. Late-comers to conference calls are not only distracting, but potentially derailing to the call. Now, the participants are forced to backtrack to catch you up with what’s been discussed already, which means you’re going to take up more time. The bottom line? Be on time. Every time. If you’re going to be late, at least let someone (the call host) know you’ll be late and when you should arrive.
Conference calls have kept many businesses alive when their physical doors were forced to close, and it’s a safe bet that conferencing services will play a crucial role in businesses of the future. However, a call is only as effective as the people participating in it. If you’re the host, have an agenda ready so everyone is on the same page right away. Don’t be afraid to mute disruptive callers, and be sure to set goals for post-call productivity.