The digital age bears witness to the use of audio conferencing to connect people from across the country in one real-time discussion. If you are attending your first conference call you may have a false idea of the real process. It is just a virtual meeting. It is not an informal call that deserves less respect than any other meeting.

A personal conference call from the comfort of your home may grant you some leeway in your appearance and dress, but that is all.

The key to having a successful conference call is having a clear understanding. You have to understand the differences and similarities that it has with a normal conference or meeting.

Preparation for your conference call will be very similar to preparation for any conference or discussion. You need to have reviewed all the related materials and have an established understanding of the issues before you go into the meeting. One of the best ways to ruin a teleconference is to have an uninformed audience barely comprehending the speakers. There are a few extra steps of preparation that should be remembered though.

You should have your dial-in code in an accessible location to avoid the last-minute panic to find your number. Your conference call equipment should also be checked to ensure that everything is how you want it. The microphone should be set at an audible volume that isn’t too loud and any loud noisemakers around your desk or on your person should be turned off or put away.

Finally, a good conference call will usually have an established plan with time allocated carefully to each part. You should take a few minutes and understand just how the meeting is going to break down so that you can adapt your questions and speeches to meet the agenda.

The conference call itself mainly just requires basic etiquette that you would show at any other meeting. You shouldn’t think of it as informal. Don’t think that you can multitask or do what you want during the boring parts. You aren’t really in your own world.

Background noise is often very clear during a conference call and eating a bag of potato chips during your boss’s speech is probably not a good idea. Remember to speak clearly since your audience will rely solely on audio cues for information since your facial expression will not be seen by anyone outside the room. Most important of all, you need to stay involved and leave a good impression.

A host should follow a few special rules for their conference. The host should log on early to greet members as they sign in and introduce them to each other. Remember to introduce new speakers and clearly give a little background information on anyone involved so that listeners have a good understanding of all the information.

Also, try and keep the discussion guided and manage any distractions to keep everyone on track for the most productive meeting possible.

If you follow all of these basic tips you should find yourself on the path to a good conference call. Just show basic respect to everyone and you will be fine.

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