There are four basic principles that if adopted by all those involved in the call will make the call a productive decision making tool. They are:
• Do not use a 'hold' facility
• Do not use a sub-standard handset
• Do not use 'call waiting'
• Use the mute facility
The reasoning for each of these principles is quite simple. It is important that you avoid putting your phone on hold during a teleconference because if you do the other participants left on the call will have to listen to the phone systems music, which is an unnecessary and very irritating diversion.
Another irritating aspect of conference calls is the static interference others can hear from users of poor quality handsets. You also need to be aware that if you use speakerphones on your calls you will effectively be "clipping off" parts of the conversation as you cannot speak and hear at the same time.
As the underlying technology improves, many of the technical problems associated with conference calls are becoming less common. However, the intrinsic limitations of the medium mean that most people still find it an uncomfortable way to communicate compared to a face-to-face meeting.
In order to overcome these limitations, every organization that uses conference calling should have a set of published guidelines that cover both the technical aspects and the accepted etiquette of conference calls. If your organization does not have such a thing then you should think about producing something yourself, even if it is only for use within your own project.
Preparation is the key to how successful your conference calls will be. The better you plan for the call by setting an agenda, providing a list of other participants and their roles and organizations as well as sending out any background information, the better everyone involved can prepare. This enables each person to have the notes required and their own comments to hand when that agenda item is being discussed.
You may also be interested in: An Introduction to Conference Calls , Types of Conference Call , Technical Issues Affecting Conference Calls , Human Factor Issues , Maintaining Your Productivity , Adapting Your Communication Style , Advance Planning , Controlling the Call and Conference Call Etiquette .