Be a conference call pro

A New World to Navigate Almost Overnight

My last blog talked about joining organizations and attending networking events to build business relationships. But … a couple weeks later, we’re in a whole new world thanks to COVID-19. So, you need new info on how to navigate it. If you’re new to remote working and conference calls, here’s the info you need to find conference call success, brought to you by my friend and colleague, Liana Cassar.


Find Conference Call Success

You’re working remotely. You’re on a conference call … and you’re on your couch in your pajamas. You can’t even pretend that if someone entered the room right now, that they would mistake you for a professional anything.

How do you think that comes across on the phone?!?!?!?

Now, it’s true some people are so well-practiced at their phone communications that they can always come off sounding like they’re in a suit in the corner suite, talking into the speakerphone on the beautiful mahogany desk.

Never assume that’s how you come across.

Bring your A-game. Every call. Every time.

Why? Because if you don’t, you’re wasting someone’s time and chances are, you’re also wasting your time. Set yourself up for conference call success.

Conference Calls SHOULD Equal Communication

We can all agree that a conference call is a phone conversation where more than two people are connected and engaging in conversation for the purposes of communicating information and exchanging ideas. If you didn’t show up to do those things — and do them well — you’re wasting your time and everyone else’s.

And before you start criticizing the other folks on the phone who don’t have the technical skills to manage a mute button, make sure your conference call etiquette is top notch so the calls are more effective and efficient. Nothing is worse than having to say “I’m sorry, can you repeat that? I was multitasking,” because when you say that, everyone knows the reality is you weren’t listening.

Yes, There ARE Challenges

Let’s start by acknowledging that conference calls are fraught with challenges. You’re generally alone in a place that may not be your regular office. Often there’s an open computer in front of you with internet tabs calling your name and notifications popping up constantly. Usually, you’re not the person who scheduled the call, but your presence is still required.

If you want to become the person who commands the presence of others on conference calls, it had better never be obvious that you’re in yesterday’s sweatpants and laying on your bed when you’re on a conference call.

You need to take everything about the call as seriously as if you were sitting next to your boss in the executive conference room presenting to your top client.

The DOs & DON’Ts of Conference Calls

What does bringing your A-game to a conference call look like?

Yes, you:

  • Take the call someplace quiet and where you can stay for the duration of the call.
  • Dial in 1-2 minutes before the scheduled time.
  • Announce yourself, provide your title or role, and what you’re bringing to the call, especially if you’re not familiar with all parties involved.
  • Know how to use your mute button and then use it when you’re not speaking.
  • Know how to use your mute button to UNMUTE yourself when you need to speak or answer a question.
  • Make sure you are sitting or standing comfortably — you’ll be easily distracted otherwise.
  • LISTEN.
  • Listen to the entire call.
  • Listen to everyone on the call.
  • Respond when you are addressed.
  • Be specific when asking a question, especially if it needs to be directed to a specific someone.
  • If accidentally disconnected, announce your presence again (at a moment when you’re not being disruptive.)
  • Follow along with the agenda (if there is one … lack of agenda is another blog topic!)
  • Be present throughout the call.
  • Respect other people’s time.

No, You Do Not:

  • Lurk. Don’t dial in and fail to announce yourself.
  • Mumble. It’s your job to be heard, not for others to decipher your sounds.
  • Make noises other than speaking to the other participants on the call (that includes sarcastic snorts and exasperated sighs.)
  • Multitask. Don’t do any activities unrelated to the call, including surfing the web, or checking your email, etc.
  • Ask people to repeat themselves because you weren’t listening.
  • Be too casual. The call is a professional setting, even if you are not taking the call in a professional setting.
  • Be shy on your call. If you are expected to participate, participate!
  • Depend on your facial expressions — people can’t see them and they’re silent!!
  • Abandon the call because of a disruption on your end without notifying the host or facilitator.

Be a Conference Call Pro

Basically, don’t be the participant who turns your call into this, funny enough though it is.

Instead, bring your A-game — every call. You’ll build trust from your colleagues; they’ll know being on a call with you isn’t a waste of time and effort. And you’ll discover you’re more efficient, too.


Liana Cassar of Cassar Consulting

Liana Cassar runs Cassar Consulting, a strategy- and operations-coaching and capacity-building consulting venture, working with mission-driven and women-led organizations. She is also serving in her first term as a State Representative for District 66 (Barrington/Riverside) in the RI House of Representatives.

Liana has worked in the health care and public health sectors in Rhode Island and Massachusetts holding various positions focused on veterans health issues, public health in low income communities, reproductive health, ​and healthcare technology.

She holds an MPH from Boston University and an MBA from Simmons College. She is a Returned Peace Corps Community Development Volunteer, who served in Costa Rica. She and her family live in Rhode Island.