Anyone who has ever sat through a less-than-perfect remote conference call will get a kick out of this Tripp and Tyler video showcasing the numerous things that can go wrong. Luckily, most colleagues are pretty understanding when Rex trots in from outside to bark his two-cents or (as the “BBC dad” famously learned) when your child decides to make a guest cameo.
Trying to maintain professionalism, however, should be a top consideration for remote workers. Efficient communication is vital to productivity, and the last thing you want is to miss information or waste time.
With this in mind, here are five remote conference call mistakes to avoid:
1. Failing to check technology.
“Remote calls can require the need for a conference line and a screen-sharing tool—meaning, your computer, projection software, phone system and screen sharing must all be working properly,” says Jessica Loseke, director, management consultants, Talent Plus, Inc. “If just one of those components is out of order, it can stall the meeting for both internal and external participants.”
The solution: test out equipment beforehand. Troubleshooting, downloading, and securing an access code will seem much less daunting when done without time-pressed coworkers waiting for you.
2. Overlooking supporting material.
Examine the agenda and other related documents before the meeting starts. Entering the call with a clear concept of what will be discussed and a list of your questions/ideas saves time, shows respect for fellow participants, and keeps you from missing dialogue while playing catch-up.
If you’re the one sharing material, send it early enough for readers to process. Ensure receipt and proper transmission by requesting confirmation.
3. Becoming disengaged.
While you may not be as blatantly preoccupied as the woman in the video who decides to play solitaire during the meeting, watch out for distraction. Actions that would be rude when gathered in a conference room should be avoided during remote gatherings, too. (Yes, that includes peeking at Facebook or constructing a grocery list.)
4. Conversation extremes.
Active, yet considerate, participation reflects well on you. But cues can be difficult to pick up on when people aren’t together. (Video conferencing can help.) Thus, monopolizing types may wish to consciously pause to allow others to join in, and wallflowers must find opportunities to make their presence known or run the risk of appearing disinterested.
If you do happen to accidentally cut someone off or jump in at the same time as a teammate, simply apologize. People understand the nature of the beast, and deciding who has the floor usually occurs quickly.
5. Forgetting to identify yourself.
Finally, remember that conference calls can be tricky, especially with a large group. Prefacing your contribution with a quick statement such as “This is Mary, and I have a question for Paul” can help with flow and clarity. Don’t leave others wondering who is making all those awesome observations!