Stay Calm and Conference on: How to Overcome Conference Call Anxiety
For professionals of all types, conference calling can be a (surprisingly) stressful ordeal. Unlike with traditional face-to-face meetings where you can rely in part on body language and other visual cues to aid with communication, your success with conference calling depends almost entirely on how well you conduct yourself over the phone. If you’re leading a conference call or taking part in a phone interview, this can add to the pressure you feel to make sure every word that comes out of your mouth is perfect. But fear not, conference callers, conference call anxiety is very common and can be dealt with by following these steps:
1. Prepare an Agenda Beforehand
Even if you’re usually one of those “go with the flow” types, preparing a rough outline of what you’re planning to say ahead of time can help you feel more prepared and confident when joining a conference call. If you’re a participant, create a list of five to ten talking points or answers to questions that you anticipate will be brought up during the call. If you’re leading the call, take control early on by going over the agenda with the other callers at the start of your conference so everyone knows the order of topics to be discussed.
2. Cut the Chit Chat
Things are different when you’re addressing a group of people over the phone. While small talk and banter might be good for lightening the mood and building rapport during face-to-face meetings, humor generally doesn’t play out as well over the phone. With multiple people on the phone who are unable to see one another, humor, along with any sense of comedic timing, can get easily lost. To avoid any confusion or potentially awkward misunderstandings that may result from a poorly timed joke, you’re better off sticking to the script, so to speak, and keeping the conversation on-topic at all times.
3. Rehearse, Record, and Review
Another method for beating conference call anxiety is to practice and prepare for your next call beforehand. Conducting a practice conference call with a friend or colleague is the best to familiarize yourself with the conference calling procedure and rehearse what you plan to say for your upcoming call. If mastering the art of the conference call is something you feel you the need to work on, you may want to consider conference call recording. Recording a call not only gives you the opportunity to listen to and review your call at a later time, but it ensures that you have a record of everything that was discussed during the call for your future reference.
4. Take a Deep Breath and Relax
Regardless of who’s on the other end, at the end of the day, a conference call is a conference call. While it’s always a good idea to prepare yourself going into any sort of meeting, tripping over a word or two will not be the end of the world. Prepare your talking points, take a deep breath or two, and call in at the appointed time. Remember: whether you’re leading the call or are an invited guest, you’re taking part in the conference because you’re a smart, capable person with something valuable to contribute.