Tips for Conference Calls: No More Nerves

By Jacqueline Schaalje

conference call NASA

Your very first international conference call may make you feel nervous or even frightened. But try not to panic, either before or during the conference call. Panicking always makes us lose our focus and our ability to concentrate. This could lead to you forgetting the meanings of certain English words and phrases. If you feel yourself beginning to become frightened or nervous, breathe!! Then answer the next question. The other people on the line will appreciate your taking the time to be thoughtful about your answers. They will mostly understand and appreciate that you are foreign and are therefore nervous. They would be nervous too if they were in your shoes!

Here are a few other useful tips:

  • Practice with the software before the meeting. Skype, Google Talk, and MegaMeeting are some of the names of the software that your employers may be using. You will receive all of the login information along with your scheduled time for the telephone conference call in advance. Once you are aware of the brand of teleconferencing software being used, download the necessary system information and begin experimenting on how to use it with your friends and teachers. This will instantly relieve some of your stress on the day of the actually meeting.
  • Write down some key phrases. You can keep a short list of special keywords and phrases along with their definitions and meanings next to your computer. Just keep the list out of view of the other conference call members. Practice using them in a sentence and in responses to some of your practice questions. Some useful phrases to help you get noticed might include:
    1. “May I jump in here?” This phrase can be used if the conversation is moving too quickly and you feel that you are being left behind.
    2. “Do you understand my point?” This is a way of soliciting a response from your interviewers and inviting them to ask you additional follow-up questions. Your interviewer may ask you this same question as well, making sure that you fully understand what was just said.
    3. “Feel free to correct me if you disagree. I am happy to clarify my points further if you like.” This shows that you are confident in your answers and are ready to back them up upon further questioning.
  • Pay attention to names and eye contact. If you are on camera, your body language and facial expressions are going to be just as important as what you say. Remain relaxed. Look your interviewers in the eye, and always use their first or last names at least once in each response. Using their names in teleconference calls without video is just as important.
  • Prepare to make “small talk”. As you login to the conference call, there may be a short period of time before the official interview begins where each of the members on the call introduce themselves and make “small talk”. They may ask you about the weather in your part of the world, ask about each other’s families, or talk about their work day. This is a terrific opportunity to make a great first impression. Be prepared to have something to say, something friendly that shows how confident you are and how easy you are to talk to.

Above all, do not be afraid to ask others on the conference call to repeat their questions, to provide further clarification, or to simply slowdown in their speaking patterns. This is common practice on conference calls, even in conversations between native English speakers. Remember, you are a valuable asset to their company, because of your skills and know-how. If this is an interview, keep in mind that they would be lucky to have you as an employee. Do not be easily intimidated, but always be polite and friendly. And above all else, smile! Even if you are not taking part in a video conference call, people can always “hear” the smile in your voice!

Now go get that job or that business deal!

Also read this interesting article about What really happens during conference calls. You may get a surprise!

If you’re an Exclusive Member, you can click here to do a quiz online about the above article.

Choose the right answer:

1 What makes people nervous about conference calls?

A Sheer panic.

B They fear that the language will be difficult and/or they won’t understand.

C It’s their first time.

D The people on the other side of the line can’t see your smile.

2 Why should you try avoiding panicking?

A It makes you stop breathing.

B You’ll forget what you wanted to say.

C It ruins your yoga practice.

D Your partners will lose patience with you because you slow down the conversation.

3 What should you in the event of a panic attack hitting you in the middle of your call?

A Breathe.

B Write down some notes.

C Answer the next question.

D Think Zen. The call is almost over.

4 Why is it important to try out the software that you will be using for the call?

A To not make a fool of yourself when you’ll actually be using it.

B To test whether the login actually works.

C To take away some of the stress.

D To be able to discuss the different brands with your employer.

5 What should you do with the list of phrases and keywords that you prepared for the conference call?

A Keep them hidden.

B Practise difficult words.

C Use them when you get stuck, or as a reminder for when you need a certain word.

D  To make sure you are confident during the call.

6 The phrase “May I jump in here?” is used when:

A The conversation is about things you don’t want to discuss.

B The conversation is about things that are irrelevant to you.

C The conversation is moving too slowly.

D The conversation is moving too quickly.

7 When do you ask the question: “Do you understand my point?”?

A When you want to elicit further questions or remarks from your conversation partners.

B When you think your conversation partners have asked enough questions.

C When you’re in doubt whether your conversation partners have understood you.

D When you want to back up your ideas with more arguments.

8 Name a similarity between real-life talks and conference calls.

A You can see each other so don’t twirl your pen or fiddle with your fingers.

B  Don’t pull strange faces.

C  Use names a lot and promote eye contact.

D All of the above.

9 What should you NOT discuss when making small talk?

A Your partners’ families.

B The weather.

C Work matters: who got a promotion, who got hired, who left, new projects.

D International politics.

10 What can you learn from native English speakers in a conference call?

A They never slow down.

B They never ask to repeat a question.

C They ask for clarification when needed.

D Their speech patterns are superior.

Do you want to become an Exclusive Member of English with a Smile? Check out the possibilities here.

4 thoughts on “Tips for Conference Calls: No More Nerves

  1. Very useful advice. It’s amazing how much a little bit of preparation beforehand can really help relax you before an important call. It’s an interesting point about preparing small talk. For many nationalities like Germans, small talk is not common in business and can be very difficult to do, so preparing some small topics would be a useful step.


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