Everyone, no matter what the industry, engages in a conference call or online meeting at least once a week. It’s probably safe to assume that by now most of us are pros at these virtual meetings, right? Unfortunately, no. We’ve all been in that 9:00 am meeting with people frantically asking for their access pins, forced to listen to someone else’s hold music, and of course endured those eternal 5 minutes where the only words said are “Hello, can you hear me?”

Here are 10 Golden Rules for conference calls you can use to rescue your Monday meetings, and your sanity.

10. Take it easy on yourself and enable auto-recording.

Engineers love extra features and widgets in applications. One of the best time savers, however, is the recording feature which is later turned into a transcription by Cue. Missed something on a call? Listen to the recording or check the transcript later. Callbridge comes with auto-recording. Turn it on, and your call recording will start immediately you get on the line.

9. Dial-in at least 10 minutes before the call.

Try not to cut time short getting on your call. 10 minutes should be more than enough time for you to upload documents, answer questions, and discuss unrelated matters with your peers. And if you find yourself in trouble, 10 minutes should be enough for you to contact your service provider (us!) to help you out.

8. Do proper due diligence.

How many times has someone invited you to a conference call using a new service provider without having at least a practice conference call to see how things work? Most conferencing systems are pretty easy to figure out, but not all have the same key codes, user interface conventions, or features. Make a good impression on your customer – if it’s a new conferencing system, try it out first.

7. Take a minute to introduce yourself and your participants

Some conference calling services like Callbridge have the ability to identify and display individual callers. Even better – familiarize yourself with each participant’s voice. That will let you keep better track of action items, follow-ups and minutes.

6. Don’t cut costs when it comes to customers.

The web has many free dial-in methods to choose from. Beware that many of these technologies appear to offer great benefits but are indeed “works in progress”. It’s better to invest a little money than to risk losing a sale or creating a bad impression at an important meeting. It doesn’t even cost that much.

5. Speak clearly and enunciate properly.

We live in a globalized world. Even if your business is limited to North America, bear in mind that you may have many participants for whom English is not their first language. Speaking in a paced fashion will not only portray you as a clear speaker but will also give others time to take down notes.

4. Do not engage in side conversations.

Everybody went through at least 12 years of school where they learned to keep quiet and let the teacher do the talking. Why is it that as soon as we put our suits on this lesson flies out the window? Side conversations result in confusion, ambient noise, and not to mention, are plain rude. Callbridge makes it easy to manage the entire conversation – you can raise your hand to speak or jot down notes in the chat window.

3. Give people the chance to talk.

Meetings are all about active conversations. Regardless of your seniority in the company, studies have shown that dictatorial management results in poor leadership and is conducive to miscommunication. Let your co-workers talk. Not only might you learn something new, but you will let them feel that their contribution is sought after.

2. Dial-in using the correct phone number and PIN.

Sorry to be repetitive… it’s just that we get a lot of last minute emails asking for the dial-in number. In addition, some calls use unique access codes for security. Fortunately, you can find your PIN in the email or SMS invite you received!

1. If you’ve got nothing to say please mute yourself.

Ever wonder why noise starts to build up in large conference calls? Have you asked yourself where is that desperate typing coming from? If you are chatting with your friends on Facebook, please mute yourself. Everyone can hear your typing! Hit *6, or the mute button on the Callbridge user interface, and you’ll be able to listen in (and do a little work on the side) without anyone else knowing.

And now, go have a few productive and enjoyable conference calls!