Speaker phones originated with the question, “can you allow someone who is not in a meeting to “sit-in” and participate?” It’s a nice solution for the company meeting that has staff away from headquarters.
From there the speaker came to be – a hands free solution to the talker who needed two hands. Today a speaker phone is so second nature it’s somewhat over used, yet simultaneously obsolete. We have cameras now for virtual conferencing and the chat where you can have multiple participants type in to a memo of interactions.
Regardless of how the speaker phone is used, often its use is abused. Here are a few suggestions to be both efficient and considerate when using a speaker phone.
First and foremost greet. If you are dialing someone and there are a number of people in your office say hello and allow those in the room to do the same. Identify yourself and those in the room…all of them. If you are in the room and the initial speaker does not state that you are in the room and part of the conversation, it is up to you to speak up and introduce yourself. Also, because the listener can’t see your facial expressions, and you theirs, make sure everyone who is involved knows why certain people are in on this conference call.
Next, speak with a smile. When you are smiling you will not come off as someone who’s in a bad mood and just yelling. Because let’s face it: when you are in a room and talking at a phone, unless you have a handset you are going to be talking louder than usual. But because you are in a crowd, it does not mean you are speaking to one. If you are many, and the one on the other side of the line is alone, try not to yell into the speaker phone because, well it comes off like you are yelling. Hence the need for the smile on your face – it softens your voice.
You also want to avoid gang mentality. The speaker phone is NOT for throwing someone under the bus. You do not make a call with others in the room and then ask the receiver of the call to “explain themselves.” Picking on someone or any type of gang mentality is unacceptable. Speaker phones are meant to be used as an efficient business tool. Not as a tear-down.
Finally the speaker phone is only for a hands free situation or for a crowd situation. It is not meant to be used because you just enjoy yelling at the phone.
Quick and easy just to remember:
Always greet and introduce.
If you have not been identified, take it upon yourself to say hello
Never hang up on anyone.
Close the conversation and wrap up properly.
To close, before you initiate a conference call or dial someone on the speaker phone, ask yourself, “Can I go to their office?” Before you ever call (speaker or otherwise) ask if it can be quickly and more effectively done in person. People are more polite face to face. So ask yourself if you can be more effective in person.
Conference calls and speaker phones can be utilized to make business an easier and more effective tool than anyone can expect. It can, however, just as easily backfire and make for a more difficult work environment so use it wisely.