Speakerphones provide a convenient and practical way to communicate with several people at once, without setting up a formal conference call. However, the misuse and abuse of this convenient technology has given speakerphones a bad name. Most often, the fault lies with the user, not the technology.
When using a speakerphone, follow the basic rules of speakerphone etiquette:
- Obtain consent—Always obtain consent before placing a caller on speakerphone. It is rude and unprofessional to use speakerphone without the other party's knowledge. Tell the person the reason you wish to use speakerphone.
- Introduce the players—Once the other person has consented to be placed on speakerphone, be sure to introduce all of the people in the room. The person has a right to know to whom he is speaking.
- Ensure confidentiality—When you're using speakerphone, it is up to you to ensure confidentiality for the person on the other end. Assure him that you are in a private location and that others wont overhear your conversation.
- Confirm technology—When you place someone on speakerphone, always make sure the technology is functioning properly. Be sure the person can hear you and that everyone on your team can hear as well. Make adjustments if anything is amiss.
- Stay in control—Stay in control of the conversation. Remind people that only one person at a time may talk and be heard. Ask participants to preface comments by stating their name. Remind them that if they cannot hear, it is their responsibility to speak up.
Speakerphones can be beneficial because they permit many people to hear a conversation first hand. If your customer calls with an issue that requires intervention from you, your sales manager, and someone from the accounting department, speakerphone allows all involved parties to come together to discuss the situation. Use speakerphones in a private setting, such as a conference room, or an office with a door. It is inappropriate to use speakerphones in a cubicle setting where others are trying to work.
People are sometimes reluctant to talk on a speakerphone in spite of the fact that it is a useful business tool. The rules of speakerphone etiquette can help to alleviate at least some of the resistance.
Imagine being on speakerphone without your knowledge, or without knowing who is in the room. Imagine the awkwardness of making a negative comment about someone present or revealing information to which certain people shouldn't be privy. Unfortunately, when people don't follow the rules of speakerphone etiquette, these things happen. Remember, the person on the other end of the phone must place his trust in you and feel comfortable if a meaningful dialog is to take place.
Another reason people are reluctant to use speakerphones is often, the technology doesn't work, or so it seems. When you're the one being broadcast to a large group via speakerphone, it can be difficult to know who is speaking. It can be difficult to hear people. Sometimes it feels like no one is in control of the conversation.
The rules for speakerphone etiquette are simple and straightforward. Following them can make the difference between a meeting that is useful and productive and one that is frustrating and unproductive.
Using the rules of speakerphone etiquette will help you reduce the apprehension, or even disdain, so many people feel about speakerphones. With consistent application of the rules, your organization may soon embrace the use of speakerphone as a valuable, efficiency-enhancing business tool.