How can skills that normally promote your personal brand equity cause serious damage during a teleconference?
Understanding how to manage your personal brand during a multiuser teleconference goes beyond just adhering to the basic rules of conference call etiquette. A misstep during a call can mean serious damage to the brand of you, not to mention the brand of the site or office that you’re calling from.
Communicating in person amidst a room full of people is like a spacious superhighway where everyone drives in their own lane. Everyone is staying within their own space; everyone is focusing on surroundings, staying aware of other cars; everyone is adjusting their driving relative to the speed and distance of the nearby cars.
In a teleconference, though, it’s now rush hour and all those cars are now merging into the same tunnel. That’s why when it comes to your personal brand equity, this particular environment can make for hazardous conditions.
Here are five easy ways to ruin your brand during a teleconference. Driver beware.
- Being unaware of choice and voice.The word choice you use and the tone of voice delivering those words while on a call can impact your brand. Without the help of facial expressions and body language, what is meant as sarcasm or humor when you’re delivering a message in person can come across as unprofessional or even disrespectful when your voice is the only signal coming across. This doesn’t at all mean check your sense of humor or engagement at the door; just be aware that the microphone has the ability to distort and filter your intentions, leaving only the words.
- Being overly loud on the call.Loud doesn’t mean assertive. Loud means annoying. While having a strong executive presence is a key enabler in promoting your personal brand equity when speaking to a room of people, those same benefits can turn on you while on a call. In person, when you are speaking in a conference room, your voice is directional. People see you speaking and your body language helps convey individual moods, passions, ideas. In a teleconference, you are just one voice in a traffic jam of voices. By all means speak up and speak clearly so your voice can be heard, but using the volume of your voice solely to overtake a conversation will only come across as rude or disrespectful. You brand will suffer and you will just become “that guy/gal who always talks over everyone.” Use your “inside” voice and your brand equity will live to see another day.
- Not managing side comments.Side conversations can become center stage. A side conversation in a conference room that may be undetectable during an in-person meeting can evolve into distracting white noise during a teleconference. Teleconference microphones are increasingly sensitive these days and even the most hushed conversations can be amplified greatly. Keep side talk to a minimum during the call. And if you’re calling from home, be sure the neighbor’s barking dog is out of earshot.
- Not knowing when you are on/off mute.“Sorry I was on mute!” is a sentence many of us have uttered. It generates chuckles the first time because we’re all only human. But the second and third time it happens on the same call, it can hint at distracted inattention. “Is this person really engaged in this call or are they just doing something else? Is the discussion not important to this person?” people may wonder, rightly or wrongly. When it comes to your brand equity, perception can often trump reality. Even if you’re the most detail oriented, active listener in the entire office, appearing to repeatedly not know when you’re on mute or asking questions previously asked, will all swing your brand equity far into the dark side. Be a strategic muter: Mute when you’re listening (and really listen—use all your will to resist the urge to multitask), unmute when you’re speaking and don’t lose your place while switching between the two.
- Not realizing if the phone is on or off.That green LED light on most teleconferencing devices is your friend; and it’s a vital protector of your brand equity. Double, and triple check that the phone is really turned off when you expect it to be. Not doing so risks embarrassment and irreparable damage to your brand, not to mention the inappropriate sharing of strategic or confidential information.
After the teleconference has ended and the group on the other end has disconnected, you are no longer in the room to defend yourself. Your equity lingers on and has to fend for itself, subject to the residual impressions you have made with your audience. The people on the other side are still thinking about what you’ve said and how you’ve said it.
And your equity is either getting voted up or voted out.
Keep that at the top of your mind when you’re on the line and always be protecting your brand, even if it’s only your voice doing the talking.
Published May 16, 2013 by Austin Lin
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of and should not be attributable to the National Society of Professional Engineers.