How to improve unspoken communication on a conference call

Verbal signals are an important part of all communication. But conference call communication depends on verbal and non-verbal signalling. In the age of teleconferencing (and seemingly its glory year!), they’re vital signs into how successful an interaction is. You may be pitching to a prospective client, it may be your weekly team catch up, or you may be a director presenting to an entire department. No matter the purpose of the call, if you are trying to deliver an engaging conference call, getting clued up on non-verbal and verbal signals is crucial. They can indicate that somebody is losing interest. Picking up on these feelings gives you the chance to try and improve things.

Read through our guide about some of the ways to improve communication on a conference call, by reading signals that call participants aren’t invested. We’ll also advise on what to do to turn things around.

Interjections are telling aspects of communication on a conference call

Good communication on a conference call means reading – and boosting – people’s levels of enjoyment. If you are concerned about the enjoyment levels on your conference calls, you should take a look at the different tones of voice. While we can’t expect everyone heading up meetings to be language experts, knowing what to look for could help to keep things productive by learning key conference call communication tips.


Call participants who are enthralled in conversation are likely to be affirmative when spoken to. However, using informal and assertive language can symbolise someone’s unwillingness to give you their attention, whether because they are bored, frustrated or simply preoccupied with other things they deem more important. Responses such as “uh-huh” or “mmhmm” are known as interjections. They usually indicate a lack of interest, meaning your conference call requires a boost.


Bad joke?

Many of us at work often inject a touch of comedy into our meetings. They can help keep participants awake and involved. Making wholesome jokes now and again to keep the team engaged is a common tactic and has proven useful for many, but knowing when it falls short is helpful. This is vital to communication, as it lets you understand when your conference is heading south, and what might help. 


Some participants know to use conference call feautures like muting if they are not contributing to help streamline conference call communications. Others might mute just because they’re feeling shy! This is important to keep in mind if you’re not hearing the laughs you hoped for. But sometimes you might have to accept that your comedic performance wasn’t to everyone’s liking. If you are noticing that many of your jokes are falling short, then this could suggest that people aren’t particularly interested in the topic at hand.


A one-way conversation is not productive conference call communication

Something else which may suggest that your conference call needs turning around is the direction of the conversation. Often the purpose of a conference call is to facilitate a presentation where there are only a select few who are speaking at a given time.

In other contexts, the call aims to have everyone involved. But even in these situations, poor conference call communication mean they can sometimes feel a little one-directional. If those on the phone call seem less willing to contribute to the subject, it may be because they’re uninterested. You don’t need to continually assess whether everyone is contributing equally. But if you have concerns that the conference is not going well, this could confirm your worries.

Business etiquette expert, Joanna Blake, suggests that you “encourage attendees to ask questions and share their opinions”. That might help keep things on track and improve communication on your conference call. Try calling out names and look for varied perspectives to keep people on their toes.

You should also consider assigning different elements of your agenda to different attendees. That way, you’ll give even the shyest person fair warning that they’ll be speaking. It also gives everyone an opportunity to prepare, so that they have valuable contributions to make. 


1-2-1 dynamics are not indicative of good conference call communication

A one-way conversation is not usually a sign of good communication on a conference call. Equally troublesome is a conversation between only two of the participants. If a few people dominate the call, others might be unwilling to contribute. They often become frustrated by those ruling the conversation, or lose interest as their presence isn’t valued. This can be especially prevalent when topics digress, leaving others clicking their pens in disinterest.

A vital element of good conference call communication is finding the balance between engaging call participants and not isolating others. If you have a clear agenda for the call, you can use this to steer the conversation to involve everyone more effectively. Alternatively, you might consider incorporating some advanced call features to help keep the team on track. Take a look at some conference call reviews to find out why and how conference calls can be so great for communication. 

Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

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