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The Step-by-Step Guide to Chairing a Business Conference Call

by Joe DeBari

This step-by-step guide to leading a conference call will show you how to chair the call effectively and capture your attendees' attention.

“Who just joined the call?”

“Can you move closer to the phone? I can’t hear what you’re saying.”

“There’s a lot of background noise coming in, can someone put their phone on mute?”

Impeccable Conference Call Etiquette in 6 Steps

Business conference calls are tricky to lead due to the mix of personalities, distances, and technologies that are all involved. If you’ve ever had to lead one, you’ve certainly heard the above remarks before—as well as more than your fair share of awkward silence.

But by following a few tips and implementing some practical guidelines, you’ll be able to command your conference call and hold your attendees’ attention.

Step 1: Introduce Yourself and the Call Topic

Leading a conference call can be intimidating, especially at the beginning. Dial into the call a few minutes ahead of the scheduled time so that you don’t keep the other attendees waiting or guessing as they call in. When you’re ready to start, announce your name and briefly introduce the topic of the call as a way to get your attendees focused.

Step 2: Set Your Ground Rules

Now is a good time to mention any “ground rules” that you’d like to set to ensure a successful and uninterrupted call:

  1. Ask dial-in attendees to mute their phones when they’re not speaking. This will help to eliminate all possible sources of distracting background noise.
  2. Make sure these attendees mute their phones and not place the call on hold—doing so may introduce hold music on the conference bridge, which will completely derail the call.
  3. Specify whether you want attendees to ask questions throughout the presentation or have them hold all questions until the end. This will let call participants know when and how they can get your attention.

Step 3: Introduce Attendees to Establish Who Is on the Call

Remember to note who’s on the call, since everyone is not in the same location during the meeting. If you already have a list of who is attending, you can announce each name on that list and ask the attendees to acknowledge that they’re on the call. Or you can ask everyone on the conference call to state their own name and title. Don’t overlook this step, as it’s very important when the conference call includes members from different departments or outside clients, contractors, or stakeholders.

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When you’re ready to start, announce your name and briefly introduce the topic of the call as a way to get your attendees focused.

Step 4: Take Note of Pop-Up Issues and Follow Up on Them Offline

It’s inevitable: During the call, side issues will come up that threaten to take over vital conference time. These issues may cause discussions between participants who have opposing viewpoints or ideas. While it’s important not to entirely stamp out discussion from the conference call, be ready to manage these moments. If they cause the conference to veer off-topic, take note of the topic and inform the attendees that you’ll follow up with them directly after the call is completed. If it’s a mission-critical item that requires in-depth discussion, consider scheduling another conference call so that everyone can focus their attention on the topic at hand.

Step 5: Open the Floor Up to Questions

If you’ve asked everyone to hold their questions until the end, make sure that you allow an ample amount of time to address them. Not taking questions from the attendees can make it seem as if you’re disinterested in their opinions, or worse, it may discourage them from clarifying an issue that they don’t entirely understand.

Step 6: Summarize What’s Been Discussed and Identify Next Steps

Before you let everyone go, it’s a good idea to summarize the main points that were discussed during the conference call. Equally important is to clearly establish what tasks need to be accomplished next and which attendees are responsible for them, so use the final moments of the call to divvy out any future tasks. Doing so will ensure that all attendees leave with clear knowledge about what was settled and what is expected of them.

How to Set Up a Conference Call: OnSIP Conference Call Options

The technology that you use can also affect the progression of your conference call. Whether your business employs a third-party conferencing solution or you’re using the tech provided by your phone service, devote some time to learn how to operate it, and download any apps or required updates before the call starts.

On Net Conference Suites


OnSIP’s On Net Conference Suites allow up to 15 simultaneous callers to join the conference call. In our admin portal, you can easily assign an extension to the conference suite to make it hassle-free for your coworkers to dial in. If they’re working from home or on business travel, all they need to do is dial the specific extension from their OnSIP desktop apps or mobile apps and they’re on the call. You can also assign a unique phone number to the conference suite; this is ideal for when you have conference calls with external participants or clients.

You can also secure your conference suite by assigning it a PIN number. (Make sure to create a unique PIN that you don’t share with any other account.) Then, only callers who enter that PIN number will be able to join the call. And finally, try assigning the conference suite its own music on hold stream so that attendees don’t hear silence when they are the first to join the call.

Video Conference Calls

OnSIP customers can host five-way video calls right from the web or desktop app.

OnSIP customers can also host five-way video conference calls right from our web or desktop app. Click on the arrow button next to Start New Call, and then select Start Video Conference. Enter a descriptive name for the video conference and click on Start Conference. That will immediately launch the call.

To join your video conference, all coworkers need to do is log into the app themselves, navigate to the conference section, and type in the exact name of your video conference. They’ll then appear in your video call. You can even invite external callers to join your video conference by sending them the unique Conference Sharing Link (found on your screen with the other call control options). Even though these callers are not a part of your OnSIP account, all they have to do is navigate to the link in their browsers. From there, they’ll be able to video call into your conference!

Send the "Your Conference Sharing Link" to external call attendees and they'll be able to video call right from their browser windows!

This is a convenient option for when you have recurring video calls: For the next call, simply type in the same conference name or navigate to the same URL to restart the video conference.

And remember: The ability to create and host these video conference calls is available to each user on your account. All they need to do is log into the OnSIP app to get started.

Related Blog Posts for More Information

It’s our hope that these tips, suggestions, and best practices will help make your next conference call run smoothly and successfully. For more information about conference call etiquette, as well as specific tips for when you’re on a video call, check out our related blog posts:


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