Conference call security and etiquette

Security

There are a number of potential security issues that you need to be aware of when taking part in conference calls, such as who can hear your conversations, discussing sensitive information and which systems to use. Follow the points below to help minimise these risks.

Be mindful

Think about who can overhear your conversation, both from your perspective and others, when taking part in video calls. If you have a headset, use it to reduce others overhearing and to avoid unnecessary distractions.

Avoid discussing sensitive information

Try to reduce the need to discuss personal and sensitive information via conference calls. Consider alternative ways this could be discussed, such as by secure email.

Also think about what could be seen on your camera during video calls such as sensitive documents. It's a good idea to blur your background in Microsoft Teams.

Use Microsoft Teams

Use Microsoft Teams for video conferencing. Participants do not require Microsoft Teams and do not have to work for the council to be involved in the call, they just need a web browser.

Find out more about Microsoft Teams

Try not to use other conference call systems

Microsoft Teams should be used for conference calling wherever possible as some other systems such as Zoom, are not secure. These should only be used as a last resort. If you think you need to use a different system you must email the business analysts prior to using it.

To report an issue with Microsoft Teams raise a request on the IT Service Desk.

Don't use personal devices

Never use your own device for video conference calls or messaging apps for work activity, unless it has been approved by IT.

If you have a reason to use your own personal device you must email the business analysts prior to using it.

To report an issue with Microsoft Teams raise a request on the IT Service Desk.

Make sure you hang up after the meeting

When the meeting is finished, make sure you leave the meeting.

If you do not hang up the call, and the meeting is being recorded, then Teams may continue to record the area in front of your camera for several hours.

Refer to live meeting controls point 8 to find out how to leave a meeting

Think before you record a meeting

You can record video, audio and shared screen activities from your Teams meetings. The recording is automatically saved to Microsoft Stream so later you can download, manage or share it.

Both the meeting organiser and internal attendess can start of stop the recording.

If you intend to make a recording, you must inform and gain consent from all attendees before the meeting starts.

All recordings are subject to data controls so please consider:

  • Is it essential to record the meeting? You must be able to state a valid reason for recording the meeting.
  • Where will the recording be saved? Recordings are categorised as personal data and must be managed as such.

Please note: if you decide to record the meeting, please make sure the recording is stopped and that all other attendees have left the meeting before you leave. This is to make sure no ones camera continues to record after the meeting has finished.

Call etiquette

If you are taking part in conference calls we have some top tips so that you and your colleagues can get the most out of your discussions.

Be ready

Make sure everyone knows when your conference call is.

Keep the conference call dial in number and PIN to hand (if relevant) so you are not struggling to find it at the last minute.

Call in early

Don't be late to the call, especially if you know you have to contribute to the discussion. Participants might be on a strict time limit and may have to leave before the end if you hold it up at the start.

Use your camera

When taking part in video calls use your camera, where possible, so all participants can view any visual prompts. Also make sure you are positioned correctly within your camera frame.

Use the mute button

If background noise could become loud, such as children shouting or your dog barking, use the mute button when you're not talking to help keep distracting sounds to a minimum.

Introduce yourself before speaking

If there are a lot of people on the call or you don't know everyone, it helps to introduce yourself before speaking. This will help others to know who you are and understand the context of your comments.

If you're in conference with people from another company, it may also help to state your role, company, or location after your name.

Be prepared

Prepare for a conference call like you would any other meeting. Long silences as you search around for notes or documents or trying to think on your feet are magnified during a conference call.

Be respectful

Listen to the points of view of other participants, making sure everyone has a chance to speak. Avoid talking over others as it will seem like you are shouting and key information may be missed.

Pay attention

There are loads of distractions to hand when you dial in to a conference call from home, such as emails in your inbox, messages from co-workers, social media or family members. Don't be the person who always has to ask for the question to be repeated, because you weren't paying attention.

Try to keep a good signal

If you are using a mobile for your conference call, make sure you find a place in your home with a strong signal and stay there for the duration of the call.

A bad connection could cause you to become static, make your voice break up when you speak or drop the line to disrupt the call.

Conference leader

Every conference call should have a clear, defined leader who sends out the agenda ahead of the call, keeps track of time and sends out any follow ups or invites to future meetings.

Stick to the agenda

It's important to provide and stick to an agenda on the conference call. This is the responsibility of the leader of the call, so if the conversation is straying and they're not keeping track, give them a nudge.

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