How to confidently master a conference call



Conference Calls and Meetings via telephone


My name is Jamel and I was born and raised in Tunisia. I spent some time in Ireland during university and after graduation, I took a job at an international development firm with offices in Tunisia. I've been at the company for almost a year, and in that time I've had numerous conference calls with clients and colleagues from all over the world - and all of those calls have been in English. At first it was daunting because I couldn't see the participants and was less sure of myself, yet over the past 12 months I've picked up a few tips that have really helped me master conference calls in a language that isn't my mother tongue.

Make vocabulary lists

You generally know what will be discussed beforehand, so take some time to make lists of words you are likely to need. That way you can reference the list at any time, which is helpful when you're in the middle of a negotiation and can't remember the right word.

Practice makes perfect

Get someone to run a practice conversation with you so you can get a feel for how you want to say certain sentences. This will help you relax when you're actually sitting in on the conference call.

Speak up when you don't understand

If you don't understand something said during the conference call, say so. It's never an issue for someone to explain what they mean, and pretending to understand when you don't could have serious repercussions.

Ask questions

Asking questions is an important part of any conference call, regardless of whether you're a native speaker or not. Don't be shy and ask as many questions as you need to in order make sure everyone is on the same page.

Tell people if they are speaking too quickly

Don't feel bad if someone speaks too fast for you to fully understand, and don't worry about asking them to slow down. Many of us stay silent because we are too embarrassed, but people will appreciate your desire to listen and understand what is being said.


The conference call may not be in your native language, but remember what the meeting is really about: the information you and the others are sharing with each other. Focus on your part of the conversation and the words will come naturally.


Berlitz offers seminars tailored to business needs that cover a wide range of topics, such as "Facilitating Interactive Meetings" as well as culture-related topics. These seminars are a great way to increase language skills while simultaneously improving other skills and competencies needed in the world of business.

Other Countries Other Customs

My name is Alessia and I am from Italy. I've been working in the finance sector since I started university, and over the years I have reached management level. My job requires me to speak two languages on a regular basis, something I found difficult in my first years in this institution.

I discovered, though, that the more effort I put into perfecting my second language, the better I got at a lot of things. Below are a few reasons why I think learning a second language can be advantageous to your career.

Improved communication skills

Without a doubt, speaking a second language will vastly enhance your communication skills. By practicing your speaking and writing skills in a second language, you'll also indirectly improve your general skills. I have found that I have become more comfortable speaking in front of people and dealing with day-to-day business.

Greater cultural understanding

Along with learning a language, you also learn about the cultures in which that language is spoken. This broadens your horizons and makes it easier for you to understand cultural differences. Personally, this has made me more adept at working with people from different countries and backgrounds.

More confidence

As your skills in your new language grow, so will your confidence. That boost in confidence will flow into other parts of your life, increasing your motivation and your appeal at work.

Deeper awareness of your strengths and weaknesses

Learning a new language can be hard, but it is also rewarding. As you progress, you'll discover how you can best remember new ideas as well as where you may need more time to get things done. Knowing my strengths and weaknesses has helped me structure not only my learning but also my life in a way that is suitable to how I tick - I am sure you will have the same experience.

A second language makes you more attractive to employers

Speaking more than one language opens you up to professional possibilities because it expands the number of people you can communicate with, which is particularly important in today's global world. It's not just because you speak a second language; the whole array of soft skills you develop while learning a second language are beneficial across the board. Employers value having people on their team with the very skills you'll acquire as you work toward fluency in your second language.


Berlitz caters to individuals looking to improve their careers and offers a series of language and business courses designed to enhance your marketability. The courses focus on language acquisition as well as on the development of business concepts and soft skills valued by employers around the world.

© 2010 Berlitz Languages, Inc. All rights reserved.

A Benesse Company

Created by NetReach Powered by cmScribe Content Management System (CMS)