Walkie Talkie Etiquette for Beginners

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Somehow, even with all the advances made in technology over the past five years and with the rise of smartphone use and tablet use, walkie talkies are still considered one of the most reliable ways to communicate  and remain a necessary piece of equipment in warehouses, for security personal, law enforcement, and first responders. If your place of employment requires you to use a walkie talkie, but you’ve never used one before, then this guide on basic walkie talkie etiquette will walk you through the do’s and don’ts of walkie talkie use, so you can avoid making embarrassing mistakes and learn how to use one of these two-way radios correctly and more efficiently.

Practice Using Your Walkie Talkies

It may sound silly, but if you plan on using walkie talkies for a cross country trip on your bike, a hiking trip, camping, or for work use, practicing using your walkie talkie will ensure you know how to use it properly when it counts and can prevent you from making an embarrassing mistake.

It doesn’t take long to learn how to use a walkie talkie the right way but using them correctly in the event of an emergency can be a matter of life or death. Memorizing the tips in this guide will be key.

Learning Walkie Talkie Lingo

When it comes to walkie talkie use, the most important thing is learning the certain words and phrases when speaking to, greeting, and signing off to another party. This is because some words that are used in everyday speech don’t exactly transmit well over the radio, causing those words to sound garbled.  Using basic walkie talkie lingo is somewhat like speaking in code.

Below, you’ll find some of the most common codes used and what they mean:

Over-I’m done speaking

Stand by-Wait

Copy-This is usually used in a sentence in order to confirm that a message was understood or heard

Wilco-I’ll follow instructions

Roger-This means the message was understood

Negative-No

Out-This is said after a conversation is finished

Pausing Before Speaking

It’s always a good idea to practice pausing for a couple of seconds before you hit the press to talk button on the radio before you begin speaking. Doing so will ensure that the first few words you say won’t get cut off, preventing the need to repeat yourself.

Always Identify Who is Speaking

A two-way radio doesn’t come equipped with caller ID and can be used or picked up by anyone. Because of this, it’s always polite to identify who you are before you begin a conversation. You’ll also need to address the person you’re speaking to before stating your name.

Some companies that use walkie talkies will provide each user with a unique call sign. Make sure that you address others by the correct call sign if this is used in your workplace.

Keep a Conversation Short

Don’t treat your walkie talkie like a cell phone. These devices aren’t meant for long conversations with friends to catch up after a long day.

Try to avoid speaking for too long when you’re using a walkie talkie. These radios are designed to deliver short bursts of communication in order to get a job done quickly or to solve a problem. If you have to deliver a long list of instructions or you have several points that you need to cover, make sure you use the word break after you’ve spoken each of the points, then release the button. Doing so will allow the other party to speak if they need to before you start discussing your next point.

Memorizing the NATO Alphabet

When you have to spell something out over the walkie talkie, avoid using letters since most letters tend to sound alike. Instead, you will need to spell them out using the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO alphabet. This system will use a word that corresponds with each letter in the alphabet, which helps to cut down on confusion.

Speak Clearly

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If you have a spotty connection or you’re in a loud environment, it can be difficult to communicate on your walkie talkie. Regardless of where you’re using a walkie talkie, avoid speaking too fast. If there’s a lot of noise or your connection sounds slightly distorted, when you speak too rapidly it can be almost impossible to understand what you’re saying. Try to speak in your normal tone of voice. Shouting or speaking too quietly can make it difficult to hear you over the device. Make sure that the radio’s mic is approximately four to five inches from your mouth. This will prevent your voice from sounding too loud to the other walkie talkie users.

Always think carefully before you speak into your walkie talkie, especially if it’s your first time using one. Following the rules will make certain that your message is understood. If possible, try to memorize the location and call signs of the people you communicate with regularly.

Don’t Interrupt Other Users

If you’re hearing other people speaking over the walkie talkie, make sure you wait until they have finished their conversation before you try to speak. Only cut in if it’s an emergency. If you have an emergency message to deliver then you can begin the conversation by saying “break” three times before you deliver the message.

Always Assume there is Someone Listening in

When you’re using a walkie talkie, it’s smart to always assume that other people will be within hearing range and can pick up what you’re saying. It’s also important to remember that other people not in your party are able to pick up your walkie talkie’s frequency. Unless your radios have the proper type of encryption, make sure you avoid transmitting any type of sensitive information when you’re communicating on your walkie talkie.

Use English

When it comes to two-way radio use, English is the official international language. In some cases, your colleagues may be licensed to speak on their radios in another language. However, you should always speak using English, unless otherwise directed by your supervisor.

Check Your Equipment Regularly

All walkie talkie users should regularly check their equipment to ensure that their batteries have been fully charged and that their radio is able to transmit a message clearly. Additionally, it’s also a good idea to ensure that you’re within range of the other parties using walkie talkies.

If you’re planning on using your walkie talkies for an upcoming trip, it’s a good idea to practice with them well in advance and always bring along an extra handset in the event one of the models in your party stops working.

Final Thoughts

It will probably take some practice and a little patience to get the hang of proper walkie talkie etiquette, however, once you do get the hang of it, you’ll feel much more confident using your walkie talkie to communicate. You’ll also be able to conduct yourself more professionally at work. Never be afraid to ask your colleagues or supervisor if you have forgotten the right lingo or how to use the walkie talkie correctly, based on the rules implemented by your workplace.

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