You Might Be a Conference Call Etiquette Offender If …

By Robert Half on July 23, 2015 at 2:03pm

Most of us participate in meetings via the phone at work all the time, but that doesn’t mean everyone’s got conference call etiquette down pat. Are you making these mistakes? 

You may think you can get away with bad behavior on conference calls because no one can see you, but I’m here to set things straight.

Here are some signs you might be a conference call etiquette offender:

  • The host is already on slide 5 of the deck when you arrive. On many conference call systems, you hear a beep when someone joins. It’s amazing how distracting that little sound can be to participants. Plus, if you’re in the middle of talking, it can throw you off your train of thought. The moral of the story? Just dial in on time.    
  • Everyone can hear your dog Marty barking. People don’t want to get an earful of what’s going on around you, whether it’s the barista frothing milk on your cappuccino or your cubemates gossiping. And then there are those loud/heavy breathers among us that always make things awkward. The mute button is your friend.  
  • You’re eating a sandwich with one hand and checking email with the other. Normally I’d commend you for your agility, but multitasking rarely works on conference calls. To fully participate in the conversation, eliminate all potential distractions. There’s nothing worse than being called on and having no idea what someone’s talking about because you were busier focusing on your cold cuts than the discussion.
  • You’re talking, but no one can hear you. Usually this happens when you forget to unmute yourself, but sound issues can also occur when you’re on a cell phone with spotty reception. Another of my favorites is the person who somehow brings an echo into the conversation when using their speaker or forgetting to turn off the sound on their computer.  
  • You put the call on hold and prompt elevator music. Many phone systems are set up to play music when a line is put on hold. Not only is it hard for conference call attendees to talk over a Kenny G song, but you’ll really have to “face the music” when they figure out you’re the culprit.
  • You won’t let anyone get a word in edgewise. It’s great if you’ve got tons of ideas you want to share, but don’t make it the [insert your name here] show. Leave room for others to weigh in. According to an OfficeTeam survey, workers said multiple people talking at the same time is the most distracting thing on conference calls. Since sometimes there are audio delays on the phone, pause a second before speaking so you don’t interrupt anyone.  
  • No one even knows you’re on the line. Introduce yourself when joining a call and also when speaking. Otherwise, if they haven’t heard from you the whole time, everyone will be a little startled if you suddenly chime in. 
  • Everything you have to say is totally irrelevant. Don’t be that guy or girl who talks just for the sake of talking. Going off on tangents wastes valuable time and raises eyebrows. Keep your comments on target!

Check out the videos below to see how conference call etiquette mistakes can look in real life.

What’s the most annoying behavior you’ve ever experienced on a conference call?

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