Conference calls are a key element to getting business done in the modern workplace. Whether it’s over audio or an online meeting tool, there’s always an opportunity for something to go horribly wrong on a conference call.
Sure, I’ve been privy to close calls, but thankfully I’ve never done anything on a conference call that has kept me up at night or induced the fear of losing my job (excuse me while I go knock on wood).
I have, however, witnessed some pretty bad conference call violations that would strike fear in even the most confident person. Here are a few conference call horror stories and ways to avoid them:
The Mute Button Is Your Friend
I was on a conference call recently with my team that I was taking from home. The majority of the team was in office, taking the call from a conference room. I kept hearing rustling and audible crunching and chewing while another team member, also working from home, was talking. I found out later that my team had ordered lunch and was eating while on the conference call and forgot to mute themselves when they weren’t talking.
Since it was a casual catch-up call, I didn’t mind that they were eating on the call, but in a different situation, that distraction could have been pretty embarrassing for the caller who was committing the offense. Remember, when you’re taking a break, the mute button is your friend!
No Pets Allowed
This should be a given, but if you’re on a conference call at home, remove distractions from the room. During a pretty important conference call with directors from around the globe, we all kept hearing fussing sounds from a baby and the occasional bark from a dog. The moderator of the meeting had to stop the meeting and ask who was creating the distraction—a pretty embarrassing situation to play out in front of a group of executives.
Before you hop on a conference call, make sure you’re in a quiet place where you feel comfortable taking a call, free of barking dogs, crying babies or a barista taking your coffee order.
If You Can’t Say Something Nice…
I once had a boss who had this weird habit of triple checking that she had hung up after the conference call was over. Out of curiosity, I asked what the deal was with her obsessive behavior. She admitted to me that she was on a call once that had been heated, and when the meeting ended, she thought she hung up on the call and began using some colorful language about the resolution of the meeting. All of those who were still on the call heard her.
This type of action is not only unprofessional, but it could cost you your clients, your reputation and maybe even your job. Remember that conference calls are professional meetings, and as a rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t say something in a face-to-face meeting, then don’t say it at all.
Conference calls don’t have to be scary; with the right audio, like PGi’s GlobalMeet® Audio, and the right tips you can keep your next conference call the way it should be—productive and efficient.
Have a conference call horror story? Comment below!