Conference Etiquette

Conference call with an important customer. Lot of folks on the call, discussing several very important things (like who is unable to join this call, when can the next call be scheduled, what everyone’s 4th July plans are etc). And then it happens. I call him the “conference moron” – the person who decides to pick up another call and put everyone on the conference on HOLD. Yes, we are all now forced to listen to the annoying hold music. Some people try talking over it. Some try to put their own calls on hold, like somehow two holds will cancel each other! But the fact is that it is very irritating.

More irritating than Jack Bauer’s whisper talking in “24”, and almost as irritating as people who put their 6 month old baby on the phone to “talk” when in fact their 6 month old cannot "talk".

(Yes, I have a lot of anger, and yes, I am thinking of taking anger management classes)

We have elaborate rules about how to set the dinner table. We have rules about driving and about washing hands after going to the bathroom. What about some rules for conference calls? Does anyone have a complete or partial list? It can’t be a very long list, but conference calls are so common today that we need to lay down the basics.

1.       Do NOT put the complete conference on hold. VoIP systems will play hold music to the entire conference. First mute yourselves, and then put the call on hold.

2.       While we are on muting, MUTE yourselves when not talking. If you are on a cell phone, or in a public place, the background noise will be transmitted to the rest of the people on the call. Even with advanced noise reduction algorithms in place, some noise will be carried into the conference. So just mute when you are not talking.

3.       But also remember to un-mute when you do want to talk.

4.       Keep your conversation/questions to the point. Don’t start rambling without pause. Give short pauses so someone can jump in to address your concerns as needed.

5.       Introduce yourself when entering the conference. Don’t assume everyone knows you by your voice.

I would write up a few more but I have to jump on this conference call now…and yes, dialing in on time makes this list too.  Maybe you can suggest a few more "rules"…while your conference call is on hold.

Ritu Maheshwari