During the course of every working person’s week, chances are you have to participate in a conference call. They are known to get awkward in general — people talking over each other, not knowing whose voice is currently speaking — but some employees take it to a whole new level of bad. Here are 10 surefire ways to kill a conference call (and yes, all of these things actually happen).
1. Chewing loudly
If you have a scheduled conference call, the best play is to eat before or afterward, so you’re not the annoying person munching on your sandwich or slurping your soup into the telephone receiver — because no one wants to hear every morsel of food. And at least have the courtesy to click “Mute” if you’re going to open a bag of chips for later.
2. Taking a bathroom break
This seems like a no-brainer, but trust me — it has happened. Your phone should not be in the bathroom; you should definitely not be talking to anyone from the bathroom; and you definitely, definitely should not be conducting business from the bathroom. End of story.
3. Forgetting the mute button
Coughing, yawning, or talking to your dog — they sometimes happen on a conference call. Remember that you have the mute button for when it comes up, because no, your coworkers don’t need to hear your bodily noises or family business.
4. Falling asleep
You might scoff at this one, but The Wall Street Journal has reported that more than 25% of people admit to having caught some Zzzs during a conference call. It’s extra bad if you’re a snorer.
5. Using social media
First of all, everyone can hear you typing. Second of all, if you’re catching up on your high school buddies on Facebook, you’re definitely not listening to your manager talk about an upcoming project. And we know from grade school that when you’re not listening, that’s always the time you’re called on to speak. Plus, you’ll be outed ASAP if a coworker sees your tweet during conference call hours.
6. Not knowing the technology
Do a test run before hopping on a conference call so you know about the microphone, phone number, software requirements, and any video technology you need. If you delay a conference call for 20 minutes trying to sort out tech difficulties, you’ll annoy the whole team.
7. Excessive multitasking
I know it’s hard, but you can turn off your juggling brain for a second when you’re on a call. It’s far too easy to zone out when someone else is talking, so take a break from checking your email and reading your calendar.
8. Rambling on and on
Conference calls can be painful enough without making an entire team sit through an hour-long lecture with no point. Come into the call with concise talking points, and get in and get out so everyone can get back to their busy day.
Not only is it illegal to be on the phone and driving in many states, even if you have a Bluetooth system — you can’t possibly drive while you’re conducting business. Pull over.
10. Calling from a coffee shop
The baristas shouting out “extra-hot latte for Joe”? Yeah, your coworkers can hear that. They can also hear the screeching toddlers, frantically typing freelancers, and chatting BFFs. Always take your conference call in a quiet space.
Conference calls aren’t the most fun to begin with, but you can save them from going into workplace hell by avoiding these ways to ruin them.