Annoying Conference Call Behaviors
by Karey Rees
Have you seen this video yet? It’s a video of how a conference call would be if it were in “real life”. I think it’s pretty true, which in turn, makes it quite entertaining (and good for few laughs).
If you haven’t watched it yet I highly recommend taking three minutes of your time to do so. It’s well worth it.
Modern technology has allowed us to replace regular, in-person meetings with conference calls. Sure, it saves travel costs, travel-time, and in theory should save us work-time…but do they in the long run?
As I was watching this video, I kept thinking to myself that they should add “X” or “Y” and sure enough, they hit almost every one right after the thoughts came into my head. After watching this video it made me think that maybe, just maybe, “time saving” conference calls aren’t saving us time at all.
I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve been that person who talks on mute or creates an echo-effect by using my speaker phone (it almost never fails I talk while on mute.) In fact, we’re probably all guilty of at least one of these conference call interrupting behaviors. The best one I’ve experienced was hearing a toilet flush in the background-talk about derailing a meeting…that one threw the meeting right off track!
I think that the reason this video is so funny is that it really hits all of the major interrupters: participants joining late, participants dropping out, people talking over each other, background noise from those who are calling from somewhere other than the office, voices cutting in and out and more.
Another difficulty of a conference call is being able to tell if others are focused, or if people just right out leave in the middle of the conference call!
Going forward, I’m going to start really thinking about whether my meetings need to be done in a conference call setting or if there is a better way to accomplish the goal of the meeting.
What are the most annoying conference call habits or experiences that you’ve had to endure?
I was on a call once when a 4-year old son picked up one of the other phones in the house of one of the call participants. 24 of us had to quietly wait while she proceeded to negotiate with her son over the phone to get him to hang up the upstairs phone. Rather than go upstairs and immediately take care of this situation, we all waited while she talked over the phone with him for almost 10 minutes to get him to hang up. That was an unnecessary delay, and quite expensive when you consider how many people’s times (and salaries) were wasted.
Vicki – Wow…that’s one I haven’t heard of. I agree, what an expensive waste of time. I would have been quite frustrated having been on that call. Thanks for sharing!
I have participated in some phone meetings that have gone very well. Here are some of the tricks of the trade that made those meetings work. The leader should always be a leader, people actually want that. The leader should do several short round robin check-ins at intervals throughout the meeting, asking each person to chime in with a brief comment on their thoughts, how the meeting is progressing, or even a “no comment” statement just to let the others know they are there. If someone rambles during the check in, the leader should cut in and say “thanks … OK on to the next person.” The meeting should conclude with a final round robin, and then a summary by the leader. This way people feel that they are present, and are more attentive because they know they will be called upon to contribute at appropriate intervals. I know its not rocket science, but I rarely see phone meetings conducted this way!