Conference Call Confessions Revealed

The dos and don’ts of conference calling

Have you ever cheekily checked Facebook while on a conference call; perhaps nodded off after Gary from Sales has started his third PowerPoint presentation of the day, or started thinking about the changes you’re going to make to your fantasy football team tonight?

Well, you're certainly not alone.

Procrastinating, saying things behind the caller’s back, and even conference calling while on the toilet – yes, all these things have actually happened… We surveyed 2,000 office workers to allow them the opportunity to confess their conference calling sins.

Here are our top dos and don’ts of how to conduct yourself when on the line.

“Over 32% of respondents admitted to pulling faces whilst on a conference call.”

Don’t:
It’s a phone call; the person on the other end of the line can’t see you, right? So you could easily get away with sticking two fingers up or blowing a raspberry – a silent raspberry that is.
The hotspot for pulling faces while on the line was actually in the North East. 36% of people confessed their face-pulling sins in this region; perhaps it’s better to video call in Newcastle so you can see exactly what faces the caller on the other end might be pulling.
Do:
It’s better to use your energy and focus to take notes, contribute to the discussion, or even be the person to break the ice at the start of the call. It’s good to introduce yourself so everyone’s aware of exactly who’s on the line.
And if you have to pull faces, make yours the ‘listening intently face’!

“12% of respondents said that they have used the toilet whilst on a conference call.”

Don’t:
Do we really have to say it? Yes, if you’re in a cubicle with your pants down, it’s better not to be on a conference call at the same time. It’s difficult to multitask, you know?
Yet, 12% happily confessed this particular sin. Maybe it would be slightly more acceptable if they were on their own toilet at home… or not!
Do:
Everyone has to use the bathroom – there’s no denying it. However, you can schedule your toilet breaks for before and after the conference call, so there’s no need to go while you’re on the line.
If you’re on a particularly long call, just ask everyone if you can be excused for a minute or two. They have bladders too, so don’t worry, they’ll understand, it’s preferable to the alternative.

“Over 17% of people said they check social media while on a conference call.”

Don’t:
Has your mate put up some new holiday snaps? Is one celebrity bitching about another celebrity on Twitter?
Whatever the online world is up to, you’ve just got to know about it, right? And one measly conference call isn’t going to stand between you and your newsfeed.
Do:
Surprisingly, over 7% of respondents think that it’s acceptable to check social media during a conference call.
However, we’d recommend that you don’t. If you find that the urge to check social media is a little too strong, consider leaving your phone at your desk for the duration of the call.
It’s also a good idea to do away with all distractions such as emails too. Leave your laptop behind unless you really need it, and give the topic of the call your full attention. You may just have the most productive conference call of your life!

“Over 31% of respondents have been on a conference call unprepared.”

Don’t:
Making a good cup of tea before dialling in – that’s preparation right?
And it seems as though 31% of respondents would be inclined to agree, heading into a conference call on a wing and a prayer, hoping that they’ll pick up the gist at some point before they put the phone down.
Do:
“Fail to prepare, prepare to fail” – it’s a time-honoured saying that still has merit. No need to spend hours researching before the call, but if you put some thought into what you’d like to get out of it, the conference call will be so much more worthwhile.
Also, if you’re chatting to a client, you need to make sure that your expertise is on display. If you haven’t prepared, a question may come your way – one that you weren’t expecting – and you may not have the answer to hand.

“Over 13% of users have said something about the person on the conference call when they thought it was on mute.”

Don’t:
Uh-oh, this is the stuff of nightmares right here. You mutter something about someone on the call thinking you were on mute, only to have them hear it and you subsequently curl up and die in a ball of cringe.
Pulling faces and making fun of other people on the call go hand-in-hand when it comes to conference calling etiquette – it’s best to stray away from both of them.
Perhaps surprisingly, more women than men admitted to discussing other callers while on mute – 26% compared to 22%.
Do:
Be professional at all times and resist the urge to chat about other callers, even if you’re 100% sure that you’ve pressed the mute button. It’s guaranteed that there will be one time when you forget to press it, or simply didn’t push it hard enough.
Those are our conference calling dos and don’ts – at least, the ones borne of the top confessions, which those surveyed admitted to. If you’re ever in doubt of whether you should or shouldn’t do something while on a call, remember to keep your mind on the task at hand, and your call will be much more productive.