For many workers, conference calls and video conferencing might seem like free license to whatever they want to. After all, they won’t be the focal point of the meeting; it’s someone else that’ll be center stage. But this might not always be true. Video conferencing is a great way for employees to keep in touch with their employers and co-workers, most especially if you work off-site most of the time.
But since you’re not there “in person” with those employers or co-workers, it’s easy to forget about the small things: The niceties, the politeness that greases the wheels of our interactions, and the little mores that might grate on another’s nerves just enough to irritate them, but not enough for them to actually say anything about it. All those things can add up to negatively affect their perceptions of you, and that’s not something that anyone wants.
So without further ado, here are eight prime situations to avoid on any conference call.
1. Falling Asleep: As reported by a survey performed by Inter call, over 25 percent of those surveyed conceded that they actually fell asleep during calls. Over 25 percent in the professional, business world? Come on, people. Do what you have to do to keep yourself alert during a call. Participate in the conversation, doodle on your pad, take notes, fall back on the old college trick of plucking some nose hairs, shift in your chair — just don’t snore on the line.
2. Texting and/or checking your social media apps: Maybe this is a no-brainer, but maybe it isn’t. Many of those people ostensibly engaged in a conference call will just hit the speakerphone button and tab over to Facebook just to see what’s up with their friends. You really need to stay present during any phone call, even a conference call. Doing so will show anyone else on the call, including your boss and coworkers, that you’re both engaged and present in the conversation.
3. Taking Calls at the Pool: This might come as a shock, but twenty-nine percent of those surveyed admitted to taking their conference calls by the pool, the beach, or the lake. Lounging or resting next to any body of water — in fact, reclining of any sort is going to be a big distraction. Hard as it might be, move yourself from that relaxed mindset to a place that you can focus for the length of the call. You can reward yourself with the relaxation after the call is over.
4. Making or Eating Food: Your conference call is also not an excuse to take another break from work to prepare your next meal or snack. Besides, think of how awkward it will be for everyone on the line if you can’t answer a question posed to you just because you have a mouthful of last night’s pasta.
5. Using the Bathroom: As adults, we should be able to plan our bathroom breaks around our meetings, since conference calls need to be taken as seriously — and as formally — as face to face meetings. It’s really not that hard to go just before the call; after all, we do it at movies, so why not calls? Nobody wants to hear that remote worker flushing their commode.
6. Playing Video Games: There’s nothing quite like being preoccupied with NBA 2K15 while attempting to talk strategy with your boss. There’s plenty of sound effects that go along with games, and they can only make us think the person who does this will ultimately get bumped.
7. Leaving Mid-Call: Many times conference calls can drag on, and not pertain directly to your personal work. Yet this doesn’t give you a license to silently drop out of the call, hoping that nobody notices. You need to stay for the duration of the call, regardless of how tangential if might seem. There’s always something you can get out of it.
8. Online Shopping: Another no-no is to go traipsing off to check out the latest deals at your favorite online stores during a call. It’s another terrific distraction. Also, imagine being asked your opinion just as you’re entering the final numbers of your credit card — that’s sure to make you feel off-guard.
About The Author: Michelle Patterson is excited with the new technologies that are threatening to change the way we stay in touch and communicate, particular in business. She works with companies that are introducing these technologies to make understanding them easy for regular people.