In theory, conference calls are a great idea, since they save people from having to travel long distances just to meet up for a few hours, but in reality conference calls are often stressful to say the least.
First, these are often hosted by a conference call provider, which requires the host who is organizing the call having to register it, then send a link or code to all the participants so that they can dial into the call. This is more often than not a real nightmare, since the line can be busy, or the service won’t recognize the code when you type it in.
But then eventually, well hopefully, you are able to connect to the conference call so you can participate.
Protocol dictates that when you connect, you should say your name and which company you are from for example. Now how many of us have dialed into a conference call promptly, spoken our names, and heard just the sound of silence in response? It’s embarrassing isn’t it when you appear to be the only one there. It’s like being in an unfamiliar room with a blindfold on.
Then of course, you start to hear the pings (or bings or bongs) as new people dial in. Invariably, this is when you get 2 or 3 or more pings almost instantaneously, and everyone who has just joined the call starts to say their name at the same time. This is usually followed by up to 5 seconds of silence, as the new members realize what they have done, and they then repeat their names, once again at the same time. Embarrassing? You bet!
Of course, nobody wants to dial into a conference call late, once the discussion has already started. The embarrassment of hearing the discussion halt as the moderator hears your ping and asking, “Hello, who just joined?”
I guess it’s not embarrassing as such, but it’s definitely frustrating being one of the first people to dial into a conference call and have to listen to a succession of other people dialing in and announcing themselves for what seems to be an eternity. I wonder how many times you have source refuge at the coffee machine when this happens, returning to your desk only to find that the conference has already begun and they were asking you a question with no response.
Then, when you finally get a chance to say something, your lips get into a twist and your apt and meaningful question comes out as utter garbage! I think most of us have suffered from that, and thankfully there was no webcam active to show the deep shade of crimson that you went afterwards.
If someone is to direct a question to you during a long conference call, it’s usually just after a long section that practically put you to sleep and you momentarily lost your concentration. Having to ask them to repeat the question, embarrassing!
Then there is always one speaker who keeps saying words like “Umm” or “M’kay” with every sentence. You get so frustrated by this, you begin counting just how many times they say it, instead of focusing on everything else that they are saying.
As handy as they are, I think most of us actually hate participating in conference calls. Do you have any good conference call stories that you would like to share with us? If so, please leave a comment.
Image used under a Collective Commons License from https://www.flickr.com/photos/andyonflickr/2925000194/