Friday, December 16, 2011

Do you KNOW how to use the "Mute" button ?!

In my line of work I have the "opportunity" to be on conference calls several times each month.  The groups of people are often similar, but some calls are filled with people I've never conferenced with before.  I mention this because ... some of them seem to have NEVER been on a conference call before!

Just yesterday, one person was noisily chewing food while the leader of the call was trying to ask questions of the rest of the people on the call.  The loud eater must have been called out by his or her peers because it only lasted for a short while (maybe 30 seconds ... which is way longer than it should have been ... I was pretty sure I had a 50/50 chance of guessing their sandwich type if that question had come up).

Herewith are a list of experiences I have had
in the past few months on conference calls:
 - Side conversations (both with others on the call and people "walking by" the person's desk ... some happen very LOUDLY too!)
 - Burping
 - Sneezing
 - Slurping drinks
 - LOUD typing
 - Consistent talking-over people (once is an accident, but 4-5 times means you're probably a loudmouth jerk)
 - Multiple apologies for asking someone to repeat themselves (it was evident this person was doing several things at once ... none of which was listening in on the call like they should have been primarily doing)

So here's where I need your help as readers of this post.  What is the proper approach for calling these folks out and educating them on proper conference call etiquette?  I truly don't want to embarrass anyone, but it is disruptive to everyone on the call ... and I want to believe these folks just don't know any better.  95% of these issues can be resolved with proper "mute button" usage, but it doesn't help to just tell everyone on the call to use their mute button.  And most of the time I'm not the leader of the call, so I don't feel it is my place to educate or call to their attention.

Let me know your thoughts ...



  1. I would first attempt to IM them if you are at your desk and not in a conference room. If that is not possible, a note after the call letting them know????

  2. Why can't you just remind everyone to use their mute button? I have been on multiple conference calls where they say at the beginning..."Just a reminder to put your phone on mute you push _____. Please make sure your phone is on mute." Then there have been a few times someone wasn't so they would stop and just remind everyone to put their phones on mute. They would also explain how to unmute if someone needed to say something. If you are not in charge...maybe suggest to the person who is to make an announcement.