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!)
- 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)
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 ...