Gracefully joining a conference call

Are you still there?

It’s a question carries a hint of annoyance or laughter (or both) and when tossed out on a conference call, it can be a sad and frustrating one.

Because people tend to place more trust in those we can physically interact with, and because of technical issues that never seem to fully disappear, the stacks are piled against you as a conference caller. Especially if all or some of the other participants are in the same room.

Here are a couple of small tricks I’ve picked out over the years:

Before the call:

  • If there’s a chance that the organizer doesn’t know you’re joining remotely, tell them before the meeting.

Starting the call:

  • Say something in the first 60 seconds. It helps to prop you up as an active participant of the meeting, as well as acting as a sound check in an uncritical moment.
  • Turn on the video, if bandwidth permits. People like to see faces. 
  • Find the right camera angle. You’d be surprised at how un-reliable you look when only the top half of your head is visible…
  • If you’re late and the meeting has already begun, smile and wave while on mute. No need to interrupt with an apology. Whomever is speaking at the moment will probably give a quick “hey, Bob” and offer a sentence or two to bring you up to speed, if required.

During the call:

  • Know how and when to mute your mike.

Ending the call:

  • Say thank you and good bye.
  • If you need to go but it looks like the meeting needs a few minutes to wrap up, send a message to the group, wave, and promptly leave the call.

I’ll cover tips that are specific to an organizer in a separate post.

Bonus: You may have seen this spot-on skit on video conferences

… there’s also a sequel, so we can make even more fun of our everyday annoyances 😉