Conference Call and Telephone Rules


A few years ago, I made a critical mistake of taking a conference call while watering my plants. I heard the distraction in my colleague’s voice. He was annoyed and disappointed. Without saying a word, he seemed to be saying — could you put down the hose and pay attention?

I took that lesson seriously. I was being rude.

Here are my hard and fast rules for conference calls and appointments via telephone.

  1. Don’t do anything with your mouth except talk. No smoking. No eating. No drinking. The telephone amplifies everything.
  2. If you have a desk, use it. Don’t walk around and talk — especially if you’re on a mobile device. You cut in/out.
  3. Don’t multitask. If you don’t have time for my call, reschedule it.
  4. If you work from home, don’t do chores. I can hear you wash your dishes. I can hear you when you swiffer. It’s rude. See #3.
  5. Don’t call me from your car. If you work in HR and don’t have a no-talking-while-driving policy, you’re a fool. Even handsfree is risky. And see #3. Multitask on your own time, not mine.

My final piece of advice? If you take two minutes to prepare before a call, you cut the call by 10 minutes and you can get back to your real life.

And I can get back to mine.

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