You’re on the line, third call of the day. Sales is reporting on last month’s numbers. Suddenly your ear is bombarded with a cacophony of static coming through the line. The next five minutes are spent by the host discovering where the noise is coming from while everyone sits on mute, and the call has officially been sidetracked beyond recovery.
These inconveniences can be set off by simple outside factors that can be quickly remedied or prevented.
Sometimes they’re environmental:
Static on the line?
Probably there is another device (such as a mobile phone) that is giving off some unwelcome “vibes” set too close to the speaker phone. Generally, the person not hearing the static is the one causing it. Move the device a few feet away and it should clear things up.
Could be the effect of a speaker phone with the volume set too high or someone dialing in from both their laptop and the phone line. Try using a handset, or turn down volume, or simply mute when you’re not talking.
Excessive background noise?
Some background elements can’t be avoided, especially as more users take calls from home and on the road. As much as it’s within your control, make sure you to set yourself up in the most ideal environment to take the call. If you’re at home, put the dogs out. Out in public, find a quiet space with few people, and fewer opportunities for loud mechanical noises (like a coffee shop).
Other times it’s purely human error:
Interruptions by late joiners?
Avoid an embarrassing late entrance by getting to the meeting early (true for both hosts and guests). This will give you time to prepare yourself, gather materials you might be presenting, as well as get ahead of any unforeseen technical issues that might occur such as an app update or trouble connecting to Wi-Fi.
*pro tip: If you are the presenter, make sure you have all documents pulled up and ready to go before you are asked to present, or before you join the call even, if possible. Also have all extraneous documents and web searches closed out to avoid embarrassing scenarios. This includes chat windows and email.
Distracting the group with side conversations?
Sure, many of us multitask on our calls, but that doesn’t mean everyone else needs to know about it. If you can’t avoid a side conversation, gobbling your lunch down before the next back-to-back call, or an immediate email that needs to be sent, make sure to mute yourself before you do.
Other bad habits to avoid:
- Excessive typing
- Coughing, chewing or heavy breathing
- Taking a call during a call
Total call domination?
The nature of remote meetings means that you’re probably going to miss body language cues that are typically visible in face-to-face conversations. Avoid speaking over others to making sure you take a pause in between moments of speaking to ask if there are any questions or comments, when appropriate.
Bottom line, there are some things you can’t help, but there are others that are completely in your control. It’s up to you as a guest or host, to make sure you’re sticking to some common best practices the next time you’re on the line. They will not only work to put your best foot forward in front of potential clients, employers and staff, but help you to avoid confusion and unfortunate outcomes.