Brainstorm with @MeetingBoy – Why Conference Calls Suck

Our good friend @MeetingBoy is back, and he’s talking conference calls – probably a favorite subject of working people everywhere (hint: that was filled with sarcasm.) Check out his latest event below. We’ll see you there.

Now is the portion of the day known as the conference call. I call it talk radio time. You listen to idiots out in the boonies spouting off. —@BlondHousewife

Conference calls suck. I’m working on a new post about the things people do on them. I want to go beyond my original post Stop Wasting My Time – Conference Call Edition, and get a list of what you see people doing that is counterproductive and needs to stop. I’ll give away a few calendars to people with helpful suggestions. Please leave a comment here, or join me at on Monday, 1/17, at 3PM EST.


Written by

Maggie Hibma is a member of the product team.

31 thoughts on “Brainstorm with @MeetingBoy – Why Conference Calls Suck

  1. Well the technical difficulties alone. I was a part of a team that had monthly meetings with our counterpart team in India via Live Meeting and video conferencing. It never worked right. The first hour would always be spent “Can you see me?” “”Can you hear me?” We’d get one thing working, and then it would die. Start over. Most disjointed meetings ever. Plus it’s 7:30am for us and 8:30pm for them. No fun for anyone; we’re all sleepy and cranky.

  2. Conference calls suck because a speaker will ask a question and will get a resounding answer of cricket noises.

  3. There is no standard protocol for who gets to speak when resulting in everyone talking at the same time. Also any chance of actually following an agenda go right out the window. Suck the do!

  4. The only thing worse than being on a conference call, is sitting in a cube, next to someones office while THEY are on a conference call – using the speaker phone!

    Does the speaker function REALLY make it easier for you to participate in the meeting or do you just want to make all of us as miserable as you are?

  5. Today, during my conference call, someone put us all on hold to take another call – without telling any of us, of course. Really loud elevator music started playing from her phone. After about 5 minutes of “can everyone hear that? who’s doing that?” we finally gave up and waited. She finally came back, 10 minutes later. 15 minutes of my life I’ll never, ever get back.

  6. One person talks the WHOLE time – usually in unintelligible technical jargon.
    No one else listens because they’re annoyed with the dominating talker.
    Call ends with nothing being resolved – thus a new conference call needs to be initiated.
    Repeat until you retire.

  7. When participants say their name EVERY time they speak on the call! “This is Ted…” We know it’s you Ted, there are only 3 people on the call and two of us are here in the office together. So annoying!

  8. People on bad cellular networks are always getting cut off, and have to reconnect. Our conference system is programmed to announce – slowly – every time someone enters or leaves the conference. You can guess the result…Half the meeting is spent listening to announcements of people “arriving” and “departing” from the call.

  9. as technology evolves, more conference call issues are created. voip users sometimes have a disruptive max headroom/darth vader noise. our ip phones in the office seem to produce an echo on someone’s line about once a week in our daily scrum. what’s next?

  10. The worst is when people don’t use the mute button. Background noise of the wind blowing, elevators dinging, papers rustling, heavy breathing, and sometimes more “personal” noises obliterate everything that’s being said. If you are on a headset, USE THE MUTE BUTTON when you’re not talking!

  11. It’s so irritating when you spend hours arranging a time suitable for everyone and then you can’t get hold of the one person whose participation is key to the whole call. Usually because they’ve double booked but haven’t updated their calendar. Also annoying are the tech probs that mean you spend longer getting everyone on the line than you do actually having the discussion. And why do some people think it’s OK to have personal discussions with three other people listening? Or brag that they’re still in their PJs at midday? Thanks boss, I really needed that image in my head everytime I see you. Oh wait…

  12. Heavy breathing! That’s just really bad – one guy last week sounded like he was going to die – also bad (as in OMG I’m soooo embarrassed for you!) when someone thinks they’re on mute and they’re not and start talking to their neighbour/wife/taxi driver

  13. There like regular meeting except that the participants pay less attention, can’t read or adjust for non-verbal cues, and there’s even less of an excuse as to why it all couldn’t have been done over e-mail.

  14. 1. There is always one heavy breather and/or loud chewer.
    2. There is always one person who hasn’t been paying attention and asks a question that forces the leader to repeat what he just said.
    3. I would second the “crickets” comment.

  15. In my former job (in Europe) we used to have a lot of nationalities on the same conference call. As the head office was in London the person doing most of the talking was a native speaker and he naturally (arrogantly) assumed everybody had the same grasp of the English language. The Germans, the Dutch and the Belgians could easily join the conversation, France had difficulty and the Italians, the Spanish and the Portuguese were constantly shouting “I don’t understand, I don’t understand” in the background, as if we were joined by three Manuels from “Fawlty Towers”.

  16. because invariably people at the receiving end are checking email, tweeting, FB’ing, texting about what’s going on that night or the weekend, texting to the person next to them about the new guy’s weird bushy eyebrows, and not paying attention…then having to ask–CAN YOU REPEAT THAT??

  17. I love it when people report the same work progress each week on weekly department calls…ummm, I remember you said that last week…you are wasting my time.

  18. Everyone is very brave on the end of a telephone line. They will argue and protest every last detail of any reasonable proposal just because they feel empowered by the distance and no they don’t need to look anyone in the eye!

  19. Nothing I hate more when people aren’t paying attention, get asked a question, wake up when they hear their name, and then say “I’m sorry, I was “multi-tasking.” Can you repeat the question?”

  20. Cheap IP phones with a 1 sec lagging echo that makes your brain cramp.

    That one genius calling from car either with the door open and chiming, at a RR Xing, or at drive thru w/out muting line.
    – @gvharr00

  21. For me, the most annoying thing is the people who go on mute because they are not really paying attention, and then when you ask them a question you get the 10 sec of silence and then they LIE- they says “oh, sorry I have been talking on mute”. No, you haven’t been talking on mute- you weren’t paying attention and now you realize that someone just asked you a question, and you are trying to figure out what the heck they asked you because you weren’t paying attention! The big give-away here is when they say “I am not sure I understand your question”. No, you didn’t even hear their question!

  22. Getting started is my pet peeve. the first 10 minutes consists of “who just joined?” followed by repeating announcements you have now heard 20 times. followed by trying to solve the new person’s tech problems for the web component.

  23. I love these calls! Two hours each week that I (we) get to listen to the putz’s at the corporate office, who contribute zero to the bottom line I might add, struggle to get a grip on what we really do as a company. I usually put the call on the office intercom so all the employees can hear just how stupid our fearless leaders really are. Makes me look like a genius!! LMAO!! The powers that be at HQ are the laughing stock of the company. It’s also great when we have visitors from HQ. My employees get to see the face of the voice they heard on one or more of these ridiculous calls. We even have a “Putz Of The Month Club” where we put up a picture of the person who made the most ridiculous statement during one of these calls.

  24. We have the top guy in our company logging into the call, and every time he joins in or exits the call, its preceeded by a espionage kinda incessant music which refuses to stop for sum time….not very happening when you are trying hard to stay awake on a concall…The music just disturbs my sleep…Will ya get out of the way of power nap on the concall Mr CEO plzzzzzzzzzzzzz………….

  25. Pingback: Darth Vader Was Not Invited To The Conference Call | The Official Blog

  26. I’m going to go ahead and say that 100% of conference calls are useless. Little-known fact: did you know where the phrase “Conference Call” originated? It’s called that because the phrase “I’m too incompetent to do my job so I’m going to get everyone I know onto the phone together and hope it gets done by inertia” doesn’t fit on a telephone button.

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