Sunday, May 20, 2007

Repost Sunday: Who You Gonna Conference Call? Don’t Conference Call Us, We’ll Call You…

I rerun some of my older posts on Sundays as a way to highlight stories that you may have missed. Just think of it as 'thought recycling' and a day off, or that I am incredibly, incredibly lazy.

After posting helpful suggestions for surviving the dreaded staff meeting, I figured I’d follow up on my ‘how not to succeed in business’ seminars with the obvious companion piece: how to make the teleconference more fun. It was inspired by me getting a last minute email today about a department wide conference call tomorrow. Oh great, a conference call with the department big wigs on a Friday. At least that’s what I was thinking until I recalled a few ways to make that boring old conference call a lot more fun.

Any conference call I have ever attended begins with several minutes of beeps, tones and ‘ahems’ or people clearing their throats and announcing they have joined the call. That is followed by acknowledgement of whoever has just introduced themselves and sometimes even little mini conversations between attendees that no one else wants to hear. This is usually a good time to speak up and let a little fake gossip slip from your lips. After that, what more fun could you have than saying you are someone you are obviously not? As many upper managers barely know who works under them, your voice will not be recognized. This is the perfect cover for you. Introduce yourself with a name you made up, a colleague who may be out sick or on vacation, or better yet, your sworn office enemy. I’m sure no one will notice that the same name was called twice. For a really fun reaction (and a test to see if anyone is paying attention), say you are a recently retired employee or an employee who has left the company for another job.

My most fun thing to do at the beginning of a conference call is to get on the line with a made up name and announce that I think I’ve joined the wrong call. This will surely get noticed, especially when you ask if anyone knows the call-in number for the conference call about the downsizing of the department you and all your fellow departmental colleagues work in. As you disconnect, make sure to press every button imaginable to make your exit as raucous and clumsy as possible and then mumble something about how you never understood management budgeting for that department to begin with.

Once the call is in progress, there are still a lot of great ways to keep entertained. For all of these, I strongly suggest being able to make eye contact with the employees in your office. It turns the game into a competition and you might be surprised what your friend in the cubicle across from you will try to do when egged on. A good thing to start with is taking your phone off mute and calmly asking if anyone else hears that high-pitched beep. Make sure your fellow office workers also say they hear it and then wait for all of the conference callers to chime in about whether they hear it or not. If you’re lucky, someone will say they do, providing you with a great workplace story to tell for many years to come. All of this is sure to eat up valuable conference call time.

Next, you can crumple up paper beside your phone’s earpiece and when management asks where the noise and static are coming from, you can tell them you are calling in from a cell phone while in the field. If you can make it obnoxious enough, you just might be excused from the rest of the call. You can get on the line, excuse yourself for interrupting and then identify yourself as your office mate and ask if you can go to the restroom. The downside of this is that you’re boss will probably reprimand you for such behavior. Perhaps the simplest way to entertain yourself during the conference call is to repeat in question form the same exact point that the conference call’s facilitator just made. This will of course make you look like a dolt, but if you cared in the first place you wouldn’t be trying any of these.

What’s the worst thing you can do during a conference call you ask? Well, fortunately for you I have done just that thing and can share it with you. First, ensure that your speakerphone’s mute button is off and that you can be heard and then say something to the effect of ‘can you believe this guy’ under your breath. Hopefully no one will recognize your voice and if you were paying attention to my second paragraph, you won’t have to worry because you identified yourself as someone else. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go find my whoopee cushion and duck call before I leave for work tomorrow.

Of course, if this post is read by anyone I work for, I’ll then have to go looking for another job…Perhaps I should sign it as being written by someone else? After all, my annual employee review is coming up in a few weeks. Maybe I’ll be voted most like to succeed…

12 comments:

Odat said...

I love it....All we do is sit around and make faces and stick our tongues out when we have these.
Peace

Patti said...

Handy tips for those who must do this. I'm so glad I'm not one of them.
;-)

Pawlie Kokonuts said...

Yes. I can identify. The mute button paralyzes me with fright. On a conference call my lack of impulse control allowed me to say something terribly flip and it really wasn't meant to be offensive. To this day it haunts me and I can't bring it up, so to speak. Awesome phone image.

Alison said...

In all my years (not that I'm old), I have never participated in a conference call.

Seems you can get away with a lot of fun crap! Teachers aren't so lucky. ;-)

Michael C said...

Odat: I guess it's just human nature because we all do it too.

Patti: You are one of the lucky ones.

Pawlie: Hmmm, now I'm interested in what you said. Don't you wish we could all have a bat-phone?

Alison: You're right, teachers can't do too much like that. It's the reason I didn't go into teaching ;-)

Jay said...

Why bother joining the call at all?
I mean, if you haven't identified yourself, then you aren't getting credit, so why not just bring a picnic lunch and skip out?

Michael C said...

Jay: Unfortunately that is the type of logic I was not born with. I'll have to try sneaking out for lunch though. It would be much more enjoyable.

ShadowFalcon said...

The Batphone it so cool. I hate conference calls, when I was getting married my father-in-law was organisting his own reception (its long and complicated) and my husband and I had to sit through endless conference calls with him and his 'team' to help get this thing sorted out...it was painful to say the least and we didn't particularly care what colour the flowers were...hours of my life wasted

CS said...

We used to have video conference calls where I worked, which rules out a lot of those games. But it does open up possibilities for passing notes among the people at your site about the behavior and appearance of people at the other site. That's good for a laugh or two.

mist1 said...

I don't have face-to-face meetings with people. My mute button is my best friend.

Michael C said...

Shadow: Wow, a conference call for a wedding. Sounds like it must've been one heck of a party!

CS: That sounds like it would be equally fun and I will file that away should I ever have a video call.

Mist: I wish my mouth had a mute button. That would be my best friend.

Maurey Pierce said...

This is a riot. I love the Office Space flava.