11 Things to Hate About Conference Calls
Elegant, isn’t it? After all, there’s nothing I enjoy more than hitting the “mute” button so I can microwave a Hot Pocket® while doing a conference call from home.
There are a few old jokes at the intersection of math and telephony:
I’m sorry. The number you dialed is imaginary. Please rotate your phone 90°, and try again.
When I dial into conference calls, I hope beyond hope that the dial-in number is imaginary. But no such luck.
Got math problems? Call 1 – 800 – (7 × 5 + 36) – (212).
Both of those jokes are terrible, and I apologize. But you came here for math jokes, and since I’m about to rant about something that isn’t math-related, I figured I should lead with something that connects the rant below with the reason for your visit. And those are the only jokes I know that even tangentially relate math to conference calls.
So, there ya go.
Now, my rant. I hate conference calls. I mean, a lot. We’re talking full-on despision here, like the kind Tartaglia had for Cardano. Conference calls are occasionally useful and productive, but typically they involve too many people and waste too much time. If I’m never invited to another conference call, I promise I won’t complain about feeling lonely.
Dave Barry said:
If there’s one word that describes why the human race never has and never will reach its full potential, that one word would be: meetings.
Replace “meetings” with “conference calls,” and it’s equally true.
I have 11 reasons for despising these unproductive time-sucks, but feel free to add additional reasons in the Comments section.
- People who dial in late. For God’s sake, please don’t dial in 10 minutes late and then expect the rest of us to catch you up on what’s been discussed so far. Show up on time.
- People who dial in late and announce themselves. As if it isn’t bad enough that you’re late, now the conversation is interrupted while the rest of us hear your name. If your conference call provider says, “After the tone, please state your name and then press the pound key,” just press the pound key; and if your provider says, “Please announce yourself,” don’t.
- Someone bumping the redial button. Now we all have to hear ten (or more) melodic beeps. Oh, for Pete’s sake, please put your finger back in your nose so this doesn’t happen again.
- People who coordinate activities for those in the main office. For instance, someone interrupts the conference call to sing “Happy Birthday” and deliver cupcakes to the 8 people who are gathered in a conference room. Meanwhile, the 14 of us in other locations have to imagine how good those cupcakes must taste, based on what sounds like giraffes chewing bubble gum on the other end of the line.
- Trying to focus for an hour on voices from a far-away land. I know I can’t do it, and I’m not alone. Dr. Mike Hollier from Dolby Communications explains,
…if we visualize our entire cognitive capability as the size of a football field, then our conscious intelligence — the portion of our intelligence that’s available in the moment — would be the size of a tiny grain of sand. In face-to-face meetings, we don’t need to strain our conscious intelligence to figure out who’s speaking… But conference call audio is so hard to decipher that we need to devote our entire conscious intelligence to analyzing audio information. With our conscious intelligence so taxed, paying attention to the subject of the conference call is exhausting.
- Multi-tasking douchepickles who continually ask, “I’m sorry, could you repeat the question?” Sorry, Biff, I cannot repeat the question. But I would like you to repeat after me: I will not play Evil Genius during conference calls.
- Calls being continually rescheduled because one person can’t attend. Perhaps this is reasonable if the one person is the Queen Mum or the Dalai Lama. Otherwise, accept that it’s impossible to find a time that will work for 27 people, and proceed with those who are available. Be a good employee, take notes, and send a follow-up to everyone after the call — including those who couldn’t be there. That’s progress, and you won’t have to wait till June 2054 to find a mutually agreeable time.
- Making 15 people wait while the organizer uses his cell phone to call the one jerk-off who hasn’t dialed in yet. If he doesn’t deem the call important enough to remember it, why does the organizer think he’s important enough to warrant a reminder? Why is his time more important than yours? Send him an IM, maybe, but proceed without him.
- The long-distance yeller who shouts, “Okay!” from the far side of his office to the speakerphone. Are you afraid of catching a communicable disease through the phone? Or is it just that your Justin Bieber bobblehead is on the other side of the room? Please, get a little closer to the phone so we can hear you.
- Bad mobile connections. If you cause static for more than 5 seconds, mute yourself. If you cause static for more than 10 seconds, hang up. Nothing you have to say is so important that we should have to tolerate this. And if your input is that important, then call from a landline.
- Conference calls that take place when you should be driving home. No calls starting later than 4 p.m. Period. And for goodness sake, no calls after noon on Friday!
Greg at www.ihateconferencecalls.com says, “You hate conference calls? I hate them more.” Here’s a pearl of his wisdom.
I really am doing my best. I have to remember:
- They aren’t doing this call because they hate me specifically, but rather…
- They are doing this call because they hate humanity, and this small amount of suffering that we all share will bring us together as humans.
- By suffering through the call, I become more human.
What do you hate about conference calls?