When you pick up the phone and dial into a conference call, chances are you take every precaution to ensure that things go as smoothly as possible (Five Tips for Better Conference Calls). You have your agenda in front of you; you have your notes by your side and you have quieted those around you. But how do you react when chaos erupts on the other end of the line?
We polled our fellow coworkers—and their friends—to come up with the strangest things that have happened while on a professional business call. And trust us… some were pretty strange (like bugs falling from the ceiling during the conference call). Below are some real-life scenarios of unexpected events that, if they have not already happened to you, are waiting just around an unexpected bend:
Companies based out of geographical locations that are, for the most part, free of natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes, should keep in mind that some of their clients are in trouble zones. On occasion, these disasters can interfere with your call so it’s best to be prepared and to be a sounding board (or helpline). Remember that one of the worst things that you can do in this situation is to hang up. Stay calm, and help them through the situation. You don’t want to appear more frazzled than your client is, especially if you are nowhere near the scene of the disaster.
Just like a natural disaster can interrupt a phone call outside of the building, sometimes internal issues can cause a lot of problems. Fire drills (or actual fires), collapsed ceilings and pipe bursts have all been reported to happen during important conference calls. If you are on the phone with a client and this happens, remember that it could just as easily happen to you. Once the dust settles, remember to ask if everyone is alright—and then politely inquire about a better time to resume the meeting.
One of the worst catastrophes surrounding a conference call can occur when those on the line falsely assume that they are on mute, or nobody else is in the room. From poking fun of the callers who are about to join to making lewd jokes, a variety of sentiments can accidentally be expressed on a conference call when the line really isn’t muted. It’s best to assume that as soon as you enter a conference room, everything that comes out of your mouth will be recorded.
Do you have any conference call horror stories? Make sure to tell us below. And stay tuned for part two of this series, where we uncover some more accounts of conference calls gone wrong.