Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Observations on conference calls these days

Now that I am spending an inordinate amount of time on conference calls these days, I figured I would share some observations:

  • Everyone can do conference calls now.  FreeConferenceCall.com makes it easy for anyone to provision a bridge, get and access code, and do conference calls ad-hoc.  Furthermore, it's really easy to provision a conference call line from FreeConferenceCall.com that has international access numbers.  There's no reason not to be using conference calls and everyone seems to be -- at least 80% of the conference calls that I'm on are powered by FreeConferenceCall.com.
  • The free version of FreeConferenceCall.com can suck sometimes -- you get what you pay for, so be prepared to have to dial back in if your connection goes haywire.
  • There seems to be a "fashionably late" protocol going on for most conference calls -- this is particularly annoying on bridges that require the host to be dialed in before they cut off the elevator music.  I was on one the other day where 15 of us were listening to crappy music until the host finally joined ... 20 minutes late.
  • No one elects to follow the "please announce yourself" prompt -- everyone just seems to push the # key, so people just join without being announced, which generally causes the host or someone to ask "Who just joined?" multiple times when the little tone goes off indicating that someone has joined.
  • Cell phones really don't like conference call bridges.  Either the call drops repeatedly or someone's cell phone is picking up and broadcasting so much background noise that the call is either killed or gaps in and out.  
  • People like to get on conference calls and talk to each other when they're not aware of who else might be listening.  If you want to have a conversation with your co-workers, I recommend not doing it on a bridge to which you have invited people that should not be party to such conversations.
  • Lots of people are having conference calls that cause people to dial-in and then conduct video and slideshow presentations that the people have called in can neither see nor hear very well.  I don't really understand this with the availability of either free or low cost online meeting products that include conference bridges, but the frequency with which I'm involved in these is astounding.