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May 09, 2011

The Mute Button: A Conference Call's Best Friend

By Tammy Wolf, TMCnet Web Editor

In a recent Whiskas advertisement, the love between a man and his cat is apparent. For the owner, however, the fact that he forgot to mute his line during a conference call, is not.

While the ad’s intent is to advertise meaty, vitamin- and protein-filled cat food, it sure sends a message to all of us who has or may one day take part in a conference call. As the cat’s owner sits in front of a widescreen computer full of Excel spreadsheets, he whispers sweet nothings to his cat in a voice only an animal lover could sympathize with: “Oh, what a welcome interruption,” he says, stroking the cat’s tabby fur. “No, you’re more handsome. It’s hard to get any work done around here when my boss is so snuggly? Who’s the big boss? Do you have a paycheck for me, sir? Oh, you do?”

To the distracted, oh-so-affectionate owner’s surprise, a voice on the other end of the phone line then pipes in to tell him he, as well as a room full of colleagues, is still on the line.

In another video, a rather disheveled employee loudly sips his coffee, makes distracting mouth noises and even gargles liquids while on a call, unaware that every sound he makes is coming through clearly on the other end of the line. He, too, is suddenly interrupted by his colleagues asking him to mute his line.

An unspoken rule, and possibly one of the most important, muting your line is imperative to setting the tone for and maintaining a cooperative conference call session. Distractions are always possible when it comes to involving a large number of people collectively on the call, so be sure to mute the line during these circumstances:

·         When you or your group has paused in the conversation on your end;

·         When you or your group wishes to have side conversations between participant to participant;

·         When there’s static from a bad landline, cell phone connection, laptop or sounds from a keypad;

·         During a question and answer session so those on the answering end aren’t interrupted by distracting noises.

So, if you ever find yourself on a conference call in which you would like to have a conversation with your cat, dog (or just yourself), be sure to press the mute button to avoid becoming like these guys. 

Tammy Wolf is a TMCnet web editor. She covers a wide range of topics, including IP communications and information technology. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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