Conference Call Etiquette & 5 Types of Offenders

Conference Call Etiquette & 5 Types of Offenders


When participating in conference calls, employees should be careful about being “text offenders,” and exhibiting other irritating habits–if they want to avoid annoying colleagues.

Findings from research* includes the following top two (2) annoyances:

  • More than one-third (37%) of workers surveyed said multiple people talking at the same time is the most distracting behavior on conference calls, followed by
  • excessive background noise (24%).

Workers were asked, “Which one of the following, if any, is the most distracting or annoying thing when it comes to conference calls?” Their responses:

Multiple people talking at the same time 37%
Excessive background noise 24%
Attendees not paying attention 9%
Attendees putting the call on hold (and prompting hold music) 7%
Attendees thinking they’re talking when they’re on mute 7%
Other 1%
None of these 2%
Don’t participate in conference calls 12%

*Responses do not total 100 percent due to rounding.

“It’s tempting to let your guard down on conference calls because participants can’t see you, but basic meeting rules still apply,” said Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam, the organization that commissioned the research. “To get the most out of these discussions, join on time, offer your undivided attention and be respectful of other attendees.”

Five types of conference call etiquette offenders were identified:

  1. The Late Arriver disrupts the flow when he or she joins after the call has already kicked off. Have the dial-in details ready a few minutes prior to the start time so you won’t be scrambling at the last moment. If you anticipate being tardy, let the host know.
  2. The Noisemaker causes a commotion with loud typing, a barking dog or other sounds that can be heard in the background. Find a quiet location for calls and mute the line when you’re not speaking. Just remember to unmute yourself when you have something to say.
  3. The Multitasker is too busy eating, checking email or reading a report to pay attention to the discussion at hand. Put your other work away and eliminate potential distractions so you can actively participate in the conversation.
  4. The Tech Transgressor is prone to technology faux pas, whether it’s misusing phone access codes or a headset, or accidentally prompting music by putting the line on hold. Familiarize yourself with conference call systems and equipment before dialing.
  5. The Scene-Stealer is known to interrupt or monopolize discussions. Contribute your thoughts, but don’t forget to share the floor. Since there may be audio delays on the phone, wait a beat before speaking to avoid talking over someone.

About the Research*

The survey of office workers was developed by *OfficeTeam and conducted by an independent research firm. It includes responses from more than 1,000 U.S. workers 18 years of age or older and employed in office environments.

View an infographic featuring the conference call etiquette research results, at:

SOURCE OfficeTeam,

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Cynthia Kong, (650) 234-6298,

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