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How to Master Working From Home: Conference Calls

Hi there,

If you are not a Millennial (or younger), you will have faint memories of using your phone to actually speak to someone.  You may even remember having  - gasp - a phone cord!!!!  Good times... No doubt our smart phones and text messages made everything more convenient, but I am not sure avoiding phone calls altogether is very healthy or productive.  I personally find it beyond annoying when I have 200 text exchanges with someone when that could have been resolved in a 2 minute phone call. But I won't call because God forbid! 🙄 Everyone has their own preferences, and to each its own, but if one day my kids chose texting over calling me on my birthday, I will disown them. That's where I draw the line.

OK. Now that I got that off my chest, let's talk about phone calls while WFH . Life is hard now, and sometimes we are not in the mood to talk, but I'm sorry to say that you won't be able to completely avoid it. So I hope I can help with a few things I learned from my phone calls (I am on the phone 3 to 5 times a day on a normal day):

Tip #1. Prepare, prepare and prepare. It does not matter if you are the boss or if you are an intern. You don't go into a work conference call and then make everyone wait 10 minutes until you download all the heavy files they sent you 3 days ago. Be considerate of their time - they could have used those 10 minutes to do something else (like scroll their Instagram feed or do a Tik Tok video). Conversely, if you are leading a call, you don't start without sending the agenda and the materials everyone will need for it. Unless you want to surprise them, it's not cool to ask people to join a meeting without telling them what they should expect, especially if the meeting will be extra boring - we all need time to mentally prepare for that...  😅 (PS: nobody likes work surprises. Exceptions include: when you are announcing a huge unexpected bonus, or when you just want people to hate you). 

Tip #2. Prepare, prepare and prepare 2. I know we are all at home now, and some of us have bigger spaces than others. Most of us don't have desks at home, but still - unless you are supremely confident that you will not need to take notes or look at documents or at your computer (which almost never happens unless you are slacking off or just don't care), make sure you have space to write things down and to properly sit and concentrate. If all you have to do is talk (or listen), refer to my Tip# 6 that I sent yesterday (it's HERE is you need to read it again). But for God's sake, keep whatever your choice of writing / taking notes (ipad, notebook, lose paper etc) nearby so you don't have to scramble and end up writing on your paper towels. Or worse, on your own hands (that happened to be before - and I didn't have a Sharpie. It did not go well). 

Tip #3. The mute button is your best friend. Unless you need to speak.  I am giving you the benefit of the doubt and casually leaving this as Tip 3 because you know this is a given, and it is should not even be called a tip anymore - right? In case your answer was no, this cannot be stressed enough: before the call, locate where your MUTE button is. Then, when you join the call, IMMEDIATELY proceed to press said button. Unless you have to speak, obviously. Nobody needs to hear our breathing, our chewing, our panting dogs, the city sirens, the garbage trucks and, now with our new reality, our screaming kids. BUT there is a caveat to this: you need to pay attention (I know, bummer). Because when you DO have to speak, what do you need to do? UNMUTE it. If you start talking and other people start talking over you, that may be a hint you have not unmuted your phone (well, OK, if you are a woman, that's a common occurrence, but you know what I mean). Another telltale sign is if the person on the other side keeps saying "Hello? Are you still there? Helloooo?".  🤓 Basic stuff, I know, but for some reason this happens on every call. Why do you think that is? Email me if you have thoughts.

Tip #4. Do you have a landline? I know, we are not cave-women, but still - do you? Because if you do, you may want to use that. Wifi and cell signals can fail, and that makes a conference call even more annoying than it has to be. Do you remember when Brenda went on and on, and had to start all over again when a good Samaritan told her that her call was breaking up? You don't want to be Brenda. Plus, if you use your landline, you still have your cell phone handy and you can text your co-workers to tell Branda she is breaking up.  Just don't get distracted with your social media though - remember that you have to pay attention for when it's time to umute your phone.

Good luck, Matriarks - I will be sending more dispatches from home in the next few days. If you want to look at some WFH items, click HERE. 😊 And if you missed my previous posts, you can read them in our new Matriark Memos HERE .

Be well and remember to turn that computer off  (and maybe visit us on Instagram after that). We will get trough this.


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