I participate in a lot of conference calls every week.

I hate them.

I hate them for many reasons. But, mostly, I just hate them because of the immense waste of time they cause. Conference calls are supposed to be about efficiency. They are supposed to save money from traveling. And, in truth, traveling for meetings is a big waste of time too. But, the conference calls…

People are late joining them. They get the start time wrong. They use the wrong call-in number. They forget about the call. Or, they are just plain rude. Lateness means the conversation has to be restarted. Lateness means the call ends up being longer than necessary.

People don't pay attention. They miss the topic or the questions. They play on the internet. They have sidebar conversations. They haven't pre-read the materials.
A person was heard making a lunch order on a call the other day. "Let me have the chicken on rye, please. Mustard and ketchup, please."

Are you kidding me?

People forget to use mute. The background noise coming through is ridiculous. They don't realize that a speaker fone picks up that noise. If they move the fone, it makes noise. If they shuffle papers, it makes noise. If they sneeze or cough or clear their throat, it makes noise. If they talk, it makes noise.

And, people calling in from cell phones cause massive interference and static too. During a recent call someone was calling from what sounded like a wind tunnel. No one could hear anything. People had to YELL for the person on the cell phone to hang up.

Invariably, someone will take over the call asking lots of pointless questions. What about this? What about that? What's the price of tea in china? Can we go back five pages and correct a typo on an unreadable chart (that no one has reviewed or cares about)? And, because no one else is paying attention, the person with the questions persists.

So, I doodle. I make lists of all the stupid questions and the repeated words. I roll my eyes and gaze out the window. I look at my watch and try to calculate the minutes until I die. I doodle. My brain is mush.

Conference calls are killing modern business.

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